1. Who, What Why, How, Where And When

Rudyard Kipling’s six honest serving men are great guides through the marketing minefield. Who are you going to sell to? What is your ideal client like? What do they need? Why do they need it? When? How will you provide it and where?

Narrow each of these answers down and focus on where your ideal customers hang out. Now you have a clear idea where you should put your marketing messages and how to communicate it most effectively.

2. Good Is No Longer Good Enough

You going to need to be outstanding in some way to get noticed in today’s crowded marketplace. The Impact Equation by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith define this as ‘contrast’. One way of being outstanding is instead of thinking about marketing as a separate activity, provide the best customer service as a marketing strategy.

This means making yourself stand out by going the extra mile for your customers. This sounds daunting, but it can be done by breaking down your customer buying experience into stages, and working out the best way to communicate with the customer at each stage. Write down the process to ensure your approach stays consistent as your business grows.

3. The Question Is ‘How Much Do You Want To Grow?’

You need to be focused and you need a marketing plan. First list your existing customers and work out for each the amount of current sales for the coming year. A month by month approach works well. Now comes the fun part.

How much do you plan to earn from new customers? Your new customers should fit your ideal customer profile. How many of these new customers do you need each month to reach this goal? How much will they spend? You have already worked out where they hang out. Now you are focused on how you are going to achieve your marketing plan.

4. Leave Your Ego At The Door

Your best marketing strategy is to put your customers first. It’s all about them. Make sure that you focus on them in all your communications. What are your needs? How can I help you? They are really not interested in you, only what you can do for them. In his book ‘7 Secrets Of Highly Effective Marketing‘, Richard Lomax talks about ‘direct response marketing’, which means that before you invest any time or money in a specific activity, you must ask yourself.

“How are we going to accurately measure the response?” Simple measuring mechanisms include a unique phone number to ring, a promotional code or a web page for people to visit.

5. How To Get Your Prospects To Come To You

Part of your best marketing strategy involves branding yourself as an expert in your niche market. You are an expert, your customers need to believe that too. Then they will start coming to you.

In his book ‘Growing Your Service Firm’, Robert Craven writes that an expert has 7 characteristics and how to develop them. This involves focusing on your unique USP which will make you stand out and then writing, speaking, knowing the right people, possessing a good website and database, having an expertise or an ‘ology’ and making the best use of testimonials and endorsements.

Following this through to your online presence also requires effort. This is good news for small business as once you have established your website, many of the methods are free.

6. Being Simply Irresistible

You need to make it so absolutely irresistible for a targeted new customer or client to buy from you for their very first time, that they will find it impossible not to.

Does that sound expensive? Not when you consider the lifetime value of that loyal customer. How are you going to keep them?

7. ‘Best Friend Forever’ Policy

Just like a close personal friendship or partnership, you must respect and nurture your relationship with your customers if you hope to harvest the best results from it. Be their trusted adviser.

Communicate good news, and keep in touch just like you would with a best friend. This will make it impossible for your customers to want to look elsewhere for the services or products you offer.

8. Encourage Customers to Review Your Business

One of the most important things small businesses can do is make a concerted effort to increase positive customer reviews. A 2016 Bright Local study revealed that 84 percent of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations, and 74 percent of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a business more.

Conversely, negative reviews can severely damage a brand’s reputation. Unfortunately, consumers are more inclined to share bad experiences than good ones. That’s why it’s important for brands to be more proactive about getting positive reviews. Some businesses go out of their way to incentivize customers to get positive reviews, but in most cases, all you need to do is ask.

In fact, according to data from that same study, 7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review if asked to do so. In addition to improving your brand’s online reputation, businesses with a higher number of positive reviews may also rank higher in search results, so there’s an SEO benefit there as well.

9. Give Away Samples

Send samples instead of spending on ad dollars. I donate up to 75 sample sizes of our signature product to charity events and business conferences. I would rather have someone sampling our product than just reading about it.

We normally only sell 8 and 16 oz. jars of our signature ScrubzBody scrub. For donation purposes, we make 2 oz. jars as well. If there are 50 or fewer, I wrap them in a bag with a copy of our brochure. If there are more, we send the brochures in the box. By being included in a gift bag, we are hitting a specific audience and giving them a chance to actually try the product.

We have had new customers say they got it in a gift bag or raffle donation, so we know we are hitting the right people. Plus, if it is a charitable donation, we get to take a deduction for the cost of goods. It’s a win/win for us and for them.

What have worked out to be your best marketing ideas for small business? How would you rate yourself on marketing your small business? Do your find lack of time and lack of money get in the way? We would love to hear your views. Please get in touch or leave a comment.