The Internet is a great marketing equalizer for small businesses. Never has it been easier for a small business to compete against giant corporations for market-share. As a business owner, be sure to plan your marketing strategy with thorough forethought. Small businesses with no strategy are more likely to plow through marketing budgets, with nothing to show for the effort. Don’t do this with your company.
Below are a few points we ask our small business clients to reflect upon when considering an Internet Strategy.
Real Efforts Cost Money
Internet marketing can reach a large number of customers at a fraction of the cost when compared to traditional marketing techniques; however, it’s not free. Your marketing strategy should be focused so messaging is highly concentrated in a select number of high-value online venues. Many small businesses rollout a much larger Internet marketing strategy than they can handle, producing a wasted budget with little-to-no results.
Even before the Internet, musicians became popular by building a core group of fans. These fans were, for the most part, the musicians’ loyal customer base. With the fans happy, they in turn, acted as a ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing arm. The price of attracting new customers through word-of-mouth is, bar none, the most inexpensive way to market. Do what it takes to keep your core client base, your fans, happy. Create a loyalty plan for this group. This could be as simple as offering great customer service, a product awareness program or a customer incentive campaign. Formulating a plan will take some thought. Start by asking yourself, “Why am I loyal to my favorite businesses?”
Plan Your Marketing with Business Goals in Mind
Too many companies initiate marketing programs without understanding how they’ll satisfy business goals and improve the bottom-line. More times than not we hear business owners say,
“Our Facebook page has over 1,000 Likes!”
That’s great; but, do “Likes” really pay your rent or the utility bill? Most likely, they don’t. As someone who’s in charge of marketing, try not to let ‘Vanity Statistics’ cloud your marketing judgment. As you think through your strategy be sure your chosen efforts have a measureable association between individual marketing tactics and revenue.
Create a Website with Your Customers in Mind
Websites can have a multitude of purposes. They’re used to introduce customers to a company and its product lines. They can be developed to be a resource for researchers. And, they can be a place for clients to redeem discount cards or purchase items. Whatever the purpose is for your website, it needs to be visitor-friendly.
Customers will come to your site with different mind-sets. Some visitors will be looking for customer support while others will want to purchase products. So, be sure the website is designed in such a way that information can be found quickly with as few clicks as possible. The longer it takes a visitor to find what they’re looking for, the more likely they’ll abandon your website for your competitors’.
Tie Off-line and On-line Marketing Together
On-line marketing campaigns should be a component of a larger strategy that includes offline campaigns. Too often, small-business owners see digital marketing as a panacea for overnight revenue. It’s not. Even Kodak, one of the first companies to embrace the digital revolution, ended up filing for bankruptcy. Small businesses need to have an adaptable strategy where the strengths of both online and offline marketing are leveraged.
- Offline Strength: There’s nothing more powerful than the trust built with a handshake.
- Online Strength: No other pre-sales statistics are as accurate as those measured online.
Remember, the Internet is merely a tool for marketing and sales. Your customers are still human; and the fundamentals of marketing psychology continue to apply when employing Internet marketing. Also, as your strategy unfolds over time, hone in on the things that work for your business and build upon that success. Strategies that look great on paper don’t necessary produce the expected results. Be flexible; don’t be afraid to try new ideas or axe efforts that aren’t working out.