Ask ten people how best to market your small business and you’ll probably get about 20 answers! Solving the small business marketing puzzle takes some initiative on your part because there isn’t one definitive method that will fulfill all your needs. Whatever strategy you devise, you’ll want to make sure that it is consistent with how you want current (and prospective) customers to perceive you and your business. In this article, I’m identifying what I consider to be the four essential pieces to this puzzle: web presence, local marketing, reputation, and community.
You need a web site that you can keep up to date without depending on someone else. No one knows your business better than you! Unless you’re flush with cash reserves, why pay someone to keep your web site current? At Veracity Technologies, we strongly push our clients into using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress. We will work closely with you to devise the appropriate theme and site layout to best showcase your business. All of our WordPress package solutions include one-on-one training so that you learn how to administer and manage your web site.
Whether your business model is virtual, physical or both; it’s important to pay close attention to local and regional marketing. Chances are that is where the majority of your prospective customers will reside. There are two things that we recommend to get your local marketing efforts started and they’re both free: Google Places and Manta.
Seek out independent television stations and newspapers. These community-driven media outlets often have much lower advertising rates that conglomerate-owned entities. Networking with small business development centers and local chambers of commerce will also assist you in marketing as well as building that sense of community.
The first impression people have of you and your company will literally last a lifetime. Online and offline reputation is vital to successfully marketing your business. Today’s consumers seek companies who offer competitive pricing, added value, convenience, and have a conscience. All of those factors combine into a trust level between the customer and the business.
Your online reputation begins with the content of your web site. Are you writing what your customers want to read? If you’re using a program like WordPress, how do you respond to comments? Search engines also pay attention to the content of your site and that’s a critical factor you can’t afford to ignore.
If you interact with others on social network sites, then your reputation extends to those environments as well. It’s always prudent to “listen” to the conversation before butting in! After all, listening is the equal partner to speaking!
The reputation of you and your business offline is based upon your interactions in the community. First impressions do matter and professionalism speaks loud and clear!
Building a trust bond between you, current, and prospective customers implies a sense of community. Broadly speaking, “community” is that interaction between people who reside in a common location. Communities can only exist where there is active communication. As a business owner, you participate in several communities whether you realize it or not.
You’re a member of an online community by virtue of your web presence. You can choose to extend that reach by actively participating in social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Taking ownership of your web presence is one essential aspect of your marketing plan. Local marketing efforts, building reputation and community participation are so intertwined and are required to complete the picture.
Sometimes all the pieces to the small business marketing puzzle don’t seem to fit. When that happens, it may be time to seek assistance. If you have questions or do need assistance with your small business marketing efforts – please, give us a call!