It can be a tough world out there for the small business owner. You might feel overwhelmed by the myriad of activities you have to perform every day, from helping customers to keeping the books straight. Somehow you manage to keep all those balls in the air, when a new wrinkle suddenly comes your way. Perhaps a major client/customer leaves, or another competitor opens up in town. Then you really have to scramble to keep your business afloat.
The sad fact is that all of this stress can be avoided with a few strategic marketing moves. In sports they say that the best offense is a good defense, but that is true in marketing as well. It can take time to cultivate a prospect to the customer stage, so it is crucial that you have a lead generation pipeline that provides a constant flow of contacts so you won’t be behind the eight ball if the worst should happen. Set aside some time every day or every week to implement these strategic marketing steps that can keep your small business competitive:
- Firm up your web presence: The vast majority of consumers now look online for information before making any purchase decision, so pay attention to your web presence. Have a mentor look at your website to give you honest input, and make sure it is mobile-friendly to quickly respond to consumers on the go. Know what you have to do to generate search engine results and get your business recognized. Get your business listed on all the local review sites and make sure your contact information is correct!
- Consider Facebook advertising: You might think Facebook is outside your marketing capabilities, but two million other small businesses would beg to disagree. Facebook is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to reach out to a targeted audience and grab their attention at the exact moment they are searching for information. A great graphic and some catchy content could easily do the trick of generating new leads for you.
- Get on Google My Business: This is one of the most overlooked marketing tools available today, and the shocking thing is that it is free! Use Google My Business to post updates, respond to reviews, build loyalty, and highlight photos that show off your business in the best light.
- Use social media: You might not think much of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, but your customers certainly do. Most of your prospects are already on Facebook, so you are missing out on some pretty big opportunities if you are not there. Simple notes or updates, product photos, quick videos, or informative answers to frequently asked questions can go a long way towards building an audience and engaging prospects.
- Stay in touch: Have a reliable method of keeping in touch with current customers as well as prospects on a regular basis. The best way to accomplish this is by building a solid email database and then sending out regular emails that contain useful information. With all the advertising information that is available today, your business can very easily become “out of sight, out of mind” if you don’t take the initiative to let them know you’re still around.
- Generate word of mouth: Another form of free advertising is the referral, but very few businesses take advantage of this opportunity. If your customers like what you are doing, then ask them to tell others. They can post on their social media, put a review on Yelp, or even provide a testimonial that you can add to your website.
- Get Linked: This is meant in two senses. One is that you should link up with other non-competing businesses and promote each other on your websites and social media. This will build credibility and expose your business to a whole new audience. The other sense is that you should have a LinkedIn page for communication purposes.
Even if the worst never happens, strategic marketing that fills your sales funnel with new leads on a regular basis will then simply serve as a method of helping your business grow and thrive.