Want to make a commitment to market your business better? Here Daneile Moore, Communications and Marketing Officer for Leeds City Region AD:VENTURE Programme, looks at what you might do differently in 2020.
The New Year has is now a fading memory and January been and gone (Was it just me or was that the longest month!) but, there is still plenty of time to make a firm resolution to grow your business through marketing.
This time of year is a perfect time to start something new or do things differently. So, how about taking a good look at how you market your business?
Did you draw up a marketing plan way back in the mists of time? Are you still doing what you have always done, wondering why your sales have stagnated? Are your competitors starting to creep ahead of you, even though you know your product or service is better than theirs?
Or maybe you have never actually planned how you market your business. Maybe it has been down to luck so far. Well done if so, but I guarantee with a few select tactics, you can increase your business visibility and growth.
So now is the time to draw up a plan. For the purposes of this blog I am going to assume that what you sell is good and there is a demand for it. If not, you’ll need to go back to the drawing board with that before you can even think about selling it (Fear not though, help is available if you think that’s where you are at, and I strongly advise you take it before going any further! I’ve included a few links at the end of the blog)
The plan does not need to be a huge strategy. Keep it simple and focus on some key basics initially. You can then build on the areas you see success in.
It needn’t cost money to market your business. Many early stage businesses take the boot strap approach, and if planned well, it can be hugely successful. I want to focus on the ways you can get your name out there without paying over the odds for advertising or loads of leaflets.
Start by working out who you want to sell to. That might be in terms of: business or consumer, geographical reach, age of customer and economic status.
Then work out where those people inhabit. Are they on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIN or Twitter? Are they reading the business press or hanging out at networking or trade events? Then target those areas. It might mean getting up to go to breakfast networking events or putting together a press release to send to business reporters.
The great thing about press releases is that they do still get used by reporters, even if this age of digital news and social media. Journalists like a story that they can just use rather than write, especially as they are usually spread quite thinly and it saves them time. When you write a press release, it needs to be a story. Basically, you are trying to get the reporter to run it like they would run a story they would write. Take a look at the style they write in and copy that.
New products, recruitment, charity work or new contracts are always good stories to share. Remember to always provide a high res image too. Pictures really do say a thousand words, and it’s more likely to get your story featured. Make sure it’s relevant and well shot. A smartphone camera will work just fine.
People work well, but make it interesting (Not just a person on a boring backdrop!) and try and include your products and branding. It can mean you getting a nice big spread in your local paper and getting featured on their website. That has a lot of kudos as it looks like someone else is saying you are good. Far more powerful than paying for an advert.
Lots of people will tell you you must use social media. But which do you use? There is a bit of a myth that you must be out there posting and tweeting on all platforms. So, again, stop and think; where is your audience? Are they on Facebook or are they the sort of people who get involved in debates on LinkedIn? Go where they are, rather than spreading yourself too thin. Following hashtags that are key to your industry are a great way to keep an eye on conversations and topics that you could comment on and add your expert input to.
Time is a huge challenge for a growing business, and it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to think about these things. Give yourself a set amount of time and dedicate that to posting, sharing or creating content. You don’t have to be on it all the time, but do keep an eye for notifications and respond if your customers engage on social. There is nothing worse than being out there and not interacting!
Try mixing selling messages with useful content. If you constantly sell, your users will disengage. Instead share industry relevant content, other user content and also keep an eye on special dates or weeks that you can integrate into your messaging. There is a “day” for everything now (mainly invented by marketing teams / social media!) so what’s the day your business should be shouting about?
There are also lots of useful free or low cost tools you can use to help reduce the time it takes to post messages, allowing you to schedule a number of messages in one go, across multiple platforms keeping your feed active over the upcoming weeks without requiring you being on it every day.
Buffer is great for straightforward social media scheduling. Hootsuite is my recommendation for starting out, is easy to use and has a decent free offer. It works well for all-in-one social media scheduling, monitoring, and analytics. Iconosquare is a favorite for managing Instagram business accounts and Sendible a great tool for lead generation. There are more, and many are free to a certain level of use.
Whichever method you use, just remember: I can’t buy your goods or services if I don’t know you exist. So, get out there and get selling!
If you want any more advice and support over how to market your business, if you are less than 3 years trading, and primarily supply B2B? Get in touch with AD:VENTURE today at www.ad-venture.org.uk If your business has been established longer, don’t worry, there is also a huge amount of support available from the LEP Growth Service, The Skills Service and Digital Enterprise to name a few!