Are you about to start a small business? As you journey into the world of entrepreneurship, you might subscribe to the notion, “if you build it, they will come.” But that usually is a misstep for a small business owner. You might end up failing before reaching your first anniversary. You must have a plan to entice customers to visit, purchase, or want your service/product.
#1 GET YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA IN ORDER
The first thing is to have a website, but you knew that right? Make sure that your new business name isn’t already trademarked, you can use this site https://www.uspto.gov/trademark. Once you have that up and running, your social media is next. Social media will serve as your public relations, customer service, and public bulletin board for anyone that may have a gripe about your business. But don’t shy away. You must address every single inquiry (good or bad) head on. This will help cement your presence as a business that actually cares about its customers. (Because you do, don’t you?) That type of credibility goes a long way in fostering customers that will keep coming back. It is all part of customer service. If your customer service is stellar, you’re on your way to becoming a very successful business. The business landscape is constantly changing and evolving. A strong social media presence, where you are actively thanking customers, addressing complaints, and creating content is essential to the success of your venture.
#2 HAVE A SOLID MARKETING PLAN
You must devise a plan that is going to help your new endeavor blossom. Word-of-mouth is very powerful, but how far will that take you? You must become a top-of-mind resource for any and all potential customers. Luckily, there is a formula that has been proven time and again to help your business thrive. You should allocate 8 to 10 percent of your gross profit (or gross projections) to any marketing efforts. This includes your web, social, digital, TV… everything. And as your profit increases, then so should your marketing budget.
“Budget, you say? But I sunk everything I had into starting this business, I have nothing left,” that’s a pretty common response when faced with allocating a budget for marketing. You must think in scale, meaning that if all you have is $200, then that’s where you start. It’s really that simple. You can have a marketing strategy. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars every month. Start at a level that you can afford. But DO NOT stop. That’s what separates the successful businesses from the failures.
Now, I’m sure you’re questioning what you can realistically do for $200 a month. Honestly, not a whole lot, but it’s a start. Begin with FaceBook ads, Google Ad words, social media blasts, blog posts, video tips, or free information offered up to your customers. Get involved in your community and then contact your local media (if relevant you can acquire some free press or “earned media”). The point is that the lack of budget or very little budget is no excuse for not having a marketing plan. If you have a little more money you can venture into television. If done smartly, TV can get you quick notoriety with maximum impact. I currently have clients utilizing broadcast TV advertising as their “bread and butter,” with everything else acting as support. The options are vast these days, with tons of digital options (FB, SnapChat geofilters, Pandora, video pre-rolls, Instagram, etc.) and not to mention all of the traditional methods. Your task is to pick a mix that will reach YOUR customers effectively and cost efficiently. This is achievable at any budget level with room for growth.
The key to a successful marketing plan is to get in front of as many eyeballs as possible for whatever amount of money you have available. You keep doing that consistently while incrementally adding money as you grow. Your marketing budget gets bigger in tandem with your business. The important thing here is maintaining consistency. If you do not or cannot do that, then the whole thing will fall apart. It is a finely tuned balance that must be maintained. Otherwise, you are just throwing your money away. So, big, small or even micro – at whatever levels your marketing/advertising efforts: you must be consistent. I have personally seen businesses succeed and fail based on how they chose to follow these principles.
As a business owner, you are the most important advocate for your business. Actively participating in getting the word out about your services is of upmost importance. As an owner, you will wear many hats, but don’t forget or neglect your marketing hat.
Promote. Promote. Promote.