For the thousands of small businesses, marketing has often been regarded as an unaffordable luxury. Even before the current economic struggles, buying advertising space in the local paper or engaging in a direct mail campaign was beyond the financial means of many. So they remained mute and opportunities were left untapped.
Twitter – Unless your company is a household name, corporate Twitter accounts don’t always work. A more personal approach is sometimes a more effective means of marketing a business. Hence, rather than the company name of ‘Joe Bloggs Business’ as the Twitter handle, the user might be the owner, Joe Bloggs himself. As for content, establish an identity by linking to interesting business-related news stories, chat to fellow business professionals; chat to clients; give people an insight into your day job, tell them what you are up to and why. Twitter is not for hard sells.
Tweet regularly (at least four or five times a day); link to things that interest you; engage with other users in conversation; give an insight into your work; realise that your description on your profile is enough, you don’t need to keep reminding people.
Aggressively push your firm; be overly corporate; be rude/controversial (personality yes, but control it); fail to engage with others; have a long list of followers, but not follow anyone in return; tweet too often.
Facebook – Setting up a Facebook page for your firm is easy and here the promotion can be much more at the forefront than on Twitter. The aim is to create a community feel of exclusivity that users will share with each other. So offer Facebook-only deals and sneak previews to current work. Offer insights into the business other people would not get (for example, how did you create that mirror effect?). Users will ‘like’ your page if you offer them some value for doing so. The more you post and the more pictures you put up, the more people will engage.
Offer exclusive deals, post lots of pictures as these will be shared with other users; encourage comments on work and the page as these will show up in users’ newsfeeds and encourage more to like your page.
Contact users too frequently; abuse your power by sending group messages to all your fans; fail to update your page frequently – you have to keep things interesting or the page will go dormant.
Even the mention of the word will have business owners cringing. Yet successful networking can reap serious rewards.
If you see a sign for a school fair, art market or a summer fete, then why not head down for an hour and show your face. Talk to people and help out; explain to people what you do; be an active part of your community.
Engage with your local British Chambers of Commerce or get a number of local business owners together once a month for a chat and a drink in the local pub and suddenly you have a network of potential clients who, in turn, will recommend you to others.
Visit stands and get your face known; talk about what you do and how you do it. Emphasise what makes you special. These people will be talking to clients all over the country and they can be your messengers.
So that magazine you read is offering a webinar or a seminar – why not attend? There you will meet like-minded people and become familiar to others as someone who takes their business seriously.
Talk to as many people as possible; attend every event you can; when chatting, ask as many questions as you answer; engage in debate and discussion; emphasise why your business is special and what you can do.
Hide in a corner; mumble replies; bore people – ensure you know when attention is waning; get stuck talking to one person all night – it is okay to excuse yourself with a “It’s been nice chatting, let’s catch up again, I should just go and have a chat with…”
While you may not think that what you are doing is anything special, you might be surprised by what interests local newspapers. The local press is a great way of getting your business recognised by both business owners and local residents. Have you just celebrated a big business win? Or celebrated an anniversary? These are all things a local paper might run a story on and you can get your name into that story by sending the local paper a press release. Always ensure, though, that you secure the permission of the customer if the story contains information on them.
If you’d like to find out how to write a simple press release – stay tuned for an upcoming post on Writing a Press Release.