If you’re launching a startup or running a small family business, you need a strong online and offline presence to outperform competitors. There is always room for improvement—whether you have been in business for 2 months or 20 years. These actionable steps can give you a competitive edge.
Know your Audience
The first order of business— you must identify who is your target audience. Ask yourself:
- Who are they?
- What’s their job?
- What are their pain points?
- What are they like?
- What can I offer them?
In terms of interests, responsibilities, and demographics, buyer personas are an excellent way to define your target consumer. For that, you need to do a bit of research. Interview existing customers or clients. You can also create a survey. When putting the questions together, keep the following info in mind:
- Mailing preferences (email, direct mail, frequency, subjects, etc);
- Interests and challenges;
- Behaviours (how they use your services or products, skill level, etc.);
- Demographics (age, gender, etc.).
Once you have all the details, organise them into separate personas. In each category, group people with the same interests, goals, etc. That way, you can devise a separate approach for each group.
Develop Your Brand’s Identity
Facebook’s study found that 77% of people are loyal to brands. Having a consistent brand identity helps you attract new clients and promote your business.
What others say about your business when you’re not in the room—that’s your brand. It’s the emotions your company’s name evokes among people. It’s a combo of your values, looks, logo, design, customer service, and how you do business. What does your small business stand for?
Use Analytics Tools to Track Your Site
You probably know you must have a website. But, the question is—what are you doing with it? There are a variety of free services that can help you harness the power of your site and turn it into a proper marketing tool. For starters, make sure to use Google Analytics.
Email and Direct Mail Marketing
Don’t discard any email or mail you capture. Stay in touch with customers and leads by using email marketing campaigns. When it comes to mail, stick to these two principles:
- Always include something of value;
- Don’t spam.
Direct mail can complement your email marketing campaign and help you earn repeat business. Email can easily end up in the spam folder. But, direct mail can end up on your customer’s coffee table. Then, you can expect them to always have your brand in sight.
You can use direct mail to send birthday cards, surveys, promo offers, coupons, etc. Printing your client’s name in full-colour promotes a deeper bond with your brand. You can include personalised landing pages and other tools to measure the performance of your print campaigns as well as email.
Email allows you to automate campaigns. Welcome emails, order confirmations, triggered autoresponders, and follow-ups can practically send themselves. The perks of both email and direct mail allow you to reinforce your relationship with consumers.
Work With Other Businesses
Find non-competing businesses in your niche that can help you out. If you run a brick and mortar shop, you can partner up with an online business and vice versa. Or, you can partner up with other local businesses. Quid pro quo is the way to go.
For a flexible collaboration, it’s best to look for other small businesses. Together, you can:
- Offer package deals. For instance, a graphic designer and site developer may package a full site redesign;
- Go in on prizes. Both parties can contribute an equal share. That way, you’ll be able to offer more valuable prizes. Try to think up of a social media contest together;
- Set up a referral program. You could send each other customers. On the first project book, you can pay a 10% fee.
For this, you’ll need a huge stack of business cards and a couple of well-designed stands to carry around. Your network already knows you and trusts you. Leverage that. Recommendations from others can help you find the right audience.
Visit trade shows and business events—as an enterprise. Devise a pitch and learn it by heart. You must be able to sell well at any given moment. If you are an online business, it’s especially important to make yourself visible in person.
Always bring an employee with you to networking events. That way, you’ll show others the people behind the business and teach your employees to be great representatives of your organisation.
Blogging and SEO
The content on your site is just as important as the site itself. Through writing blog posts, you can provide your target audience with something of great value. And, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can ensure your targets find you. You can use a WordPress plugin like Yoast to take care of that.
If you can write well, content marketing is mostly free. Write blog posts with a goal in mind. Such a goal could be to get visitors to ask about a service or product or to subscribe to your email. You can write guides on how to use your products, or you can write about anything else that visitors may find helpful.
For your business to survive, you need to market well. But, it doesn’t mean you have to invest a lot of money. With a bit of effort and creativity, you can achieve maximum impact with minimum resources.