By: Peter Walters
Promoting your small business is important...no, actually it’s essential to your success.
But where should you start? Do you need a marketing director with 20 years of experience, or could a college intern do the trick? How much money is needed? Do you need a full time designer on staff?
These are all questions that should be swirling around your head as you begin to think about promoting, marketing and otherwise advertising your business.
Here are three simple areas to focus on as you get started.
While it seems obvious, many companies neglect to give their website the attention - both through design and user interface - that they should.
This is your first avenue for self-promotion, and can either be a driver of sales, or something pithy and throw together, as if an afterthought. If you’re in the second camp, it’s time to make some changes. Where do your eyes go first when you get to your home page? Is there an immediate call to action-- and if there is, does it reflect your top priorities (i.e. sign-up, purchase, etc.)? Your website should be bright, compelling and draw customers deeper in to learn more. Tease them with surface level information about what you do. The longer a potential customer spends on your website, the greater the likelihood that they will convert and make a purchase or sign up.
Your website also should link to your blog. Be sure to include relevant and highly searched SEO keywords so you’ll rank higher on Google’s search!
2) Email Blasts
While some strategists argue that email is going away, the numbers seem to say otherwise.
Just check in your inbox to see. Bet there’s a lot of companies trying to sell you things, right? It’s telling that presidential campaigns rely heavily on email blasts to get both money and votes. Sending marketing emails effectively is another matter altogether, however.
The more personal, relevant and “human” looking and sounding, you craft your message, the better. While only an estimated 10% of marketing emails are even opened, that’s better than none at all. Email blasts are inexpensive, immediate, measurable and direct.
3) Social Media
If you’re not using social media...wake up!
Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are the top tools you should be using. Each has their own purpose, but each is important. With these tools you can target, and speak directly to your customers, and acquire new ones through very targeted ads. How many Likes does your brand’s Facebook page have? Twitter followers? Play with the Facebook Ads Manager to run short trials of various types of ads. Segment your target audience with different copy and images to see what sticks most. Engage customers and share interesting pictures or articles on Twitter. Take beautiful pictures of relevant things and post them to Instagram.
Social media offers a fantastic, largely free opportunity to get your business name and values in front of a huge number of people. This could be someone’s full time job, so it would be wise to take it seriously.
At the end of the day, are you doing all you can to promote your small business?
About the Author: Peter Walters is a freelance blogger for various sites, including the Huffington Post and ripoffreportadvice. He is also the Director of Business Development at Two Degrees Food and lives in San Francisco.