Guest post from Susan Payton
So you’ve started a business. Congratulations! Now comes the hard part: marketing it and attracting new clients.
A lot of newbie business owners get overwhelmed with the idea of marketing. They don’t know where to begin, or it just seems too technical to them. Not to worry. I’ve been helping small business owners learn how to do their own marketing for nearly 10 years. Here’s a few low-stress ideas for you.
1. Limit Your Scope
This applies for everything, but here we’ll talk about social media. There are tons of social sites out there, and you might feel like you need a presence on all of them. Not so. Instead, focus on one or two: the ones where your audience hangs out. It’s better to put more effort into a couple of social sites than to spread yourself too thin across all of them.
You know what they say about putting all your eggs in one basket? Well that applies doubly to marketing. If you only use blogging or Google AdWords to generate new sales, you’ll be disappointed. Instead, create a marketing mix and drive traffic to your site from multiple places for better results.
3. Try New Things
Marketing has some really fun tools available to small business owners, for little to no cost. Have fun with it! Try out Hootsuite to manage and schedule updates for your social media accounts. Give blogging a try. You never know what will work, so play until you find what works best.
4. Don’t Be Scared of Analytics
It’s a frightening word, isn’t it? Analytics. But this word is actually your friend. It tells you which of your marketing efforts are driving traffic and sales so that you can tweak your strategy and zero in on the best techniques. Google Analytics is free and easy to use (at least at the basic level; don’t sweat the more complex tools).
5. Take Blogging One Day at a Time
Tell a business owner who doesn’t consider herself a writer that she needs to publish blog posts five days a week in perpetuity and she’ll keel over out of fear. You don’t have to be so prolific, at least not at first. Start blogging one day a week, then move up to two or three days. If you detest writing, hire a freelance writer or marketing firm to handle it for you.
6. Try Out Press Releases
Press releases are great additions to your marketing strategy. They sound complicated, but they’re actually pretty easy to write. Once you master the format, you can churn them out easily. The benefit of press releases is that they generate SEO, helping you move up the search results for specific keywords you use, and they create lots of links back to your website.
7. Take Courses, Webinars, and Training
These days, there are ample resources to teach you to do just about anything, including market your business. Look at your local community college for continuing education courses, or simply search on Google for marketing webinars.
8. See What Your Competitors Are Doing
Looking at your competitors’ websites and social media platforms can give you ideas for your own campaigns. Just don’t copy anything verbatim. Piece together the best of several different companies’ strategies, and throw in your own style as well.
9. Don’t Overlook Local Marketing
If you’re a local business, such as a retail store or restaurant, you can market heavily online, but don’t underestimate the power of getting to know people in your community. This goes a long way toward getting repeat customers. And always ask for customer reviews on sites like Yelp to drive new customers in your door.
10. Change as Needed
Marketing isn’t meant to be stagnant. You can change any of your strategies if they’re not working after several months, and add in new tools at any time. You control your marketing, so make it work for your needs.