Marketing is More Than Advertising
Marketing and advertising are not synonymous, and ‘placing a few ads’ is never going to draw the kind of business a small business needs to be successful. Marketing is a process, not an event. It involves planning marketing goals and implementing (often a series of) marketing strategies to achieve them.
Now that doesn’t mean marketing has to be a complicated process. But it does mean you have to know what you want to achieve and get out there and work at it. Here are five basic marketing strategies you can use to increase your customers and sales.
1) Offer some free classes/workshops related to your products and/or services — in your home, in a rented venue or virtually. Target specific audiences or events, if appropriate. For instance, someone with a beading business might offer special workshops on Beaded Christmas Projects. A yoga instructor might offer classes such as Yoga for Kids or Yoga for Seniors.
2) Join local business organizations + networking groups. Once they get to know you and what you do, the other business people in your group will mention your business to others and may even give you referrals. Local business organizations are also great opportunities to create + participate in cooperative marketing strategies, like special Market Days or other events.
3) Create or become front and center in a charitable event. You can get huge amounts of press for events like this – which can translate into new customers. You don’t even have to go to the trouble of creating your own event; many charities have established events that you can become a very visible part of by becoming a sponsor.
4) Write a blog — and use it to build an audience of people who would be interested in your products and/or services. Creating a blog is easier than creating a website if you don’t already have one. Then write regularly about topics related to your business and what your business is doing. You’ll start connecting with other bloggers, business people, and potential customers.
5) Ask for referrals. Asking for referrals is the easiest and least time-consuming of all marketing strategies. It’s surprising how often businesses fail to use it as one of their marketing strategies. If you’re offering a good product or service + making happy customers, they should be eager to point their friends your way. You can even offer a discount or other incentive to your customers for every referral that turns into a sale!
A Mix of Marketing Strategies is Best
In most cases, advertising won’t be effective unless it’s part of a coordinated marketing plan. Think of marketing as a rope and advertising as one strand in that rope. How strong is one strand of rope going to be?
A mix of basic marketing strategies, such as advertising in conjunction with the strategies above, will get you the marketing results you want. None of these marketing strategies is going to draw hordes of customers overnight, but assuming you have a good product or service and you work at them consistently, ideally, you will gradually see an increase in customers and sales.
Nothing is instant, and it takes time. Be patient. Be consistent. Stay positive. Make adjustments. Keep your eye on the prize!
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