As an IT service provider, we’re all about helping other businesses to succeed through their use of technology. We also love sharing things what we know can help our fellow business owners overcome their own challenges and take their dream to a new level.
In this case, we wanted to talk about marketing and advertising, something that many small business owners take for granted.
A business must grow to survive, and growth is largely driven by your marketing efforts. Whether you’re running a small restaurant or a service in the finance industry with dozens of employees, it’s the influx of new customers that determine your future — for better or for worse!
We’ve seen a few members of the Sacramento business community struggle to gain traction, grow, or even stay above water. This is especially the case with businesses in their first year, a trying time for any entrepreneur.
So we asked our marketing team to share some of their knowledge about small business marketing and they came up with the following six tips:
1) Plan your marketing from the beginning.
Marketing should be at the top of your mind the instant you start planning a business. Who are you going to sell to? How are you going to reach them? What is demand like in your area, and how will you deal with competitors? Just having a good product or service isn’t enough in most cases.
A sufficient marketing budget should be part of your initial business plan. You should also know how you’re going to spend that budget over the course of months and years. It’s unwise to “try things and see what sticks” when it comes to growing a small business.
2) Don’t sacrifice advertising.
When a small business runs into financial trouble, the owner’s first response is usually to cut expenses. While this makes sense, far too many business owners cut their marketing budget first. This is a huge mistake…if you’re already having a hard time balancing the books, it can’t possibly help to cripple your business’ means of getting more revenue!
Cutting off your marketing is mistake, but making sure it’s worth your investment is not. You should always be evaluating which marketing efforts are actually producing results and budget accordingly.
3) Target niche audiences.
This is a fundamental rule of marketing. The narrower your audience, the more effectively you can reach them with your message. This doesn’t mean that you have to specialize your business, but you do want to make sure you’re telling specific groups of people how your service or product will benefit their unique needs.
4) Track your results.
Marketing should always be measured. If you’re not keeping track of what’s working and what’s not, it’s impossible to determine which marketing efforts should be getting a larger budget and which need to be cut.
One of the great advantages of digital marketing is how easily everything can be tracked. This is where marketing automation tools and reporting software is very handy. Many solutions, like MailChimp and Google Analytics, can be used for free. Use them!
5) Hire out the work when necessary.
Marketing is hard work. As a business owner, you’re probably not swimming in free time. Since a good marketing effort requires creative effort, tracking, research, and follow-up, it’s very hard for most business owners to do a thorough job while still managing everything else.
If you want to get the best results from your marketing, you’ll probably need to hire an agency, freelancers, or some other form of third-party help to take the reins. If you have the budget for it, you can also consider hiring an in-house marketing specialist (although outsourcing is usually the most logical option for small businesses).
6) Don’t be afraid to stand out.
In the small business world, there are a lot of people who take a timid approach to marketing. They’ll copy someone else’s advertising or make very conservative decisions about branding their company.
This isn’t always the best idea when you’re trying to make an impression and strike a chord with you prospects. Be creative and innovative! You don’t have to be completely over-the-top, but you also don’t want to blend in with your competitors.
We hope these quick marketing tips help you grow your business in 2019. And when it comes time to start leveraging technology in your business plan, we’d love to help you make it happen. Integral Networks can be your IT department, providing solutions and service for a fraction of the cost of staffing your own in-house team.