1. Create quality marketing tools. This doesn’t mean you need to allot 75% of your budget to printing costs, presentation slides and a website. It means you need to put deep thought into the cohesive image you want to present. “Sit down and make a list of everything you’re going to need each time you make contact with a prospective customer or client, including a stationery package, brochures and presentation tools,” advises US marketing expert Kim T. Gordon. “Then, if you can’t afford to print it all at once, at least work with a designer and a copywriter to create the materials so you have them on disk.”
2. Greet clients with style. Voicemail may not seem like a component of your marketing plan, but if a potential client phones and your voice message is curt or the receptionist is not professional, that prospect or client will be gone before you can blink an eye. So get yourself a professional voicemail system (even the phone company offers options) with several boxes, advises Gordon, so callers can press “1” to hear more about your services, “2” for your web and email addresses, etc.
3. Focus as narrowly as possible. Instead of trying to reach all the people some of the time, narrow your target audience to highly qualified prospects. Instead of going to seven networking groups once every two months, go to the two groups with the best prospects every week. “Instead of marketing to 5 000 companies, find 100 highly qualified companies and make regular contact with them,” says Gordon. Phone them, mail your marketing materials and then ask to meet them. It will save you money and time.
4. Make the most of trade shows. Trade shows are ideal marketing platforms. Rick Crandall, a speaker, consultant and author of marketing books shares some of his secrets. “If you don’t get a booth beforehand, try to find someone who will share their space with you. You help them run the booth, and they get a local who can show them the town. If you decide not to get a booth, go anyway. You can always do business with the exhibitors; just be sure to respect their time with “real” customers before you approach them as a peer looking for some B2B action. After the seminar, be absolutely, positively sure that you follow up on your leads. What’s the point of attending if your leads end up in the trash? A study in 2000 found that 88% of exhibition attendees weren’t phoned by salespeople after the show.
5. Conduct competitive intelligence online. As one entrepreneur points out: “As a home-based business in 1978, how would you ever find out what your competition was doing, what they were charging or what kind of clients they had? Today, that information is completely at your fingertips. So find your competitors’ sites and get clicking”.
6. Offer your help. If you want to be known as a good business person, be helpful. The word of mouth value of someone you’ve assisted is worth its weight in marketing gold. Another way to help out your community and your business is to align yourself with a non-profit organisation. Patrick Bishop, author of Money-Tree Marketing, offers this idea: “Set up a fundraising programme that benefits a school, like a discount card. At the same time the children are selling the cards, they are promoting your business.”
7. Offer samples of work. For example, if you’re a Web designer, surf the Internet, find a potential client and send them a few tips they can use to improve their site. Or you can offer to do a small job for free just to show the potential client the quality of your work and to get them used to working with you.
8. Get out there and network. If this piece of marketing advice sounds like something you’ve heard before, there’s a good reason: it works. Join your local industry association or a networking club. When you go, ask the people you meet what leads they’re looking for and really listen to what they have to say. They’ll repay you in kind.
9. Cross-promote with other businesses.Who do you share customers with? Find them and figure out how you can promote one another. If you’re a PR person, hook up with a copywriter or graphic designer for client referrals. Or you could take note of collectives like a group of several wedding professionals (a caterer, DJ, dressmaker and photographer) for example, who work together through referrals. Another option is to add a brief note at the bottom of invoices referring your accounting clients to “an excellent computer consultant”, and have that consultant do the same for you.
10. Join a chat forum online. Find news groups that cater to your audience and join the fray. “I didn’t start participating in online discussion groups to generate business, but as a way to find information for myself on various subjects,” says Shel Horowitz, owner of the Massachusetts, US-based Accurate Writing & More and author of several marketing books, including Grassroots Marketing. “But it turned out to be the single best marketing tool I use. It costs only my time. One list alone has got me around 60 clients in the past five years.”
11. Offer an e-newsletter. Again, this establishes you as an expert, but it also provides another very important marketing tool: email addresses of potential clients. You’ve opened up the gates to creating a relationship with them by offering free information. Now they may approach you to do business, or you can use these “opt-in” addresses to offer your services.
12. Don’t wait for customers to find you. Rather than purchasing an email list for mass, impersonal advertising, spend some time surfing the Web for businesses that have some sort of connection to your own business. Then write them a personalised email telling them why you think they should build a business relationship with you. “Those letters have a high tendency to get answered because they are personal,” says Crandall. “And I’ve opened the door to business with people who were total strangers before I emailed them.”
13. Follow your best prospects. This is called play-space marketing. If you have a pet-sitting business, ask your local vet and groomer if you can display brochures. Are you a landscape artist? Offer to do a display for the local nursery. Do you throw children’s birthday parties? Buy a slide at the local movie theatre to be shown before family films. “Just be sure the environment is appropriate,” cautions Gordon. “If you’re a business consultant, you’re not going to run adverts on the movie screen. Advertise where people are likely to be thinking about what you’re selling.”
14. Become an expert. Develop business know-how into a marketing tool by writing online articles. “Write articles to show your talents and give them as fillers to any website owner who you feel is fitting. Not only does it bring you more traffic and potential customers, it also provides you with an international business portfolio to demonstrate your business sense and your product or service. Other ways to establish yourself as an expert: answer questions in online forums; send tip sheets to local media outlets; write a book or pamphlet; or do the next tip on our list.
15. Host a seminar. It’s cheap, it’s easy and it’s agood way to get over your public-speaking fear. Crandall offers the story of a business broker who conducts free weekly seminars. People selling businesses don’t want to attend as they aren’t new to the business brokering process, but they do notice his advert and call for his services. Business buyers attend, and the broker now has “pre-qualified” prospects. “You’re getting free publicity, you’re getting prospects to call you, and you’re building on your level of expertise,” says Crandall, who hosts his own seminars on marketing.
16. Get local news coverage. Play up your locale as much as possible with personalised news releases. Which sounds better to your local press: a successful home-based caterer with a national contract, or a caterer from the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, with a national contract? Crandall recently promoted his mother’s children’s book by sending letters to the newspapers both where she currently lives and where she previously lived, and both picked up the story
17. Get ready for your close-up. Does TV sound remote for a business owner on a budget? Not so. If you’re the type of person who adores an audience, get onto a business show or lined up for an interview. “You can’t blatantly advertise a product or service, but it’s a good way to become better known,” says Bishop. “For example, if you sell crafts, you might start an instructional craft show. You could give away something for free or have a contest. When people phone or write in, you can start a mailing list and then contact them about your business.” Another bonus is that it adds to your expertise and gives you a great hook for your publicity efforts.”
18. When in doubt, pick up the phone. Instead of lamenting a lack of business, drumming your fingers on your desk and forming new worry lines on your face, call a customer. Touch base, see how they’re doing, visit their office when you’re running an errand, see if there’s anything you can do for them, even if it’s not a paid piece of work. It will improve your relationship, and you may jog their memory. After all, you’ll never hear “I’ve been meaning to call you!” if you don’t pick up the phone.
19. Thank you, dankie, ndiyabonga. Shower the top 20% of your clients who yield you the most sales (either in volume or rands) with appreciation, whether it’s via gifts, personalised notes or lunch. “It doesn’t cost a lot of money,” says Gordon, “but it’s a great way to let your best customers know they’re special.”
20. Offer a guarantee. More people will be willing to try out your business and recommend it if you offer “satisfaction guaranteed”.
21. Get them talking about you. Word of mouth marketing is just about the cheapest thing you can do to boost your business. The main way to attract referrals is to do a great job: impress your clients, and they will tell everyone they know. But there are more aggressive tactics you can use too. Ask everyone you know to refer to your business. Hand out several businesscards to people rather than just one so they’re more likely to pass them on. Even go through your favourite client’s Rolodex (with his or her permission, of course) to find potential leads.
6 Things To Consider For Putting Together Your Best Holiday Marketing Plan Yet
When autumn starts, will you be ready for the holidays, having already created a gift guide, email and social media strategies and more?
‘Tis the season for online shopping. Well, not quite yet, but it’ll be here before you know it. In fact, according to CPC Strategy’s survey results, 35.5 percent of shoppers surveyed planned on starting their holiday gift shopping before Thanksgiving. That’s why you need to start putting together your holiday marketing plan now.
As soon as autumn hits, shoppers are bombarded with stunning holiday advertising and jaw-dropping deals from companies that will be fighting for their attention during that busy season.
But how will your company break through the noise and get consumers to make holiday memories with your business?
Let’s get festive, then, and think about seven things you might consider when putting together your holiday marketing plan.
Create an email marketing strategy
There’s no better way to boost your holiday sales than to send deals straight into shoppers’ inboxes. Email still converts the best for online holiday shopping. According to Shopify, a staggering 8.8 billion data points were collected on Black Friday in 2017, in the form of email sign-ups and other lead-generation tactics.
Since holiday shopping starts as early as November, you’ll want to craft your email marketing messages now and schedule them to be sent automatically.
Not all customers are created equal, either, so use your customer data to segment your email marketing. For example, if a large proportion of your customer base are busy moms, don’t send a broad, generic email; instead, send them one with products and tips to ease their stress during the holiday season. Personalised emails will make you stand out from the rest.
Have a countdown timer for sales
Ever heard of FOMO (a.k.a. “the fear of missing out”)? Creating a sense of urgency is one of the most effective strategies to make consumers feel that something valuable is being offered that they don’t want to miss out on. An eye-catching way to create urgency is to display countdown timers for sales.
For example, American Express displayed a countdown to the expiration of a special Amazon deal it offered its customers.
You can easily add a countdown timer to your website for free using the T(-) Countdown plug-in for WordPress. Seeing a visual symbol, like a countdown timer ticking down the minutes, pushes consumers into action by raising the urgency level to high.
Think about a “free” shipping strategy
Since consumers today are spoiled with Amazon Prime and same-day shipping, your business needs to offer awesome shipping deals this holiday season in order to compete. By reducing shipping costs for your customers, you’ll increase your chances of shoppers buying from you instead of from a big-box retailer.
Want to offer free shipping but afraid of losing money? Set a minimum order amount – for instance, customers must spend $50 to unlock free shipping – or offer free shipping on select items, like your lightest items only.
That way, you can offer customers free shipping without cutting into your profits.
And remember to account for realistic shipping times and cutoffs throughout the season to ensure your customers receive their orders in time for the holidays.
Craft holiday-themed content
Content marketing is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site, so add a little holiday cheer to your blog.
Crafting holiday-themed content will get your business in front of a ton of consumers searching Google for holiday-based and buyer keywords. Make sure your content is valuable to the reader; if it helps solve their holiday problems, they’ll be more likely to share it.
Lululemon does this well by creating holiday-themed lifestyle blog posts as well as posts about gift ideas for your loved ones.
Start thinking about content ideas now so you won’t have to scramble at the last minute. Brainstorm some fun holiday topics and plan out your content using a content calendar. CoSchedule offers free content calendar templates that will help keep you organised during this hectic season.
Devise a social media strategy
Getting festive on social media is a great way to capture the attention of shoppers on the lookout for deals, and to inspire a cheerful connection between consumers and your brand.
A great tip to avoid becoming overwhelmed come November is to create all your social media graphics ahead of time.
Don’t have a graphic designer? Don’t worry. Canva is a free tool where you can easily create all the stunning graphics you need to advertise your products with high gross margins and your free shipping holiday deal. You can also find fun images to use to wish your customers a happy holiday.
Schedule all your posts with a tool like Buffer, to make your life even easier. And consider enabling a Facebook retargeting pixel, too. It’s a highly effective strategy to recapture those shoppers who left your site without buying. When users abandon your site in search of other deals across the web, a retargeting ad will “follow” them and display specific ads to encourage them to return to you.
Create a holiday gift guide
Finding the perfect gift can be stressful, so make things easy for your customers by creating a holiday gift guide. With a gift guide, you’ll be able to showcase your best products and increase organic traffic by taking advantage of the shoppers searching “gift guides” on Google.
Etsy curates stunning products for a gift guide its shoppers can easily browse.
You don’t have to be a computer wiz to add a gift guide to your site, a clever hack to create your own is to use a free menu plugin for WordPress like Restaurant Menu by MotoPress. Instead of food photos, add photos of your products and product descriptions; your customers will now have a convenient way to see what items you recommend.
You can also reach out to other websites or publications that will feature your products in their gift guide so that even more people will discover you.
Don’t wait any longer: The holiday season is right around the corner. With these simple strategies, your holiday marketing will turn jaded shoppers into jolly customers, and the boost in your revenue will be the best gift you’ve ever received.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Ask These 3 Questions To Determine Where To Spend Your Marketing Budget
Stretching your marketing budget is imperative, especially when there aren’t that many marketing rands to stretch.
As you grow your business, it’s important to be creative and efficient with your money. When it comes to marketing, there are a number of cost-effective ways to spend and save your money. So, if you’re worried about marketing on a limited budget, here’s some helpful info to know.
First, great marketing is about highlighting wants and needs and attaching them to desired outcomes. It’s possible to do that regardless of budget — and every company’s strategy will be different.
For example, when my consultancy worked with Dollar Shave Club to grow its platform beyond viral videos, we focused on establishing a unique voice, which led to creating an editorial component. When we worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger on his fitness and nutrition products, we focused on creating a core mission and understanding why he was involved in the product. And when we worked with Four Sigmatic to market its coffees and teas, we focused on customer acquisition and retention.
3 Questions that Cut Through the Clutter
Those projects all started with the same three questions: What is the value and purpose of your product or service? Who is your target audience? And what is the best platform on which to reach them? That’s where you’ll want to invest most of your attention before you determine where to spend your money. (Notice my word choice: Your planning is an investment; where you spend is a cost.)
1. In general, we prefer to use digital campaigns
It’s easier to track what works and what doesn’t. Plus, digital creates multiple opportunities to engage. Think of it this way: 10% of your audience will buy, 10% won’t and 80% will be on the fence. Would you rather have one shot to convince that 80%, or multiple? By retargeting through something like Facebook ads or Google, or even creating a distribution channel like an email list, you can communicate repeatedly.
2. If you don’t have an audience, spend money fishing in small ponds where you know you can get a bite, and then set yourself up to communicate repeatedly
(This is where creating content as a form of acquisition or building an email list can be incredibly valuable.) Depending on your product or service, this could mean a very targeted ad to a small audience on Facebook — rather than attempting to reach millions — or setting up a pop-up shop, or getting a spot at a local farmers’ market.
3. If you already have an audience, turn them into super-fans who will bring their peers into your universe
Identify previous buyers and give them direct access to you through focus groups or calls. Reward them for their time with product or a gift certificate. When you show your consumer that you care about and appreciate them, it not only increases the likelihood of repurchase but also helps them personally invest in the soul of the business. Not to mention, their insights will help you understand why they bought and how to replicate that process.
Whatever you do — and no matter how big or small your budget — keep finding better answers to the core marketing questions and your success won’t hinge on any one platform.
Gen Z Is Coming! Are You Ready?
How do you market your company to this generation?
According to the CNBC, about 61 000 Gen Zers are on the verge of entering the workforce and consumer market in the US alone.
They are digital natives; they have grown up in a world of vines, txts (yes, we know) and internet. Their attention span is shorter than ever, they are more connected than any other generation, and they are brilliant multitaskers. Gen Z is a more tolerant generation but also more cautious; studies have found less risk-taking amongst this group and an increase in thoughtfulness and questioning authority.
So, on the one side of this coin, how do you market your company to this generation?
1. By being transparent
Be upfront about your business, what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. They have lost faith in corporations. Thus, you must stop relying on and hiding behind small print. Yes, you need terms and conditions to protect your company, but when it looks like a miracle weight-loss advert of the 80s (“Eat anything you want just take this pill. Ts&Cs apply.”), you’ll lose customers.
Related: Investing in Young Entrepreneurs
Gen Z consumers want to see you are real; they don’t want models or celebrities but regular people who can assist them in a manner that speaks to them. And they will hold your business is socially accountable. Instead of producing millions of T-shirts at the cheapest possible price, they want local, equality and free-trade, and they want to know what businesses are doing for the environment and society.
Gen Z won’t accept your claims at your word; they want to see evidence in your company culture.
2. By offering options
A jewellery purchasing study has found that most Gen Zers don’t have a preferred shopping platform. What this means is your messaging, availability and culture need to be spread evenly across all contact points – sales, call centres, website and digital advertising. In fact, many Gen Z consumers rely on mixing their contact points.
That being said, they want immediate action. If they see something they want online, they will go to the shop just to have the item right now. More than immediacy, they also want custom-made or made-to-order products and services. They shy away from traditional made-to-stock methods, which creates plenty of room in the production industry.
3. By being forward thinking
We have to always remember what was mind-blowing inventions to other generations are the norm for Gen Zers. They hold brands and businesses to high expectations, and instead of being loyal to brands, expect brands to be loyal to them. As Gen Z is more focused on individuality, they are also proving to be a generation with a high entrepreneurial output. All this shows that they don’t want the norm; they don’t crave what’s new today, they want tomorrow, sustainability and innovation, and they want it now.
On the other side of the coin, how do you attract this generation to work at your company? In much the same way.
1. By being transparent
As much as you are hiring them based on what they bring to the table, so too are they looking at what you can afford them. But, they don’t just want to hear you tell them about the benefits, they want to see it – and they are not after just money. Gen Zers want to be financially secure, but also one that is fulfilling; one where they find purpose in their jobs and company.
2. By offering options
Gen Z employees don’t want to work eight to five, they don’t want to be chained to a desk, and they don’t want to be micro-managed. Give them flexibility on how they want to conduct their work and how they can communicate with their colleagues. Create an understanding workspace for their needs and help them improve their skills – for instance, it’s been reported that a stumbling block for Gen Zers is communication. Growing up with emojis and text messages make face-to-face conversations, business calls and writing emails difficult for them.
Gen Z employees want to work hard and grow their skills. Even though they’re growing up in a super-paced society, they want to climb the corporate ranks at the given speed. What they crave, with urgency, is gaining value from their jobs.
Related: The Z Generation
3. By being forward thinking
They are lateral thinkers, and their creativity is not just outside the box but has broken the box completely. Gen Z is incredibly tech-savvy, and they will challenge the systems and procedures you have in place if these are not providing the needed speed and data required. Thus, they crave to work in an environment where they can push boundaries and ultimately help the company move forward. Hiring from the Gen Z pool can provide you with innovative insights into your business that can grow it towards tomorrow’s giants.
The only way to be sure you are future-proofing your business is by guaranteeing it caters for future customers and employees, by relying on forward-thinking enterprise resource planning software, for instance. Epicor ERP software ensures that their clients stay agile and innovative through trusting top minds to build and develop intelligent systems that open doors for Gen Zers. It’s Epicor’s innate tech-savviness that allows them to visualise the landscape of tomorrow and develop the software to support it today.
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