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I have started a business but I have no experience in marketing. Can you offer some marketing advice and guidance?

The ultimate guide to marketing your small business.

Entrepreneur

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The Basics

What is Marketing?

Marketing grows your small business, enabling you to identify and communicate with potential customers. Learn how to determine market demand and satisfy consumers’ requirements profitably. Looking up the definition in a dictionary is rather easy but it is a lot more interesting to define what marketing is not.

It’s not a phone call to a customer or an email or a letter to a prospect. Those have all got to do with selling. Selling is often confused with marketing but, in reality, marketing and sales simply support one another. By marketing you create an environment for successful sales to take place.

How to market a business?

Follow the steps in these sections to develop and marketing strategy and kick your campaigns into action.

Entrepreneurs who launch their own business are quickly hit by the reality of just how much responsibility they must take on. Small business owners must master the skills required to market the business, locate prospects and sell to them, manage the financials and ensure fulfilment of products and services.

With this in mind we have organised our website around these various centres, creating sections and sub-sections to address the key focus areas and critical success factors.

Therefore you should find the Marketing section and its sub-sections to be of value here. View the following:

  •     Developing Your Marketing Plan
  •     Positioning
  •     Create a Professional Image
  •     Marketing Tools
  •     Effective Marketing Strategies

What are marketing channels?

A marketing channel is the method of getting your product into the customer’s hands. This can be through direct sales, through a reseller or both.

Ways to establish effective channels

The more effective marketing channels you can use, the greater the level of penetration into your customer’s world. It doesn’t matter what product you are selling the marketing techniques are the same.

  • Develop a strategic plan and spend time researching and planning.
  • Price your products and services competitively
  • Offer buying incentives
  • Position yourself as an expert in your field
  • Pitch sales and marketing efforts to the correct niche market to be more productive.
  • Contact 10 potential customers daily five days a week you will see your business grow at an exceptional rate

Build Networks

Networking can be a viable marketing channel. Face to face contact is always more effective in establishing trust and building relationships than phone contact. Click on this link to connect with other business owners and entrepreneurs that can be found in the following directory.

Use the Trade Show Circuit

In a world of websites, emails, and voice mails, trade shows offer one of the true opportunities to build relationships with face-to-face contact.

Promotional Material

Many entrepreneurs choose to design their own marketing materials when they launch their businesses as it a cost effective solution to hiring a marketing firm. When preparing a business plan, a strategy for promotional materials should be included in the marketing plan – whether you plan to design this material yourself or hire a professional to do it. Why? Because promotional material must be consistent with your target market.

Don’t ignore the importance of promotional material

An initial lack of customers and cash flow often causes new small business owners to put off designing promotional material until they have achieved good cash flow. However, this is short-sighted. If you don’t have promotional material, how will you go about applying your unique brand to your corporate identity, company values and promotional material in a distinctive and consistent manner?

Identify low-cost methods to get the most out of your promotional budget

Will you use methods other than paid advertising, such as trade shows, dealer incentives, word of mouth (how will you stimulate it?), and network of friends or professionals? Once again, how you approach this is based on your business plan, marketing plan and what you know of the industry you are operating within (based on your industry research while formulating your business plan) – how you promote your business must be in line with who you are promoting your business to.

Concentrate on the ‘who’

A marketing strategy can help you determine demographics of who you are targeting. Promotional materials depend on the profile of your targeted customers, their characteristics, and their geographic locations, otherwise known as their demographics:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Income level
  • Social class and occupation
  • Education

How do you want customers to see you?

In addition to advertising, what plans do you have for graphic image support? This includes things like logo design, cards and letterhead, brochures, signage, and interior design (if customers come to your place of business). This initial branding of your business will shape how customers recognise you. It is therefore very important to create consistency between any images associated with your company name.

The Budget

Promotional budget

How much will you spend on the items listed above? You need to divide these costs into before start-up (these numbers will go into your start-up budget) and operating costs (these numbers will go into your operating plan budget).

How to develop a marketing plan on a small budget?

So many people want to do things in the simplest way possible but simple is not always the best option.

All marketing plans need to be on paper. You need a plan in front of you in order to know where you are going and what the next steps are. A good starting point is your branding. What would you like your customers to see or think when they look at your brand?

Once you have a few detailed answers for this, you can determine your pricing and profit in your actual business plan. Performing an S.W.O.T (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis is also essential. Many businesses have made the mistake of not doing this assessment on a regular basis and watched their business fail.

Being unprepared is a bad move, especially since your marketing is such a vital part of a business. You will also need to have some figures in mind when creating a marketing plan as you will need to have something to work with.

Establishing your target market is another important step as selling a product or service to someone who doesn’t need it, won’t leave your company in a good position.

So, keep these main points in mind when creating a marketing plan:

  1. Know your branding
  2. Perform a S.W.O.T analysis
  3. Who are you selling to?
  4. What will it cost to get customer to buy from you?

Begin with these points and be sure to keep track of notes and decisions in writing in order to keep track of it so that you know what you will be spending and what you should be getting in return. Regardless of the type of marketing that you will be using, you should always have a marketing plan ready.

Creating a Profile

How to compile a professional business profile

A business profile is essentially a marketing tool. The purpose of a business proposal is to persuade investors, potential customers and even a government body to choose your goods or services. In a way, a profile is your company’s brag sheet, used to explain to investors and possible clients what your company can do for them.

Business Profile Objectives

You business profile needs to show prospective clients and partners that:

  • You are a trustworthy, professional organisation
  • You understand your client’s needs and requirements
  • Your products and/or services match their requirements
  • You have a proven track record with solid references

How much of my profit should I spend on marketing my new business?

There are ways to determine how much to spend on marketing.

First, a general rule of thumb is to plan on investing at least 10 percent of your gross annual income in marketing. So if you think you’ll make R500 000 in your first year, make up a strategic marketing action plan covering diverse online, print and networking initiatives running around R50 000.

That said, many businesses advance their objectives and sales sooner by allocating more time and money to marketing – sometimes as much as 20 to 30 percent of their anticipated annual gross revenues – especially if they are introducing a new company, product or service.

Thrifty marketers can take advantage of lots of viral, print and face-to-face networking options which should be launched only after you cover the cost of developing your professional image starter kit (a professional logo and brand, a business card, direct mail piece or sales sheet, at least one tile ad for web advertising and one web signature ad, a letterhead and a website).

Once you have a strong brand, a lean toolkit of promotional collateral and your main sales driver – a branded website (via the services of a graphic designer, webmaster and copywriter) – you should allocate funds that cover several other professional marketing services.

You’ll need several providers/advertising resources including an e-mail marketing firm and your local regional chamber of commerce – which hopefully offers opportunities to advertise online via a hyperlinked web ad on their site.

Depending on your geographic footprint, you should invest in attending and possibly joining various trade networking groups. You should look into online advertising opportunities with these trade groups, blog on your own blog, set up social networking accounts with at least one venue that you can commit to on a weekly basis (Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn) and send out regular information via follow-up emails to folks you have met in face-to-face networking gatherings.

All of these initiatives will help establish your company’s viability and trustworthiness in spaces (and in ways) where lots of your prospects expect you to be.

Of course these are just the basics, there’s lots more you can do to help position your firm with strength in the market and to land more sales. Take a look the sales and marketing articles on this website.

How to make a business stand out?

What really makes your service stand out from your competitors?

  • Is it your fee structure?
  • Your personal experience in the travel industry?
  • Your follow-ups and overall customer service?
  • Are you able to structure a guarantee on your service deliver that may entice companies to give your business a try?
  • Do you know what your competitors communicate to their prospects and clients in their marketing and sales activities?
  • Can you communicate these benefits in your marketing and sales messages in a compelling manner?

How to Write a Business Profile

Here are the important points to include in your business profile:

1. Company Particulars:

  • A brief company background: When, why and by who was the business established
  • Founders/Director’s credentials: A brief background on key players in the business – their qualifications and career experience
  • Company contact details: Telephone, email, website and physical/postal address details

2. About the Business:

  • The business footprint: regional, national, international?
  • What differentiates your business from competitors
  • The products and/or services your business offers
  • What are the benefits offered through your products or services
  • Your customers: Which target market do you appeal to and how do you reach them
  • BEE status
  • Other legal compliance
  • Industry body memberships and/or affiliations

3. Company Achievements:

  • Details and photos on successful completed projects, product launches and/or services delivered
  • Has your company won awards? Provide details and explain the significance.
  • Has the business been recognised in the media? Include press clippings.
  • Milestones in your company’s history. Provide a timeline detailing key moments and successes in the business.

4. Testimonials and Case Studies:

  • Do you have satisfied customers who are willing to recommend your company? Include their photos, brief testimonials and contact details.

 Business Profile Presentation Tips:

1. Keep it simple

  • Use precise and use simple language
  • Jargon and technical terms can be hindrance in the process of communicating important information aimed at attracting potential investors and/or clients

2. Keep It Short

  • Prospects and executives are busy; they don’t have time to wade through reams of information. Edit out all superfluous information

3. Ensure its Error Free

  • Spelling and grammatical errors spell doom for any business profile
  • Make sure page numbers, dates and other figures are correct
  • Check that your font sizes and other formatting is consistent throughout the document
  • Keep the profile up-to-date

4. Remember Your Audience

  • The information required by a potential investor will be different from that required by a potential customer. Tailor your proposal to suit needs of the reader

5. Use Company Branding

  • Include a high quality, colour logo
  • Use your corporate colours in the presentation

6. Limit the Frills & Fanfare

  • Go easy with fancy borders, busy fonts, bright colours and clipart
  • Only include elements that enhance your presentation, not detract from it
  • Remember, less is (often) more

7. Convey the Company’s Personality

  • A well-written company profile should contain not only descriptions of products or services, but also convey some sense of personality of the business and its key executives.

The Processes

 Is it advisable to hire a specialist marketing firm?

If you have the budget this is a good idea if you can find a firm that has established relationships with major retailers. Not only will they help you get your product into the stores but they can be great at providing you with guidance about everything from pricing to packaging your products correctly.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to pitch your product to several good potential representative firms and it may take some time to find one willing to provide you with the assistance that you require when it comes to your larger distribution companies.

How to evaluate the effectiveness of a marketing method?

The best way to measure advertising results is to track responses from a few different types of marketing methods and media.

You can specify a certain email address for customers to use when responding to print adverts or you can use different toll free numbers to track the response from media such as billboards or radio adverts. If you prefer to use one type of media then you can always use different numbers for each marketing campaign that you run.

Also, make it a standard practice to ask all prospective customers that call or email in, where they heard about you. Create a spreadsheet that lists all possible sources of leads and supply them to staff members. Make it a requirement that a lead sheet has to be filled in for each prospect.

If you run a business online, be sure to include a question about where they heard about you somewhere on the website. Running a survey on a regular basis is another way to find out which marketing methods are working and which not.

How to research and break into a niche

In order to identify a niche market, a number of steps have to be taken and you will have to ask a few key questions. Read Creating a Niche Market for these top tips. You can also use our Target Market Worksheet or our Industry Analysis Worksheet as additional research. Once you have identified this market you can read how to differentiate your Company and Create a Unique Selling Proposition.

Keeping in Touch

How do I keep in touch with my clients without irritating them?

This is a question that many business owners have pondered about. If you know that you made a great impression after your meeting with them then you should follow up with a thank you note of some sort. If there was a particular subject that you and the customer discussed then try and send them some information on it, even if it doesn’t relate to your business, to remind them about your discussion.

This also lets them know that you were paying attention. There is also the option of leaving behind some sort of accessory with your company logo and contact details. Make sure that it is something useful like a USB drive or notepad so that the customer uses it and is reminded about your business and keeps you in mind the next time they require your services.

Here are several ways to keep your name on the minds of clients without becoming annoying:

  • Sending out a newsletter on a monthly basis is one option

This is the ideal way to visually promote your brand on a regular basis. Keep it short, but make sure that the information that you are sharing is meaningful to both prospects and clients.  Including one or two pictures of your product or recent work is the perfect way to promote what your business is capable of. And don’t forget the professionally written copy, because for some clients words mean more than just a few pictures.

  • Along with your newsletter, send out a professionally designed and written direct mail about four times a year. If your client missed the email you will still be able to keep in touch without intruding. Try and work up a strategy around these letters like sending out seasonal mailers.

These newsletters are also the best way to get clients and prospects interested in discounts or special offers. Newsletters are also a way for you to announce any special achievements, awards or news that might intrigue clients or prospects.

As long as you are not bombarding them and you are keeping the information varied and interesting, you should be able to keep in touch with your clients in an intelligent and respectful way while feeding your sales department.

Specialist Marketing Tactics

Home based business

There a quite a few options for you to consider when it comes to marketing your home based business without breaking the bank.

  1. Networking. Pay a visit or join your local chamber of commerce or find out about networking meetings in your area. Before you attend one of the events however, make sure that you have a professionally designed brochure to hand out. Information should include your expertise, contact details and rates. You might also want to get a logo designed for your business as this brings about a more professional look and feel.
  2. Social Networking. Social networking can take some time to get used to but joining sites such as Twitter and Facebook can give you the additional exposure that you need.
  3. Send out direct mail. This could be the perfect way for you to bring in a few new clients every month. Again make sure that everything is well designed and written by a copywriter. Send this out to some of the leads that you collected at your networking events.  Follow up with each lead a few days after they receive the mail. This is a great way to shorten the sales cycle because you can set up meetings there and then without having to explain your home based business in too much detail.
  4. Send out a press release to your local newspapers. A great press release could lead to some editorial coverage.
  5. Start a blog. Blog about your experience and qualifications. Tell people about success stories and why they should use you.
  6. Create a website. Customers like to be able to take the time to learn more about you but in their own time, making a well designed website the perfect tool. This will also display your professionalism

Social networking is an excellent marketing tool

If you can harness the power of social media as a business tool, you can accomplish serious goals, such as increasing your visibility and raising brand awareness.

Different social networking sites

Free social sites

Some sites that fall under this category are Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Each of these sites primarily serve as a link to friends and associates who want to socialise.

Professional sites

Examples of these include LinkedIn and Zing. These professional sites can be utilised as an online contact database, but it’s also where people go to update employment information about themselves.

Industry-specific sites

These sites allow you to connect to people who are in your industry. Industry sites help you to narrow your search when looking for services, or people with skills in certain fields. Examples of these include DesignMind, which is especially for the building industry, or Scispace.net, a network for scientists, to ReverbNation.com, for independent musicians.

What is a user profile?

Social Media provides an outlet for displaying who you and your company are. All Social Media sites have one thing in common – the user profile. The user profile generally sets apart social networking sites from other social media platforms. It helps set the stage for building relationships with people who share the same interests, activities, or personal contacts, as opposed to simply providing information.

What do social networks do for business?

Social networks enable companies to invite audiences to get to know their brands in a way that traditional forms of marketing or advertising can’t.

Before you start

Before opening an account, it’s important to research what each site offers and how you can benefit from their resources.

How to set up a Profile

Your profile is the online representation of your brand and company. Do not put your company name on a social networking account just to send messages to friends and family. Adding multimedia to your page gives flair, and offers customers an exclusive look inside your company. LinkedIn even has an add-on that allows you to post presentations and slideshows.

How Social Media works in the business arena

A potential customer visits a company’s website and sees an active blog with insightful posts on how a company’s product helps customers. The visitor reads posts which describes the company and its products or services in detail. They will be able to order products arrange services or read case studies and other important information such as how other clients feel about the business offering.

Research tool

Not enough people think of Social Media as a research tool. However, it’s the perfect tool to find out more about customers and the competition. It informs as follows: It is a valuable tool to use to find out what your customers are saying

  • Social Media shows what your customers’ customers are saying
  • It’s the perfect tool to track industry trends

How to use Social Media

Seek out blogs and publications in your industry and subscribe via a RSS network with relevant experts, including those who may only be partially related follow the insights of business leaders on Twitter and Facebook .Connect with clients or customers on your own blog.

  • Decide what to use the site for?
  • Do you want to recruit staff?
  • Do you want to market products?
  • Do you want to connect to more people in your industry?

Workout the right target market with over 300 million users on Facebook and  300 000 new Twitter users added each day, you have to narrow the focus and approach clients or customers who you believe will have an interest in what you are offering.

Which sites should the company use?

If you have enough staff to handle multiple social networking sites, then you can use more than two. Otherwise focus on one or two. Appoint someone to manage the page. If you can’t find someone in the business to manage the account, and it’ too expensive to employ someone, offer the position to an intern or create a student position for an hour or two a day to keep the site fresh.

Who should have access to the site?

Giving access to staff requires trust.  Choose carefully and assess the skills and character of those who can log into your page, or you may run into difficult situations – especially when dealing with former staff.

Privacy settings

On these sites, you can control what people see on your profile. Depending on the nature of your company, you should consider these restrictions. But don’t forget to keep the page lively.

Marketing

Marketing through social networks isn’t about selling- it’s about engaging your followers. The goal of the business environment of social networking sites is to provide a platform for an open, honest conversation. The companies that are most successful at converting followers into Rands and cents are those who interact most with the users and frequently post content related to their brand.

Using Facebook

Facebook’s Fan Page is probably the best place to market a company. The page acts as an upgraded user profile for brands, companies, and organisations.  As users become “fans” of your page, all of your activity appears in their News Feed each time they log on.

The Facebook Insight tool

This tool is used to analyse page views, the demographics of your fans, and the number of people who view (or stop viewing) your News Feed.

Ways to promote your company or product through social networking sites

Make the page benefit-based. This way the customer feels that they need to participate in the promotion. Do this by offering products or services for a limited time or offer exclusivity to followers.

Making your common products or services different

Look for things about the product or service that make yours better or different and discuss them.  Do not use sales-related messages on your profile all the time. Ask questions, provide news relevant to your business and keep followers coming back for more. Do not violate expectations as there is nothing more annoying than promising follower’s advice and then start selling instead.

Legal Issues

Although social networking is a good way to expand your company, there are issues surrounding privacy that you should always be aware of. This will be especially relevant when the new Consumer Protection Acts comes into effect in 2011. Don’t use fake profiles. Using a fake profile to monitor activity can constitute as an invasion of privacy. Create a set of rules about language that will be used and prepare a policy that must be followed.

Training

There are many training courses and workshops that you can attend. NetUcation offers training courses, seminars and workshops that are aimed at helping business to increase their focus in terms of Social Media. Courses include Blogging for Business, Social Networking for Business and more. Bizcommunity advertises a host of Business Social Media courses and workshops held throughout the country.

Network/multi-level marketing

Multi-level marketing (MLM) is a strategy in which the sales force is compensated not only for sales its members personally generate, but also for the sales of others they recruit, creating a stream of distributors and multiple levels of compensation.

MLM  does not have a good reputation

The problem with this marketing strategy is that many pyramid schemes try to present themselves as legitimate MLM businesses. Because plans that pay commissions for recruiting new distributors inevitably collapse when no new distributors can be recruited, many people, except perhaps those at the very top of the pyramid, end up short-changed.

What the experts say

“Multi-level marketing is a system of marketing that puts more emphasis upon the recruiting of distributors than on the selling of products. As such, it is intrinsically flawed. MLM is very attractive, however, because it sells hope and appears to be outside the mainstream of business as usual. It promises wealth and independence to all. Unfortunately, no matter what the product, MLM is doomed to produce more failures than successes”. (Source: From Abracadabra to Zombies, Don Wulffson).

There are exceptions

However, much depends on the product. Some well-known companies that use mutli-level marketing are Amway, Herbalife and Avon Products.  One of the biggest problems that these companies have to face is saturation of the market. Eventually, as the market dries up, the MLM strategy will fail, as there is no one left to buy the products.

Rather use a more traditional strategy

A solid marketing strategy is the foundation of a great marketing plan. These articles show you how to create and execute an effective marketing strategy that will take your product, service or brand to the next level.

Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is quite different from traditional marketing efforts. Guerrilla marketing means going after the conventional goals of profits, sales and growth but doing it by using unconventional means, such as expanding offerings during gloomy economic days to inspire customers to increase the size of each purchase.

Instead of asking that you invest money, guerrilla marketing suggests you invest time, energy, imagination and knowledge. It puts profits, not sales, as the main yardstick. It urges that you grow geometrically by enlarging the size of each transaction, having more transactions per year with each customer and tapping the enormous referral power of current customers. It does this through one of the most powerful marketing weapons around: the telephone.

The telephone is a remarkably effective follow-up weapon. Don’t use the phone to follow up all your mailings to customers, but research has proved that it will always boost your sales and profits. Sure, telephone follow-up is a tough task. But it works.

Anyhow, no one ever said that guerrilla marketing is easy. E-mail ranks up there with the telephone, possibly even out outranking it. It’s inexpensive; it’s fast; it lets you prove that you really care; and it helps strengthen your relationship.

Lean upon your website as well. Instead of telling your whole story with other marketing, use that other marketing to direct people to your site. Then use the site to give a lot of information and advance the sale to its conclusion.

A key to online success is creating a brief, enticing e-mail that directs readers to a website that gives enough information for a person to make an intelligent purchase decision. Guerrilla marketing preaches fervent follow-up, co-operation instead of competition, “you” marketing rather than “me” marketing, dialogues instead of monologues, counting relationships instead of counting sales, and aiming at individuals instead of groups.

All guerrillas realise that the process of marketing is very much akin to the process of agriculture. Their marketing plans are the seeds they plant. Their marketing activities are the nourishment they give to each plant. Their profits are the harvest they reap.

They know those profits don’t come in a short time. But come they do if you start with a plan and commit to it. Guerrillas know they must seek profits from their current customers. They worship at the shrine of customer follow-up. They are world-class experts at getting their customers to expand the size of their purchases.

Because the cost of selling to a new customer is six times higher than selling to an existing customer, guerrilla marketers turn their gaze from strangers to friends. This reduces the cost of marketing while reinforcing the customer relationship.

When your customers are confronted with their daily blizzard of junk mail and unwanted e-mail, your mailing piece won’t be scrapped with the others and your e-mail won’t be instantly deleted. After all, these people know you, identify with you and trust you.

So they will be delighted to purchase, or at least check out, that new product or service you’re offering. They will always be inclined to buy from a company they have patronised. Guerrillas are able to think of additional products and services that can establish new sources of profits to them.

They are constantly on the alert for strategic alliances, fusing marketing efforts with others in order to market aggressively while reducing marketing investment. The Internet and your bookstore are teeming with a treasure trove of marketing tactics that can help you discover smart guerrilla marketing tactics.

But learning about them is only half the battle; if you don’t begin putting them into practice, you won’t see the results these types of marketing efforts can have on your bottom line.

Referral Marketing

Referral fees are one of the most effective ways to rake in new clients. The business of referrals makes excellent sense especially for companies who have limited resources or a small sales team. Referral marketing reduces your sales expenses and sales cycle. It can help to reduce cold calling and sales staff can focus on leads.

According to, Tom Hopkins, an authority on the subject of selling in the USA, “Your closing ratio for non-qualified leads is 10 percent versus a 60 percent close ratio with referred leads”. Approach customers, friends or family who are impressed with your business and offer them a referral fee for any leads that turn into sales. Make sure their network is the type of client you want.

How are referral fees structured?

In South Africa, a referral fee is usually in the region of 5-7 percent of the value of the deal that results from the referral. However, there are many forms of referral fees. Take estate agents, they will offer their conveyance work to a particular firm of attorneys in return for a referral fee.

The amount would be agreed to between the parties. If a plumber does work for you fixing, for example, a stove and you ask him if he can install a solar geyser in your home, he might tell you this type of work is not within his area of expertise.

Nevertheless, he refers you to a solar geyser specialist who you in turn engage to install the geyser. For this referral, the plumber would receive a referral fee, if the two businesses have an agreement in place.

Survey Basket is a South African online market research company that works on a referral basis. How they structure the business is to charge a R75 activation fee for a subscriber to complete surveys on their behalf. You can get the R75 back in the form of a referral fee.

You will earn 200 points per referral which is equal to R20. You may ask why an activation fee is charged. This is done to prevent people from registering multiple accounts and click any answer just so that they can be paid.

The activation fee is a form of screening. Earnings are paid out at the end of every month; however, payments are only made once an account has reached 1000 points. Each referral scores or earns 200 points per referral that is equal to R20.

Marketing in Specific Industries

The Food Industry

How to promote the opening of a food establishment

  • Where are you situated?
  • Who would you like stepping into your establishment?
  • Who is your ideal customer?

If you don’t know who your customers are, it won’t make a difference how you decide to go about your marketing. Coupons are always a good pull factor, why not hand a few out? These are affordable to print so you shouldn’t be breaking your budget.

Running adverts in your local magazine or newspaper is a great way to get exposure, especially since you will be speaking to people in your area. You could also try some guerrilla marketing tactics. You also need to look at your brand.

What makes your food establishment better than those around you? They might be well known but how are you also going to become well known? What do you want customers to say about your brand? Work from there.

How to attract customers

Build good relationships.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Capture as many email addresses as possible by offering something like a coupon in return for their details.
  • Let your staff ask customers if they would like to sign up for your weekly newsletters in order to obtain vouchers for your restaurant. Have a short form ready for them to fill in. Once you start sending newsletters, include a voucher for a free beverage or dessert and tell customers about your new specials or live entertainment that might be taking place. Be sure to include one or two pictures of families or food.
  • Incorporate specials that happen on certain nights of the week and find a way to help customers remember it. Partner with another brand or store and host an event in your restaurant. Run a competition and tell your local newspapers about it for extra coverage.

How to get a coffee shop or restaurant to stand out from competition establishments

There are so many ways to stand out. In order to create a distinct brand, use a unique decor theme, create a fun menu or dress your staff in themed outfits. Choose a theme that will offer your customers a unique dining experience that they will talk about to friends and family.

You could also start a program that rewards diner for being frequent customers. This will add to that welcoming feeling and increase the chances of them spreading the word about your establishment.

How to increase foot traffic through marketing

If fliers, discounts and coupons have not worked then it is time to get to know the office employees on a face to face basis. Using food to lure them is one of the best options. When you drop off your flyers, put them in a basket of muffins or other bite sized snacks, this way everyone will be tempted to come back for more.

You can also ask to speak with the office managers and explain why you are dropping off the goodie basket and ask them to please place it in their kitchen or lunchroom. Find out whether you can bring by a menu for the various departments. If you are friendly and not over baring you should win them over.

How to market gourmet meals, to a wealthier market

Most people in this end of the market don’t choose to see themselves in that light.  This market didn’t get to where they are today by wasting money and spending it on unnecessary expenses. Offering value is going to be one of the best approaches to take, such as the value of good health and quality ingredients. Try to stay away from wording that will put an emphasis on luxury.

Green Businesses

How to market a “green” advertising business

A common reason why green marketing campaigns fail is that they don’t address the primary benefits to the prospect. While it would be great if everyone really cared about the planet, most prospects are really concerned about the personal benefits of using green products.

Focus on how what your product or service will directly benefit the customer, whether it be saving money or better health through use of a product, then you can throw  in the benefits to the environment.

Legal Industry

How to market a service business

The first step would be to take a second look at your adverts. Do the graphics and general elements need to be updated? Double check everything to make sure that your advert is still brining across the right message about your law firm to your audience.

You might also want to look at online advertising as this will increase your website rankings and provide your website with more traffic. Being online also gives you the chance to be found by users searching for legal services via Google.

Before drawing people to your law firm’s website however, make sure that it doesn’t need some revamping. So many businesses lose clients because their website is not appealing to the eye and not user friendly either. You can also have your copy written by a professional to give your content the wording that it needs.

The internet is the future, hence the emphasis on having a website. People of all ages do searches for products and services on the internet and this includes possible prospects for your law firm. By paying attention to your website, you can bring across your expertise, thus driving sales to your firm.

Networking should be another key marketing tool for your legal firm so arranging meetings with businesses in your immediate area is also important. People tend to prefer meeting someone on a face to face basis when it comes to something as delicate as legal issues.

Be sure to have a professionally designed brochure or business card to give them during or after the meeting. If you are looking to do something a little different, you can always offer free workshops or you could make an effort to find out about social and charitable fundraisers and meet potential clients there.

People want to do business with a law firm that they trust and face to face meetings will assist you in building a relationship with them.

Where to find information on marketing in a developing “third-world” country like SA?

The major differences between marketing to audiences in first- and third-world countries don’t only lie in above- and below-the-line mediums, but also in the communication of the message itself. Dale Hefer, local entrepreneur, marketer and founder of ad agency Chillibush, has written a book addressing these very issues. Titled from “From Witblits to Vuvuzelas”, it is a guide to marketing in the new South Africa.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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Marketing

How Do I Create A Content Strategy?

A content strategy is not simply a spreadsheet outlining what blog post you’ll be posting when (that’s an editorial plan). A content strategy is knowing why you’re creating content, who it’s going to come from and how it’s going to benefit your target audience.

Belinda Mountain

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Having a strong content strategy in place before you produce the content itself will ensure that you save time, save money and see real results for your company and brand.

Here’s how to go about creating one:

1. Look at your business goals

You can make the most beautifully shot video in the world, with huge viral reach, but if your goal was increased sales and the video didn’t generate a single extra sale, then what was the point?

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: 5 Ways to Improve your Content Strategy Using Video

Consider whether you want to use content to increase brand awareness, engage with customers or generate sales. And then create your content ideas to suit this specific goal.

2. Consider your target market

To develop effective content you need to place yourself in the shoes of your target market.

Are they a new mother looking for helpful articles on dealing with toddler temper tantrums? Or are they a CEO concerned with cutting business costs?

Imagine what they would find useful, informative or entertaining and then produce content like that.

This is also worth bearing in mind when it comes to SEO: What common terms will they be searching for on Google? Incorporate those into your content, but only where they fit naturally.

3. Look at frequency, format and tone

What are your resources like when it comes to producing content? If you have someone devoted to the task then you may be able to produce a new piece of content a day, but if someone is doing it as a side job, then one a week is more manageable.

Don’t produce work that’s of a lower standard – rather produce fewer pieces, but do them properly. Also think about what format your content will be in.

Will your audience respond well to videos? Blog posts? Infographics? Finally, consider your organisation’s tone or voice and ensure this remains consistent through everything you do.

4. Ask the right people the right questions

Most businesses have plenty of sources of educational and entertaining content, but few know how to get this information out of their employees.

Ask an actuary about the products they’ve developed and they’ll soon wax lyrical about what they do in a way that is seldom communicated to your target audience.

Ask your product managers about new trends in the industry and chances are they’ll get extremely excited about something on the horizon that your target audience would love to know about.

Extracting this information is about asking the right questions and the best way to do this is often face-to-face. 

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: Content Marketing Strategies You Can Steal

5. Make a calendar

Once you’ve formulated your strategy, you can then start working on your editorial or content calendar. Add in deadlines, assign people responsible for each task, allow time for approval of content, and lock down ideal publishing dates.

Have meetings regularly with key stakeholders to discuss new ideas, who’s doing what and how the process is moving along.

Above all, be adaptable as you learn what sort of content your audience is engaging best with, so that your content strategy is continuously improving.

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Marketing

How can I use website copy to convert prospects into customers?

You spent heaps of money on designing your new website but it’s still not an effective sales tool. Here’s how to use web copy to convert potential customers into actual ones.

Belinda Mountain

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We all know that consumers are time poor these days. And consumers of digital media are even more so.

If you want people to engage with your content and eventually purchase your product or service, the way in which you present your information online needs to be carefully considered.

Related: 7 Questions To Ask Before Hiring An Adwords Agency

Here’s what you need to think about when it comes to copy on your website:

1. Put the customer’s needs first

You employ a very detailed philosophy when designing your products? Consumers don’t really care.

Your website should not focus on how amazing you are, it should focus on what benefits you can offer your potential customers and what problems you can solve. So do include your company philosophy on your About Us page, but don’t make it front and centre on your homepage, for example.

2. What makes you different?

If you’re in a competitive industry, you need to emphasise what sets you apart. Maybe it’s your award-winning customer service, or your years of industry experience, or your unique approach to sourcing products?

Make this the focus of your copy so that it’s very clear why a potential customer should choose you versus another competitor.

3. Contact details

I see so many websites where the contact details are placed only on the Contact page, or written in a very small font way below the fold.

It needs to be ultra simple for people to contact you, so make that phone number or email address clearly visible on the homepage – or even better, somewhere in your main navigation that then displays on every page of your site.

4. Calls to action

Consumers need to be told what to do. Write about how great your product is and then follow it up immediately with a sentence telling them exactly what action to take: Need more info? Call us on xxx (phone number) or fill in the contact form below.

5. Use short sentences and simple words 

Long rambling sentences lose the reader – short punchy ones work better. The same applies to words, so use simple ones as often as possible. Remember that simple doesn’t mean unsophisticated.

Think of Google and Apple, two of the world’s biggest brands. They use a simple and direct tone that still communicates their offering perfectly. Also check your tone: write as if you’re chatting to one person and you’ll immediately engage the reader.

6. Get specific and paint a picture

If you’re selling a sailing holiday in Croatia, don’t tell them that the waves are blue and beautiful. Describe the smell of the ocean in the air, the feeling of the sun on your skin and the taste of the fresh sushi caught on a nearby boat.

You can sell something much more easily if you get very specific and evoke an emotive reaction in the person reading your words.

7. Use formatting

No one likes long reams of text – you’ll lose their attention and a possible sale. Break up your copy so that it is easily readable by using bolding, bulleting and separate paragraphs.

Related: Is Search Marketing Still Worth Investing In?

8. Limited sales offers

Reserve space on your homepage where you can include blurbs about latest offers or special promotions.

This will keep your website fresh and allow you to capitalise on potential customers who may be interested in these offers, by encouraging them to click through and stay on your site.

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Marketing

How does the content in my email signature affect my brand?

How do your make your email stand out from the clutter?

Kgomotso Mautloa

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The world of communication is an ever-evolving one. We’ve gone from communication with cave paintings and pictograms, to expressing ourselves with words and the alphabet, and now with technology thrown in there – the communication mix has evolved into something incredible.

Related: 4 Revolutionary Behavioural Email Marketing Ideas

The most notable mix would be the combination of writing the traditional letter and telecommunication; in the form of email. Just like every other development within the communication space, this created the opportunity for people to interact with people in different provinces, countries and continents all across the globe, all at a click of a button – instantaneously.

According to the Radicati Email Statistics report, there were about 100 billion emails sent out daily in 2013.

In 2013, the majority of email traffic comes from business email, which accounts for over 100 billion emails sent and received per day. Email remains the predominant form of communication in the business space. This trend is expected to continue, and business email will account for over 132 billion emails sent and received per day by the end of 2017.

Copyright Ó April 2013 The Radicati Group, Inc

If you think about those numbers, you’ll realise that every email counts; every piece of communication from you needs to stand out from the clutter. The question then is: how do you stand out from all the mails being sent? Another important element to bear in mind is the way you brand your email and your email signatures.

The way you engage over email, and most notably your email signature, communicates more about your brand than you realise, which is why it is essential that a lot of thought goes into the brand and persona your emails and email signature, portray.

Here are a few tips to help refine your approach:

  • Make sure that you begin your mail with a polite greeting. Just like when you meet someone you greet them, email shouldn’t be any different. This, for some, is the “first impression” if you have not yet met the person on the other side of the email.
  • Spelling – probably the most important part of any letter/email. Always check that you’ve spell checked your mail. People will not take you seriously if you spell their name, or any other word wrong. Attention to detail such as this is important.
  • Type clear and complete sentences. Don’t type random phrases, slang or short codes. This lends to ineffective communication.
  • Email signature – make sure that your email signature has all of your contact information. Think of it as your digital business card when you aren’t able to give one to that person. You’d ideally want them to have all your information so that you can be reached.
  • Once you have those contacts in your signature, you can look at the social media links that you could add to your email signature. These have become the next best form of communication in the digital era.
  • If your industry allows, you could opt for a really cool email disclaimer. Most disclaimers are formal (with not much personality) and I bet hardly anyone ever reads them. But, if yours can catch someone’s attention, they will read it, and it will show the effort that went into making it stand out.
  • There are great email service providers that also allow you to brand your signature, both the top and bottom. Just like you would open your email with a pleasant greeting, opening it up with a cool graphic, call to action or anything relevant to your business.
  • In this day and age, everyone is communication on their phone or tablet. Make sure that you try and have an interactive signature that a person can click on links within your signature. There is nothing more frustrating for a recipient then a .jpg signature that you can’t click directly on details, and where they have to memorise information that you could have simply clicked on, especially with the advancement of smart devices and their touch ability.

Related: 5 Ways to Improve your Content Strategy Using Video

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