When it comes to running a small business, your marketing plan can make or break you — but with so many options, it can be confusing to know which way to go. Here are the basics of what you need to determine to help you start the new year on the right track:
- Create a brand message that clearly states who you are, what you have to offer and why you are the best choice.
- Always make a professional appearance and have consistent messaging.
- Decide the most effective marketing vehicles that will work best for you and your customers.
You may believe you have a clear understanding of how to define your business and what your brand represents, but still feel uncertain of the best marketing approach to take. If you are wondering if traditional media or new media is the best fit, studies show that a blend of each is the best approach.
A recent survey, “Social Media: Contrasting the Marketing and Consumer Perspectives,” determined that almost half of the 3,000 adult consumers and 300 senior marketing decision-makers surveyed reported to welcome social media marketing messages from brands they follow.
Social media offers highly effective new channels to reach customers and prospects by gaining access to consumers’ personal areas of interest. It allows businesses to start an ongoing, personalized dialogue with them.
As popular as social media has become as an effective marketing vehicle, it has not replaced the traditional methods of brand interaction. The study also shows a mere 19% of consumers report using social media to contact companies they use. Rather, 67% report a preference for email, 31% prefer calling and 30% provide feedback via the company’s website.
More consumers are getting their news and entertainment online but the evidence is clear that watching television and listening to the radio remain as popular pastimes. Your best opportunity, regardless of which media you employ to deliver your brand message is to: emphasize authenticity, engage with your customers and be honest and transparent.
Your goals for your small business marketing plan must-haves in 2013 should include the following:
Get Social Online:
- Create or update a clean and current website that is engaging and easily navigated.
- Share your own expertise and that of others you respect using a WordPress Blog.
- Develop a professional LinkedIn profile and participate by making recommendations.
- Carefully engage on Facebook in a strategic and considerate manner.
- Use Twitter to brand yourself and propose special offers and promotions.
- Regularly engage with your customers with permission-based e-marketing campaigns.
Stay Social Offline:
- Stay active in the community by engaging with professional organizations and local chamber memberships.
- Attend key conferences to network with those in your industry.
- Keep learning at workshops and seminars.
- Form strategic alliances and partnerships and to add value and expand your reach.
- Participate and give back to your community.
Help is available if you need assistance with adopting new marketing strategies. Consider taking classes or hiring a consultant for expertise in marketing methodology. Remember to invest in yourself and your company. It’s your best business strategy for personal and professional growth and success.
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