Marketing is the key to success in just about all businesses. It's not unsual, in fact, for a mediocre product with great marketing to outperform a good product that is poorly marketed. Big businesses can dedicate a lot of money and staff to coming up with blockbuster marketing ideas for their products. Small and medium-sized businesses can't afford that luxury. So what can you do to improve your marketing results?
The answer is simple: keep trying marketing methods you haven't tried before. Ideas are plentiful if you look for them. Pay attention to what big corporations (as well as other small businesses) do to introduce and promote their products, and then adapt their marketing techniques to meet your own target clients and budget.
Here are 20 marketing ideas to consider:
Be different. Take your cue from big advertisers and brands and find something that distinguishes you from your competitors – then promote the difference. The difference could be your slogan, or a key difference in your product, or even a perceived difference. For instance, Are the luggage products you sell lighter? Does your environmentally friendly lawn service make lawns greener, "naturally"?
Form strategic alliances with other businesses. Look for businesses that reach your target market and consider ways you can work together. Whether you actively market each other's services, or team up to jointly work on clients' jobs, strategic alliances can extend your reach and firm up your bottom line.
Segment your market and create products or develop specialties that appeal specifically to the needs of each segment.
Expand into new markets. Sell your bakery products to local restaurants and catering facilities as well as directly to consumers; if you sell office services to small businesses, look into soliciting business from bigger businesses, and federal, state or local government agencies.
Talk to your customers – ask them for feedback. Ask them what you can do to better serve their needs. If you see a trend in what's being asked for, act on it.
Put your business on the web if you haven't already done so.
Get listed in Google Places.
Get involved in social media. Ask your customers which social networks they participate in, and then spend a few minutes a day participating in the one or two most customers use.
Fill out social media profiles with as much detail as you can, being sure to include website links and products.
Use direct mail to reach your customers. Yes, it's an old-fashioned technique in an always-on world, but it still works.
Send a card or postcard to customers to remind them when they need to come back for a checkup, or to remind them in advance of an appointment scheduled months in advance.
Put local keywords (the name of your city or county for instance) on your web pages and in title tags to help web searchers find you.
Add share buttons to your website and encourage visitors to use them
Send email to your customers. Plan regularly scheduled emails providing your customers with coupons and special offers, product tips, helpful hints for improving their business or their personal lives, or other information that will help them remember you and visit your store or website again. Constant Contact* is one email service that makes it easy to send eye-catching emails to your customer list.
Include your telephone number in your pay per click ads to make it easier for customers to call for more information or call to make a purchase.
Make the telephone number on your website a click-to-call link to make it easy for customers using smart phones to call you.
Advertise in weekly shoppers and the classified sections of local weekly papers if your business is local. Look for deals for getting your ad in both the print edition and online edition of the publication.
Give away something useful with a purchase over a certain dollar amount. You might give an inexpensive lint brush with clothing purchases over $100, say, or a thumb drive to new customers who hire you to make their PowerPoint presentation look good.
Be proactive and be persistent. You didn't learn to ride a bicycle when you were a child by thinking about how to ride a bicycle. You went out and tried, and tried again until you learned to balance yourself and then gradually picked up speed. Marketing is no different. You have to keep at it until you find what works for you. Then, if you want to continue your momentum, you have to keep on marketing.
Start today. Make your own list of marketing ideas. Include some of the ideas on the list above, or ideas of your own. Include marketing ideas you've used before and those that you haven't. Include marketing strategies you've seen other companies use. Then start putting them into practice one by one. Aim to try one new marketing idea a week. Keep using the ones that work, discard the ones that don't and watch your business grow.
Need more marketing ideas? Here are 32 more ways to market your business.
*Business Know-How is a Solution Provider and Authorized Local Expert for Constant Contact