I love to be around creative, talented people who are doing what they are passionate about and therefore I have quite a few friends who are blazing a new, entrepreneurial trail. I too have that DNA and therefore love to help support them by applying my marketing expertise in SMB and Enterprise to their unique budding businesses.
As I sat in the hot air chair at my hairstylist’s the other day (I get the BEST ideas there), I contemplated 5 relatively easy, low-cost ways that people with small, service-oriented businesses can engage and attract prospects and, ultimately, increase their revenue. At the end of the day, as any business owner will tell you, the only way to keep doing what you love for a living is to have a consistent, repeatable and growing cash flow. Marketing efforts should always have this in mind and stimulate this.
1. Find the “watering holes” that prospects in your line of business go to for research, discussion, community, etc. Go there and make a splash.
The majority of service/product research these days takes place online. If I’m looking for a wedding photographer, for example, I will hit the net and start researching in a number of areas. I might go to Herecomestheguide.com, Yelp, Bay Area bridal online groups/forums/blogs, Angie’s List, etc. Find out how to get there and either be a participant (see tip 2), or have a listing as a vendor/service provider where you have positive customer ratings and endorsements (see tip 4…).
2. Position yourself as an expert in your industry and share relevant, non-promotional, helpful tips or info that relates to your service/industry.
Modern marketing is about having a purposeful dialogue with skiddish prospects. People can smell a sales pitch from a mile away and they will tune it out. However, if you are making an impression as a “trusted advisor” by providing insighful or interesting information around your niche, you will not only subtly spread the word about your company, but chances are, when someone’s ready/interested in the service you provide, they’ll turn to you.
Tools: social media outlets and email
3. Create a customer referral program with built in incentives.
One of the key rules of recruiting is this – Good people know good people. This is mostly true for marketing/sales also and can be rephrased as such – Good customers know other good prospective customers. Consider creating a fully baked referral program in your business. Think about your target audience/customers and think about what would be a worthy incentive to motivate them to refer others to your business (aside from superior service!). Start communicating this referral program to all new customers. Not seeing much impact? Try testing different incentives or even ask customers what would motivate them to refer you other customers.
Tools: gift cards, free services, free month of Netflix… you get the picture
4. Make the most of your happy customers and clients by using their (glowing) testimonials to woo other customers.
In addition to researching on their own, people look to others for confidence in services and products. Keep in touch with those customers that think you’re fantastic and get their quotes, testimonials, etc. Use them all over your website and promotional material AND get them to share in public forums (see tip 1).
Tools: website, public forums/social media outlets
5. Build strong partnerships with other complementary service providers in your industry.
You know that feel good phrase, “We’re stronger together than apart”? Well, it’s true! Especially for small business owners. If you can build healthy partnerships with other small business owners who provide complementary services/products, you will be able to help pass on business to each other. Are you a small business marketing consultant? (wink, wink) Build professional relationships with freelance graphic designers and web developers. Are you a wedding coordinator? Build professional relationships with photographers, florists and venue managers and share business. The more you can unite with others to create a “one stop shop” the more attractive you will be to prospects.
And there you have it. 5 Marketing Tips for Boosting Small Business. Share this with any small business friends who are down in the marketing dumps. For all you small business owners out there – what activities have helped to drive up your business? Feel free to question/comment below!