The key to a successful business is a strong customer base. Once this base begins to build, if your customers like your product, word of mouth will play a large role in growing your base. But that doesn’t mean you can sit back and wait for the customers to walk through your doors! Marketing is vital to success, and the more unique your strategies, the more attention you’ll get.
It seems that everyone these days has a Facebook or Twitter account. Your business should, too. For the most attention online, it’s important to update these accounts daily if not multiple times per day. And don’t just mention your business. Connect to people on a personal level with photography, humorous posts, educational tidbits and human interest stories. If you’re active in your community (and you should be), network with other businesses and charities through social media to build your reputation.
Give It Away
Everyone loves something for nothing! Free samples and contests are great ways to increase awareness about your business. Don’t stop at the freebies though; once someone has had a taste of your product at no cost, you must up-sell, or you’re missing a valuable opportunity. One type of contest that is not common but gains a lot of interest are naming contests. Have a new, nameless product? Does your store mascot need a name? Maybe everyone’s favorite store clerk is getting a new puppy that needs a name. Whatever it is, involve your customers and encourage participation with a small prize. Engaged customers feel invested and are more likely to support your store. In addition, they just might bring the contest up in conversations with others, giving you free advertisement!
Go For The Record
Whatever product your business makes, someone out there holds the record for making it the largest or the fastest. Find out what that record is and break it! Make it a public event, and invite local media to publicize the event. If you have the space, include non-competing vendors in the event to sell their products (think concessions, hats, t-shirts) and increase community awareness. You may further increase interest by donating proceeds from the event to a local charity. Just be sure to plan ahead and advertise as widely as possible to ensure you have plenty of people present at your event.
Whether you’ve made a good impression or a bad one, customers are talking about you. Go to your favorite search engine, type in your company name followed by the word “reviews,” and read the results. Respond to the customers who’ve had good experiences AND bad. Thank those that sing your praises, and take the opportunity to throw in a plug. Maybe they loved your newest product; tell them it’s still available and now at lower prices. Take a moment to apologize to a customer who has had a negative experience. Assure them it is not standard, and give them an enticing offer to come back. It may not sound like a unique concept, but caring customer service is becoming less and less common. You will stand out if you provide it.
These are just a few ideas to get your wheels turning on how you can creatively market your business and catch the attention of your next customer. Don’t be afraid to try new ideas, and don’t let a lack of success with one prevent you from trying again.
This article was written by Christopher Waller, a retired small business owner, freelance blogger and technology enthusiast. Chris recommends doing more research on small business marketing to increase your sales, and even suggests using a marketing automation consultant.