We cover a lot about how to start the business of your dreams, but what happens after you’ve been in business for a while? It’s typical for small businesses to go through a slump, or even, in some cases, to close. Here are three easy ways to avoid that, and start maintaining your business at the best of your ability! Continue reading
In the early days of a start-up, you have to wear pretty much every hat possible. You have to develop your products, sell and support them, keep your accounts and other legal documentation up to date, and never take your eyes off cash flow. All of which, plus managing a few people, takes up lots of time and energy.
Marketing is one of those things that are a bit ethereal. It’s not concrete. It doesn’t deliver immediate results. It’s so intangible that it’s easy to push it to another day. Isn’t it?
You may want to reconsider doing that. Ignoring your marketing could be the biggest risk to your company’s survival. There’s still time to get started though, if you keep a few of these tips in mind.
If events like the Super Bowl are any indication, celebrity endorsements are just as powerful a promotional tool now as they were when Babe Ruth first plugged Red Rock Cola. From Stephen Colbert cracking up over pistachios to Ben Kingsley’s ominous urge to drive a Jaguar, big business continues to shell out big bucks for associating well-known faces with their brands.
But is the long-term risk really worth the short-term gain?
When it comes to marketing strategies, celebrity endorsements are one of the biggest gambles a company can make. Should the star continue to appeal to both the company’s core consumer and increase sales to their target consumer, the celebrity’s contract cost will be a drop in the bucket compared to the profit increase. But if that star slips up, well, we’re all pretty aware of the consequences.
Each year, businesses all over the world push to find new ways of reaching new clients, making sales, and increasing revenue. While it appears that some marketing strategies have proven to be more effective than others, one thing is for certain: email will always be a part of any solid business marketing strategy, as it easily correlates to mass mailer marketing and other traditional business outreach methods.
However, because email is such a popular method used by nearly every industry, the positive effects begin to dwindle. Users who subscribe to e-newsletters and email marketing voluntarily will always be there, but those that businesses are attempting to reach for the first time have become numb to the mass mailing stimulus, and have learned to tune it out similar to the decreasing effectiveness of television commercials.
Fortunately, for businesses looking to reach out to new customers, part of the problem is also the ideal solution, and that comes in the form of social networking.
Marketing requires keen insight in how to approach a product, service, or brand and effectively get it out to customers or other businesses. As one of the main forms of communication within commerce, marketing has evolved radically with tech advancements and social media, but some principles still remain the same. Cutting-edge ways to market a brand or product will either capitalize on a new insight or reformat a classical view in marketing to the 21st century economy. In today’s economy, businesses demand marketers think beyond the everyday and try looking outside of the box when it comes to ad campaigns.
What Consumers and Businesses Want
Marketing techniques have evolved to work beyond the everyday concept of an advertisement presenting or selling a product or service and now telling them what it is. Consumers, in an ever-competitive marketplace that has been energized by the internet, no longer want ads that talks at them. They want something that many ads have lost over time: engagement. Consumers and businesses want to be engaged in how the item relates to the customer or how it will help empower them. This leads to a new school of thought and appreciation toward the customer where companies want the consumer to become part of the greater whole of the business’ mission.
Some companies will stop at nothing to gain an edge on their competitors and this has led to some of the most outrageous marketing stunts the world has ever seen. The following highlights weird ways brands have marketed their businesses – sometimes successfully, others times not, and one horrible fail that will undoubtedly leave you shaking your head.
When he opened his hot dog stand at Coney Island in the 1920s, Nathan Handwerker struggled to find customers. Hot dogs were relatively new, and cheap meats were eyed with suspicion. Undercutting other vendors only made matters worse, as customers didn’t trust what Nathan was serving them. An idea he hatched was he would give hot dogs away to doctors and nurses (when there were none around, he would have bums dress up as doctors and nurses in exchange for hot dogs). Thus, the public would see what appeared to be medical professionals enjoying Nathan’s hot dogs, and Nathan instantly won their trust. The business prospered for decades.
Successful businesses require risks and Sonic Yoga’s Jonathan Fields took a huge one in 2001 when he pitched a story about the scientific health benefits of yoga to Self Magazine. Fields recruited a college to conduct the study and he pitched the story to multiple editors. When interviewed for Self, he was told that it was too bad Sonic Yoga didn’t have a yoga video to sell. Without missing a beat, Fields informed the reporter that they indeed have a video in post-production, so Self was free to put that information in the article.
Both large and small businesses struggle with finding the best way to market their products or services. While all kinds of companies use similar marketing techniques, the way small businesses apply the techniques will be different due to the smaller demographic and customer base. There are five basic ways small businesses can market themselves effectively.
1) Give your customers free stuff
The customer should be rewarded for their loyalty and support by getting free or discounted stuff. Businesses can put coupons in community mailers or offer coupons on receipts for future purchases. Coupons in mailers can help draw new customers to your business while receipt coupons keep customers returning every week to get deals and free items. Use these methods to offer customers free trials or free samples as well. Offering customers the chance to try out a product or service will make them more comfortable purchasing it in the future.
When it comes to marketing, entrepreneurs have to remember that it isn’t always an “either/or” proposition, especially with small business owners that already have a physical presence with brick-and-mortar stores in place. You can still pursue traditional offline marketing techniques while getting your brand’s message out to a broader audience range through social media platforms. Diversity is key to capturing as much of your market as possible and offline marketing, for all intents and purposes, isn’t dead just yet – it’s still a tried and true method in the following areas.
Although newspapers may be seen as a dying medium with its main consumer base composed of baby boomers, there is a still good reason for you to have an ad printed in your local paper. According to the 2013 Nielsen National Cross-Media Engagement Study, newspapers have the highest advertising effectiveness ratings, beating social media, TV and radio in “Likely to Purchase,” “Usually Noticed” and “Advertising Annoyance” categories.
As a small business owner, you understand the value great marketing has on your company overall. From positive brand recognition to customer loyalty, making the right marketing moves can launch your business in all of the right directions.
Unfortunately, you also understand that ultimately it’s the budget that rules the roost; and if you don’t have the money to market yourself, you’ll simply have to go without. But not so fast! There are some economical ways your promotions can go off with a bang, minus the upfront bucks.