7 Ways to Accelerate Your Marketing

By Kathy Bazan, BRC Small Business Consultant

As a mentor to small business owners, I offer several suggestions to re-charge, redirect, and re-energize marketing for my clients. Let me share my seven secrets with you!

  1. When it comes to new and shiny, hit the “Pause” button and evaluate carefully. (The same applies to several decades old marketing techniques which are seeing a renaissance of sorts.)
  2. Understand and be able to explain your brand.
  3. Prioritize customer service as your first goal.
  4. Develop your relationships, partnerships, and networking.
  5. Focus on getting results.
  6. Evaluate, select, and invest in the best tools for your business.
  7. Think in terms of quarters and short sprints when you plan your marketing.

Let’s dive deeper into each of these.

  1. When it comes to new and shiny, hit the “Pause” button and evaluate carefully. (The same applies to several decades old marketing techniques which are seeing a renaissance of sorts.)

When stressed, business owners often reach forward to the new and shiny marketing trends, fads, platforms, and hot topics to pull them out of a slump or reach back in time to a strategy which worked for them in the past like print ads. Be aware that just because a marketing technique is new and shiny or because it’s tried and true does not make a success for you right at this moment. Evaluate carefully before writing a check.

  1. Understand and be able to explain your brand.

In the Old West, cattle ranchers would heat up a piece of metal and burn their ranch’s symbol (or brand) into the behind of their beef cattle. This way, if the cattle wandered off, you could tell who the rightful owner was.

Today, branding is the well thought out promotion of a specific product or service through distinctive logo design and word selection.

Can you explain your brand? If not, hit the “Pause” button and let’s figure it out together.

What do consumers want? They want brands which fit their values consistently. While your color choices and logo communicate your design, use words to communicate your values.

a. What is your tone when you write?

b. How do you handle customer service?

c. With whom do you choose to work?

Now might be your time to refresh or redefine your brand and capture your ideas in your branding guide. The correct branding will help you connect to your ideal customers and accelerate your sales.

  1. Prioritize customer service as your first goal.

What did we learn during the lockdowns?

Businesses which built trust with their customers survived. How can you?

  1. Strengthen your feedback loops: Set up an anonymous survey system. Clients like to be asked how your business did. Give them the opportunity to share. Ask but don’t demand customer contact information.
  2. Improve your response times to positive and negative feedback. Other than scolding someone who gave negative feedback, ignoring their comments is the only thing worse. Respond diplomatically and offer to make it right. For positive comments, thank the client and let them know that you are rewarding that employee.
  3. Ask for reviews on social media, Google My Business, TripAdvisor, or Yelp! One restaurant offers a free soda to anyone posting a review while sitting down to dine. Two reasons: reviews boost your SEO rank and help potential customers to select your business instead of your competitors.
  4. Ask your faithful customers to write a personal recommendation or a testimonial for your business. These great reviews can be posted on a carousel on your website which flips through the reviews. Ask your clients if you can use their words in your print ads, in social media, and on your website.

4. Develop your relationships, partnerships, and networking.

What the pandemic showed us was the power of people to make (or break) a business. While clients generate sales for your business, it is your business connections, relationships, partnerships, and networking which build a strong safety net for your business. Any business owner with whom you have a relationship can refer potential customers to you (to increase your sales), alert you to access to capital opportunities, and provide you with the timely information you need.

Here is how working with other business owners can build your business—and theirs!

a. Concoct a creative cooperative program.

When I counseled business owners in Sedona, I knew that trail rides and wine tasting were popular with women customers…who sometimes dragged their male friends along. To market to men, I suggested that if the stable paired up with several craft breweries, they could create a trail ride and beer tasting event. It worked! Trail rides and beer tasting are now one of the stable’s regular options and have become a stable source of income for the stable.

Think about how your business could cooperate with another to create an entirely new product or service for your customers.

b. Develop your advisory board.

While you might not have shareholders or board members, you can create your own by asking your fellow business owners to provide guidance or asking your Chamber of Commerce to set up affinity groups which can provide you with direction.

c. Find up-and coming social media influencers.

By 2022, influencer marketing is expected to be a $15 billion industry.

While it’s unlikely that a celebrity or sports star will pay much attention to you (unless you pay them first), look for those influencers who are starting out and maybe more willing to partner with you. By starting early with these influencers, you may build loyalty which secures their coverage of your business at a lower price point and build the foundation for a long-term relationship as the influencers grow.

  1. Focus on getting results.

If you are running the 440 yard dash in a track meet, you have someone time you to measure your results. It’s no different in marketing. You need to measure your results to find out how you are doing.

For your click and mortar/online business, check your analytics. Which traffic results in conversations? What are your referral traffic sources?

For your brick and mortar business, ask people who walk in your store or reply to your online survey, “How did you hear about us?”

Do you offer coupons? Track the unique coupon source code to measure your ROI.

Identify those marketing efforts which aren’t getting results. Are they worth your time and energy? If you love doing them, can you do them differently and drive more traffic? If you are not sure if you are getting results, you might want to delegate or outsource this.

And then there might be activities you simply stop doing because the results are too anemic.

  1. Evaluate, select, and invest in the best tools for your business.

Good news! There are many freemium marketing tools for scheduling social media posting, or creating graphics, or producing e-mail marketing; these can lower your investment in shiny, new marketing tools.

Read the fine print: many tools have a limit on free: Later allows you to schedule up to 30 posts per platform per month. More posts than that and you need to pay Later or do it yourself.

Ask yourself:

  • Is there a member of your team who could do the tool’s work at a lower cost?
  • Does this tool give you advantages?
  • Does it save you time, gray hair, or frustrations?
  • What do the reviews say? Look at G2Crowdand Capterra for additional reviews.

 

  1. Think in terms of quarters and short sprints when you plan your marketing.

Instead of thinking long term, plan your marketing by quarters. Divide each quarter into two sprints of six (6) weeks each. This gives you the flexibility you need to adjust to your current market conditions.

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