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Get Schooled on Marketing for Small Businesses

Does wondering how to attract new customers keep you up at night?

Most small business owners don’t feel they have the time to keep up with marketing trends and stay on top of new technology. You know you should be doing more, but where do you start? It’s time to go back to school! Here’s a quick education on marketing for small businesses.

1. Write a Marketing Plan

One of the smartest things you can do for your business is to develop a marketing plan outlining your strategy for attracting new customers. Your mission statement is the foundation of your marketing plan. Use your business goals to create an effective marketing strategy. You will need to identify your target market, determine your unique selling position and develop the ideal pricing strategy. You will also need to determine your marketing budget and map out a promotional plan. Find more information on developing an effective marketing plan on thebalancesmb.com.

2. Create Marketing Materials

Cool, new apps are being created for swapping contact info at networking events, but don’t ditch paper business cards yet. They are still the standard — just make sure yours stands out. Consider professional design, embellishments which are relevant to your business or a brief “call to action” offering a special discount. You can’t, and shouldn’t, include everything about your business on a business card, so spend some time developing a professional brochure as well. Make sure there is a digital version available on your website. You may also consider a complete redesign of your website, if it’s been a few years, to keep it fresh and functional.

3. Engage in Networking

All the bells and whistles available on the web will never trump your interpersonal communication skills. Face-to-face networking is still a huge part of growing a successful business. Join your local chamber of commerce, register for a small business conference, or organize your own local event. Networking with peers will help you learn new strategies and may generate valuable leads. If you are attending a networking event, do some research in advance so you know which workshops will be most beneficial and which attendees you should seek to meet. It’s also a good idea to practice your “elevator pitch.” Think about what’s truly unique about your business, then create an attention-grabbing “hook” to start the conversation.

4. Spend Advertising Dollars Strategically

Conduct market research so you know who your customers really are. This will help you spend your advertising dollars more effectively. Buy ad space on relevant websites or advertise during television programs likely to be watched by your target audience. Facebook is a highly effective and inexpensive online tool for delivering ads to users who fit within specified demographics that are relevant to your business. Consider high tech and low tech options, from social media marketing to a sidewalk sign promoting your daily specials.

5. Use Social Media

Attempt to fully leverage the power of social media marketing. It may take some time — and perhaps professional assistance — to optimize your social media presence, but the payoff can be tremendous. According to a Pew survey, at least 76% of U.S. internet users engage in social media. Among young adults, 90% use social networks. Explore the power of marketing your business on popular social media sites including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Yelp. Find out more about the 10 top social media sties for business on Lyfe Marketing. Additionally, consider other internet marketing options such as blog posts and YouTube videos.

6. Focus on Long-Term Relationship Building

Not only do you want to gain new customers; you want to keep them! You must continually be building customer satisfaction. You want your new customers to stay with you for years to come AND to recommend your business to others. To ensure your clients are happy with your products and services, periodically ask for feedback through customer satisfaction surveys. Other ways to build long term relationships include volunteering your time at charitable events in your community. And don’t forget to send your best clients holiday gifts and birthday cards!

7. Enlist Professional Help

The internet offers many helpful tips and tutorials. You may want to start with Constant Contact’s video, “Getting Schooled on Small Business Marketing.” Sign up for a webinar or participate in a seminar to learn more. If you still feel overwhelmed and uncertain of where to start, consider hiring a marketing consultant. Look for someone with expertise in key areas such as search engine optimization (SEO), brand positioning, marketing strategy, lead generation and campaign development. Ask for references and a list of notable achievements. You may also want to consider hiring a sales coach.

The professionals at Brink Results offer many online and in-person training and consulting options and are eager to help you grow your small business!

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