danniewriter

Small business marketing on a shoestring

 

May is a time to celebrate small businesses. In our mail-order/drive-thru/cookie-cutter existence, you, small business owners, give our lives and communities character, color, and identity. Thank you.

I’ve written frequently about how tough it is for small business owners to think proactively and for the long-term when immediate concerns are so, well, immediate. I don’t have any answers to a lack of time, but I’ve run across some tips and resources that can help you market on a shoestring.

Writing for Forbes, Mike Kappel has seven tips for small budgets. Note: It has never been easier to start a website or blog than it is right now. If you’ve been putting it off, don’t. Start with a simple, one-page site with a concise description of what you do, where you are, and how customers can reach you. Make sure the site looks good on smart phones and tablets.

If you feel like your business gets lost among your competitors during the big annual sales, consider picking a new date for a promotion. Small Business Trends has some ideas, and a comprehensive list of lesser-known “holidays” and annual awareness campaigns. (Remember, May is National Small Business Month.) Don’t get lost in the crowd; find your own day and start making plans.

Need some inspiration? Check out the companies that the U.S. Small Business Administration singled out for recognition in their annual awards. Read their stories. Take a look at their websites. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I’m willing to be that you’ll find at least one marketing idea that you will be able to implement immediately.

Are you ready to write a marketing plan for your business? The SBA has a section of its website devoted just to sales and marketing. It includes a sample of a marketing plan to help get you started.

If you know you need to do a better job marketing, but can’t seem to find the forest for the trees, give me a call. The initial consultation is free.

 

Good advice, warts and all

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It pains me to recommend an article that contains grammatical errors, however, the content is pretty good. Shame on the author and Forbes.com, though, for poor proofreading and using a negative headline.

Finger wagging is finished, for the moment.

Daniel Newman makes some great observations about how businesses often miss the benefit of using social media because they treat it as advertising instead of a venue for dialogue and authentic information sharing.

Yes, social media advertising exists, and there is a place for it, but putting “ad speak” (One Day Only! Prices Slashed! Too Much Inventory!) in Tweets and status updates essentially just creates background noise on those platforms that users will be in a hurry to tune out.

“Most people aren’t on social media to make a purchase,” Newman writes. “They’re there to interact with friends, and learn about the world around them.”

As I’ve noted myself in this space, think like a user, not as a business owner. Why do you use Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest? Words such as “community,” “news,” and “ideas,” come to my mind. “Purchasing” happens on websites, through catalogs and at stores.

Depending on how comfortable you are with social media, this distinction may seem fuzzy. All the more reason to do some thinking, planning, and maybe consulting, before setting up that social media asset.

Here are some reminders on how to “engage naturally” as Newman puts it.

  • Share something of yourself. Post about things that matter to you and ask followers to respond in kind.
  • Share some of your expertise. Demonstrate knowledge of your business, the community, trends in your industry, etc.

Remember this post from last year that highlighted the transformation of River Pools? If you have yet to check out the video, I encourage you to watch it now. I guarantee you’ll be inspired and I bet you will get some ideas on how to create and sustain engaging content for social media.

If you think I’m harping on social media, well, you’re right. Check out this infographic from Marketing Profs and Morrison Foerster released Jan. 4 and you will see why.