Small Business Marketing Plan – Increase your business profits without breaking your marketing budget
Most small business owners fail when it comes to their small business marketing plans. They have excellent technical skills at their job, but that just doesn’t mean they have effective marketing skills.
As a result, the profitability of many small businesses has declined over the years. The ever-increasing competition makes it more challenging in many ways. For those businesses that aren’t losing money, most aren’t producing the profit they could be if they knew how to advertise properly.
These business owners are usually just copying what they see other businesses doing or following the advice of some media seller. The problem is that they’re copying the wrong types of businesses, and media sales people usually know as much about effective marketing as the business owner.
Without the right kind of marketing system, the success of any business is purely accidental. To help remedy this situation, below are seven things a small business can do to increase profits while spending less on marketing.
1. Use the power of free stuff
Everyone loves getting free stuff and you can use it to your advantage. If your business lends itself to giving away free samples of your product, do it. It helps people get addicted to it. Business profits thrive with this marketing model.
As Chris Anderson authored the book titled “Free: The future at a radical price” says, “You can make money by giving things away.” In his book, he talks about how businesses give away products and services they’ve paid for, and in return a percentage of their customers buy something else. as a result, they make more money than ever before.
When you give something away, you often activate a universal law called the “Law of Reciprocity.” It says that when people get something for free, they feel obligated to do something for you. Obviously it doesn’t work every time, but it does work often enough.
But there is another way to give away free stuff that can be of great benefit to your business. When you do it right, you get something very valuable in return: customer contact information…which brings us to the next tip.
2. Start recording customer contact information and use it
One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is not leveraging their current customer base. They allow customers to visit their business (online or offline) throughout the day without ever trying to capture their contact information so they can continue to offer them products or services.
You probably know how expensive it can be to find a new customer. But you can sell to your existing customers for little or no cost. Capturing and using customer contact information can mean the difference between a profitable business and one that just barely makes it.
Your business has more customer value than a customer can absorb in a short visit, so if you’re not constantly marketing to your customers, you’re throwing money down the drain!
You can make it easy to capture leads simply by using the power of the number one free tip. Just start a monthly drawing to give something away for free and print some sign-up slips for visitors to fill out. Also get people to register online on your website.
Tell customers that they only need to register once for all draws and you will contact them monthly via email to let them know who won. Of course, you’ll always include a product or service offer!
What are you giving away? Anything with perceived value makes a great free item. Free items don’t have to be expensive. Buy something on sale at WalMart or on eBay and offer it. You can also offer free informational reports that help people solve their problems. People are always looking for ways to solve the problems they have.
Of course, once you capture this information, you need to do something with it. If you are too busy to take on more work, then the following advice will help.
3. Use automated tools to stay in touch with customers
Once you have a list of customers, I recommend that you send a minimum of 25 “messages” per year to them. The message can be email, direct mail, fax or phone call.
If you’re not using an automated tool to do the work for you, you’ll probably be too busy to do the work. When you automate, your messages go out regardless of how busy you are (the more messages that go out, the busier you’ll be).
One tool you can use is an email autoresponder, which is a web-based system that sends emails when someone signs up. It sends emails at intervals you set. You can also set it to send an email on a specific day, such as a holiday.
The great thing about the autoresponder is that you type your messages into the autoresponder once, then it automatically sends emails to your list. You can also broadcast messages at any time.
Using this tool, keeping in touch with your customers is easy and it will help your competition not to sneak up and steal your customers because they have forgotten about you and the services you provide.
4. Stop advertising like you’re a big business.
Marketing a small business like a big business is something that almost every small business owner does. They simply copy the marketing they see being done in big companies with big brands. This type of marketing is called “brand identity”, “brand building” or “image” marketing.
This is a HUGE waste of advertising money for a small business. You simply don’t have the resources to sustain a successful branding campaign.
Brand advertising usually doesn’t have a “call to action” (they don’t ask you to do anything). They just give you product or service features or entertain you without asking you to do anything.
Brand advertising is usually free. It is up to the viewer to determine if there is any benefit to them. It may contain a list of features and the user will have to set their own benefit for each feature. It usually focuses on the product or product supplier rather than the customer.
A successful small business marketing campaign is built around direct response marketing techniques.
5. Use old-fashioned direct response techniques in new ways
The type of marketing plan that works for a small business is direct response marketing. It doesn’t require a huge marketing budget to be used effectively. It can be used for all types of products and services.
And the good news is that you don’t even need to hire an advertising agency to do it, as it requires no creativity. All you need to do is learn the basic structure of direct response marketing and you can easily increase the sales your business makes.
Direct response sales copy always asks the reader or viewer to take some action ie. “Call in the next 5 minutes and we’ll throw in a free set of Ginzu steak knives!”.
It can ask for the sale directly if a full “sales pitch” has been made (one-step ad), or it can ask them to ask for more information (two-step ad). At the very least, it will require the reader to take some form of “trackable” action so you know if it’s working or not.
There should always be a headline for written ads! Never put your company logo at the top of a direct response ad. This is a brand advertisement.
Whenever you create an ad in any form, always look at it from the customer’s point of view. Look at it and ask “Who cares?” for everything in it. Do you think the client is interested in your logo? No! They care about what you can do for them. Put benefits, not features. Let the customer know what’s in it for them. Successful small business direct response advertising involves several things:
- An offer to buy something
- Sufficient information for the user to decide to act now (or instructions on how to get more information)
- A clear “call to action” sooner rather than later
- A clear way to respond, such as a phone number or web page
- Response Tracker.
Direct response advertising is not only used for mail campaigns. You use it in all forms of media: print, web, mail and broadcast. Take a look at all the ads you’re currently running, no matter where they are, and start making the change now.
6. Use the internet to advertise for free
Although websites as we know them have been around since the early 1990s, only 49%* of small businesses currently have a website *9/08, Barlow Research. It’s surprising how many businesses don’t understand how powerful this marketing tool is. If you don’t have a website, get one because there is no better source of free advertising!
There are hundreds of “Web 2.0” websites on the Internet where you post “content” for free. Content can be text, videos or audio that you create and can drive people to your business. It also helps you establish yourself as an expert in your field.
EzineArticles.com is one such place where you can publish content. There is no charge for publishing this article. All I had to do was write it, post it, and then you found it.
You can place links in the “author resource” section to drive traffic to a page on your website. The articles you publish on EzineArticles can rank extremely well in Google search results with a little help from you.
You also want your business listed on places like Google Local if you do local business. Once again, this is absolutely free.
Once you learn how to use the internet for promotion, you’ll have a head start on the future of advertising and get customers for free!
7. Outsource routine marketing tasks so you can work on growing your business
One of the biggest problems small business owners have is that they get so caught up in working ON their business that they don’t have time to work ON their business. So there can be no growth.
When it comes to internet marketing, there are ways to use “virtual assistants” to do most of the work for you. A virtual assistant is someone you hire full-time or part-time to do the work for you.
But a virtual assistant is not a direct employee, so you don’t provide benefits or have the normal issues of an employee. They are usually located somewhere in the world where wages are low, so they are very affordable. That’s the beauty of the Internet and the communication it provides.
However, virtual assistants are not limited to small business marketing plan tasks. They can do almost anything for you: reservations, scheduling appointments, answering phone calls, customer service, sending flowers, buying a gift for your spouse, finding someone to fix your car, website development, accounting , software development, writing, graphics or whatever you need.
There are many resources on the Internet that can help you find a virtual assistant.
Create your small business marketing plan now!
Use these seven marketing tips to start building your small business marketing plan now. If you procrastinate, your busy life will hinder business growth. Even if you take only a little of the advice you’ve been given, you’ll find that it can have a big impact on the profitability of your business.
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