Trying to find new customers in the age of information can be daunting. So many businesses are competing in the same place, and when you are a small business owner, finding the time to commit to marketing can be difficult. Here are the top five scary truths you need to know:
- Simply having a website is not enough. So often my clients will say "I've created my website, why aren't they calling?" Essentially, your website is a living, breathing billboard for your business. If you hang a sign on your window, only the passersby or the people who had already planned to visit you will see it. Your website is the same way. You need to drive traffic to it! Whether you use social media, marketing collateral such as brochures, flyers and business cards, or e-mail marketing - you can't rely on someone randomly stumbling upon you. If you use Google AdWords or Facebook Ads, know what your ROI is by tracking the insights and analytics. Unsure how to calculate that or know what to spend? Ask your advisor.
- Keywords and SEO matter. Many times when creating a website, we fall into the trap of "knowing the lingo". If you are an accountant, and you use a keyword like "Form 2235" (which is the form an LLC uses to elect S-corp status) it is highly unlikely that your customers are searching for that term. Using long-tail keywords like "how do I file my business taxes" is a better bet. You need to put yourself in your customer's shoes and decide what it is exactly that they are searching for. If you're not sure, ask them! Be sure that your website contains enough industry-specific language that you appear an expert or thought leader, but also make it user-friendly and easy to understand for your target market. There are many keyword search tools out there to help you find the most frequently searched terms for your industry. A few of my favorites are: Google Keyword Planner, Moz's Keyword Explorer, and Keyword Tool.
- Social Media only works if you post great content consistently. So many of my clients fall into the trap of using all the social links on their website. If you aren't going to update (or even create) social media sites, you should not have links to them. Broken links will hurt your page ranking and frustrate your customers. Know your target audience and only use sites that they would most likely view. This will save you lots of time, too! Share articles, pictures and video from other sites as well - you don't have to create everything yourself.
- Yes, Virginia - you have to have a Marketing Plan. I understand that it's a lot of work. But, in the immortal words of Ben Franklin: "If you fail to plan - you plan to fail". It doesn't have to be 50 pages, just a simple calendar is better than nothing. My favorite example is one put out by ThriveHive. But as with all plans - you need to have a goal in mind. Let's say you want to increase your sales by $20,000 this year. That is roughly $400 per week (if you are in the 0.000654% of business owners who take vacations). So, how many widgets do you need to sell at a cost of $40 to reach this goal? Just 10 per week. How many leads would you need to sell those? Let's say your average closing ratio is 33%. You would need 30 leads to average 10 sales. Easy math, right? But how many touchpoints or Acts of Marketing does it take to get those 30 leads? This is a little tougher to determine. Which leads me to the final Scary Truth:
- Successful Marketing requires Daily Effort. "But I have a business to run!" you exclaim. You can get amazing results with just 30 minutes a day. One of my mentors; Black Belt and Coach Tom Callos shared this simple Daily Action Plan with me years ago, and I have put it in a checklist form for you to use. It is just four steps:
- First; Do Ten Acts of Marketing a Day. This can be handing out a business card, networking, writing an email, a blog post, a phone call, a social media post, sponsoring an event, hanging a flyer, mailing a postcard - you get the idea. Ten. Log them. Delegate if you must.
- Second; from those (or from previous days) create 3 solid leads per day. These are acts that you firmly believe will turn into sales and/or customers. Log them.
- Third, once a week, Analyze your Customer Database. Whether you have 50 or 5000, spend the time to look through your list and group them into Good, Inconsistent, or Zombies (could go at any moment). This should give you ideas for #1. If you don't have a good CRM tool, or In-House method of tracking them, visit your local SBDC advisor and we can help you.
- Fourth, once a month - Make Contact with Every Single Customer. This is critical because it is much easier to sell to someone who already has benefited from your product or service than it is to mine new customers. Plus, they are your best source of referrals and reviews. Don't be afraid you are "bugging them" by contacting them once a month! They have lives, too, and it takes some effort to be top of mind. I bet your competitors are spamming them...
I hope that this article has inspired you to develop your marketing plan, or at least startled you out of paralysis or complacency. ;) If you would like a copy of the Daily Action Plan, please email me at Jennifer.Dye@wsbdc.org. If you are in need of a Certified Business Advisor, you can find us here.