Like it or not, that's what makes a business run.
It's easy to gab about best marketing practices, but what tactics actually grow sales?
We asked a handful of experts about which marketing channels are the most effective, and we want to know what's worked best for you. We'll be discussing this topic in our fireside chat via Google Hangout on March 24.
Here's what the experts had to say:
Love your community.
Being actively involved in the community has proven to be the absolute best way to market our business.
Analyze your business first.
I'd suggest you analyze your own business first. If you define what your business is and what it's not then you can better plan your marketing. Once you determine what the nature of your business is then develop a strategy for marketing and selling.
1. What is your market? Who's going to buy your stuff? 2. Does your business sell a product or service that is new to its market? If it's new how much will it cost to educate the consumer on the worth of the product or service? 3. If your business has competition in the market how do you plan to compete? Hint: there's only a few ways to carry out a successful competitive intrusion. Sell it cheaper. Make a better product. Have better customer service. 4. What makes your competition successful? You'll have to beat them at their own game. 5. Is your market willing to pay more for better quality or customer service? If not then your business model will probably fail no matter how much you advertise. 6. What does success look like to you? In year one? In year two?
A great marketing plan.
The first strategy is a concise and well-considered marketing and business plan. This will lay the foundation for every other step you take, whether it be a website, social media, or getting a loan or line of credit from a bank.
As a public relations specialist, I rely on earned rather than paid media. With the abundance of ways to connect with an audience, spending the time to figure out what you are saying, how you are saying it, and who you are saying it to is more important and economical than spending money on advertisements.
Internet marketing, definitely.
I'm openly biased to internet marketing as that's what I do but I started in that due to the low cost of entry back when I was doing affiliate marketing trying to earn extra money. Search and social have, for us and our clients and we've done a lot of different things, provided the highest ROI in that the business coming in is pre-screened based on their interests and queries. Essentially, you're not wasting time pitching people who don't want your services trying to convince them they do, you're focused on being the best option for those who want what you're selling.
Beanstalk Internet Marketing, Inc.
Get to know real people.
I operate an online business and work mostly with online businesses. In my experience, getting to know people is important. Not just hey, I have 10,000 Facebook fans but really getting on the phone with people to chat. Doing that has brought me not only business, but connections, friendships, mentors, JV partners, promotion partners and some really cool opportunities like being featured as a guest in online events or interviews.
Amy Wright, LLC
Get some credibility.
Actually I have just launched a new business direction to take someone from a job they hate (or their own business they work a lot more then 40 hours a week in for little financial return) to becoming known as the expert in their field utilising no/low cost credibility marketing techniques to do just this including social media, sponsorship, book publishing, media, product launches & digital magazines.
Digital marketing, advertising, and content.
There used to be a big separation for B2C vs B2B, but anymore, we find that digital marketing, digital advertising and content marketing are the most powerful channels. Facebook advertising beats TV and radio in targeting and cost while reaching nearly the same number of people. AdWords advertising provides customers who are ready to buy. Non-advertising options are slower, and SEO has become much more difficult. A small business should plan to spend ad money on their customers. Their profit margin needs to be above $50-100 per sale, or they may have trouble profiting with digital advertising. Sometimes loss leaders are needed, in addition to larger upsells, in order to achieve profitability.
The Brian Carter Group
The best way to grow a business is to outsource tasks and work. I have used sites such as glance and desk to ‘palm off’ those jobs that will take up my time in an inefficient manner. If i feel that such work; data gathering, data inputting and basic design work can be done by others and allow me to focus my energies on what i have determined as aspects for which my knowledge and skills would benefit the business in a more efficient manner then I outsource. Overnight, your one man business can be transformed into a team of 8-10 people. Its alls a great confidence booster for young entrepreneurs to lead others.
Stand Up & Smile
The highest value channel for growing our business has been, and continues to be, referrals from existing clients. No other channel compares to a recommendation from a trusted source. Smart businesses will compile customer testimonials and success stories, incorporating them into their marketing efforts to amplify their value beyond personal conversations.
Combine old and new media.
Market penetration strategies should utilize all aspects of marketing, both old and new media. The quickest route to growth is to convert the early adoptors. Identifying key influencers that can establish credibility and convert others is mandatory. Replicate successes everywhere and create satisfied customers willing to share how great your business is with others. Create positive reviews and keep building a database of satisfied customers. Establish an online strategy that reaches out across the web to capture more and more customers. Build brand loyalty. Be everywhere and strategically utilize multimedia and customer engagement strategies. Refine and expand your digital on line presence. Automate everywhere you can. Monitor cash flow and expand operations by reinvesting in growth. Utilize analytics and be data driven.
Get in the news.
Many small businesses have a low budget for marketing. It is important that the public know who you are and what you can do for them. One way to do that at almost no cost to the business is a news release.
Any time your business has something noteworthy, send it to all local newspapers and to all organizations you belong to that has a newsletter. An example might be that you launched a new product, attended a seminar to learn more to help your customers, opened a new location, hired new staff, and so much more.
Watch what others have printed about them and keep what you send in, to about the same length and format. Try to find something of interest to the public to submit no more than monthly and include a cover letter.
The next step is to save all printed article and keep them in a great leather bound album to use for marketing in other ways. You can display it at, trade shows, and events you are participating in, when speaking publicly and so much more.
Above All Else, Success in Life and Business
Go with video
Video marketing resonates with your potential customer base, and this is crucial when you are a small business, as you typically don't have tons of money to throw into marketing. You need to invest in something that will work around the clock for you on many different platforms, and video does just that. A study from Brightcove found that 76% of consumers cite video as their preferred method of consuming brand information. 44% said video is most “appealing” form of media, with “engaging, sharing, authentic and shareable” listed as reasons for trusting video content versus other forms of communication. Animoto’s recent survey of U.S. consumers revealed some interesting stats at well!
My Company TV
What are your tried and true marketing tactics that have helped grow your small business? Are there any channels you find more effective than others?