Strategic communication isn’t solely for creative directors. Whether you’re writing for a trade publication or shouting out your favorite clients on Instagram, there are lots of innovative ways to push your brand. Here are five simple ideas to knock the dust off your marketing plan without breaking the bank.
1: Make New Friends But Keep the Old
Why do savvy small business communicators attend community events? For two reasons: First, they understand the value of meeting people, and second, they understand the value of people.
Get out of the house — so to speak. Be sure to join associations and frequent events with potential customers in attendance.
Networking events that may include companies with similar services to you might make it challenging to stand out. Instead hit gatherings where different industries are represented, like the Baltimore Business Journal’s Spring Business Growth Expo or the BWI Business Partnership Breakfast. It will be easier to become a person of interest.
Ask influential colleagues to introduce you to powerful people in their circles and take those new friends to lunch. You never know who may need your services.
And don’t forget your current clients. Smart business involves maintaining relationships, so keep the channels of communication open.
From the homeport, continue adding to your e-mail list, and send special deals to your loyal customers. Write regular blog posts to keep clients updated on your work. Create a short bio video for your web site and share it on social media.
Be active on the latter. It’s a great vehicle to build and sustain your audience.
According to Twitter.com, 85% of followers feel more connected with a small business after following the business, and 42% learn about products or services via this social media tool (convinceandconvert.com). With Twitter, you can keep the public informed about your business, market promotional material and highlight your best clients.
Speaking of which, you should be following them, as well as potential customers. Spark interest by hosting contests, and offer discounts to followers. Be active with your engagement via following back, retweeting and replying to posts. Most importantly, pay attention to what your clients are tweeting. You may be able to identify a need, possible partnership or areas of improvement.
3: Friending Media & Bloggers
Reciprocity is one of the main rules of marketing. Getting exposure from the media or bloggers is much easier when a relationship has been formed. It’s sort of a courting exercise.
Be sure to follow journalists and subscribe to bloggers in your niche. Comment, share and favorite their posts. Give them promotional items, services and content ideas. Become their industry expert. In time you will become their go-to resource, and their audience will become yours.
4: Tell Me What You Know
Take advantage of the do-it-yourself trend and share your knowledge with the public. Host educational workshops in your niche, post “how-to” classes on YouTube, become a teacher on sites such as Skillshare.com or participate as a lecturer at association conferences.
Many small businesses were able to connect with socially conscious organizations at this year’s Maryland Nonprofits “Tech to Tell Your Story” conference by hosting seminars. They all gathered dozens of new client possibilities from the experience.
Your expertise will be exposed by participating in these events online and in person. Offering courses presents yet another networking opportunity.
5: Somebody’s Talking About Me
Why toot your own horn when someone else can do it?
Positive reviews are a great way to convert new clients. Ask customers to review you on sites such as Goodsnitch, Angie’s List, Manta, Google Reviews, Amazon, Yelp, RateItAll, TripAdvisor or whatever service is applicable to your industry. It’s also a good idea to add reviews on LinkedIn (where other businesses are looking for information on you) and on Facebook (where customers want to know you more intimately). There’s truth to that old adage: Reputation is everything.
With strategy and tenacity you can watch your client list grow.
Anne Towne is president of the Towne Group, headquartered in Columbia. She can be reached at 410-952-0310 or Anne@TowneGroup.com.