Best Practices for Marketing Your Small Business

The most successful businesses are the ones who market the most successfully.

I read something along that line recently. I can’t remember where, but it stuck.

Some of us love to market. Others of us see it as the necessary evil of doing business. But however you look at it, your business can’t be successful over the long-term without it.

You don’t need a marketing degree to be successful at marketing your business. But you do need to know enough to know how to do it effectively.

The good news is there’s a boatload of information available to learn. The bad news is it’s easy to become so overwhelmed with all the advice that you’re in danger of swamping.

But you don’t have to be great at every possible method. Some will feel right for you and your business. Use those. Don’t worry about the ones that aren’t for you.

No matter which methods you use regularly, keeping these Best Practices in mind will lay a solid foundation for them:

Make marketing a priority

Don’t wait until you have time. Make time in your schedule. Every week, if not every day. Week in and week out, marketing needs to be a top priority of your business. Even when you’re busy.

Use a diversified approach

Choose 2-5 marketing methods you can get excited about, and use them all.

Whether it’s print ads, email campaigns, social media, a newsletter, content, pay-per-click, radio spots, direct mail…Using several different methods to reach your prospects and customers will get and keep their attention more than if you focus on a single method.

But you won’t be choosing those methods randomly, you’ll need to…

Know your target audience

So you’ll know the most effective ways to reach them, and…

Keep evaluating your marketing methods

So you know what’s working and what isn’t.

How can you know? Use methods that are trackable. Ask your new customers where they heard about you. Track your direct mail and email campaigns.

Google Analytics will let you know all kinds of detailed information about your website visitors’ activities.

Emails sent through an email marketing service (like this one) are an open book for all kinds of valuable information about open rates, click-throughs, etc.

Keeping track of responses to your various marketing methods will enable you to focus on those that work best for you.

Don’t forget about your current customers

Your current customers are both your most likely source of repeat business and your cheapest source for repeat business.

It takes 5-7 (or more) contacts with prospects before they’ll become a customer. You’ve got to overcome skepticism, build trust, keep in front of them.

Once they’ve done business with you and had a good experience, you’ve already built the trust needed.

But you still need to keep in front of them. This is often known as client or customer nurturing.

These satisfied customers are your source for the next best practice…

Ask for referrals and testimonials

Word-of-mouth advertising is the most powerful of all. If you don’t ask for referrals, chances are your customers won’t think of it themselves.

So be sure your customers have a good experience with you, then ask them to tell others they know about you. Or ask for the names of a few friends or business contacts who may want to do business with you too.

Ask for written testimonials and use them on your website and marketing materials. Be specific about who they’re from. If possible, use a first and last name, where they’re from, and a business name if they represent a business.

These do more to build trust with prospects than any other marketing method.

In the B2B world, customer testimonials are known as Success Stories or Case Studies. Having several of these on your website and in your marketing materials is a fantastic way to overcome skepticism in prospects.

Wrapping it up…

One thing to remember about marketing: you don’t need a team of Clydesdales or a talking lizard to successfully market your business.

You do need to make it a priority, have a plan, find out what works, and keep doing it.

It’s not easy, but it’s simple. Make 2015 your best marketing year yet.