After spending time researching your niche target market and developing a business plan, the next step is to launch your small business. Now, you typically want to start your soft marketing efforts online at least three to six months before your official opening. Let’s discuss some marketing strategies for getting customers in the door.
Some marketing strategies work across the board, while others are specific to service or e-commerce businesses. In Part II, we’ll focus on marketing strategies for local businesses.
Leverage Social Media Daily
Generating buzz for your new business with a social media marketing campaign is key. Six months before you launch, you should increase your visibility on one or two social sites where your target customers spend time. Use services like Buffer, Hootsuite, or Sprout Social to schedule daily social media promotions.
Go Live on Social Media Platforms
You don’t need much production equipment to go live on any social media platform. Make sure you have good lighting, a quality background, and a smartphone, and you’re good to go. Going live is another avenue for interacting with your target audience. You can give them a head’s up when you plan to go live or do it randomly. You can also send a notification to your followers when you go live, so they’ll be able to tune in.
Host a Site-Warming Party Online
How are you going to let people know about your new business website? Feature a countdown to your opening prominently on your home page. Host a live event on Facebook or Instagram with giveaways to drive traffic to your new website. If you have a blog, develop a series of posts specifically about your launch and highlight any special offers. I would create 10-12 pieces of content to introduce yourself and your brand to let readers know what to expect from your blog.
Build Great Landing Pages for Every Product
Landing pages are stand-alone web pages designed specifically for a marketing or advertising campaign. They’re highly targeted, goal-oriented, and focused, making them one of the best marketing strategies for launching a small business. A landing page could be signing up for a free trial, downloading eBooks, registering for an event, enrolling in a course, buying a product, or setting an appointment. Make sure to craft the page for conversion with a specific call to action.
Become a PR Machine
Do it yourself if you can’t afford to hire a publicist for the launch. All you need is a contact list for regional and national media. Develop three hooks to pitch your business to the press, and don’t forget the local business journal. Try one of these ideas:
- Create an exceptional guarantee
- Develop a special sale item for the opening week, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity
- Throw a contest for college students to create a video promotion. Invite them to create a 60-second YouTube video
- Shoot TikTok videos of people dancing to fun music while wearing your products
Develop a Subscription Service
Do you have an offer that people could use monthly? You could create a subscription service. If you have a business that touches customers frequently, subscriptions are great to support monthly cash flow, and a positive way to create a community of customers.
Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok have “Stories” that allow you to string together more than one picture or video into a “story” that will disappear 24 hours later. Stories appear at the top of a user’s feed when they open the app. Stories are great because they let you show what’s relatable and fun about your brand. You can show hints about upcoming products or speak directly to your audience if an issue arises.
Share Behind the Scenes
Behind the scenes footage is one of the marketing strategies that work best for connecting with your customers. Rather than use stock photos, humanize your brand by sharing real-life images, stories, and videos from behind the scenes of your company. Highlight your team and your process for building your signature products.
Make Short-Form Videos
Short-form videos are quick-hit content, typically around 15 to 60 seconds long. You can also create longer videos, up to 10 minutes depending on the platform. Short-form videos are popular on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. You can use different editing tools and music to make the videos fun and engaging. Most platforms have filters, captions, and stickers and allow multiple video clips. Reels also have a dedicated tab on someone’s Instagram account.
Collaborate With Facebook Groups
Facebook Groups are a great way for businesses to engage with customers and prospects. They allow for multiple conversations between many people that have similar interests. Building a Facebook group from the ground up can take a lot of work. To get started, you could look for established Facebook groups to partner with for a special drop-in.
Build a LinkedIn Profile
If you are selling B2B, LinkedIn will be one of the key marketing strategies you’ll use to boost sales. Build your LinkedIn profile from your buyer’s perspective. Make sure you are a resource, not a resume. Provide value to your target customer, making them interested and curious to learn more about how you can help them. All they care about is how you can help them.
Invite Customers to Special Events
Sponsor a special event, e.g., a ballet or ball game to which customers get VIP tickets.
Six months before launching your business reach out to your network (classmates, work colleagues, mentors, and friends) to reconnect. Do coffee, lunch, phone calls, and Zoom calls. You need to friend-raise before you can fundraise. When you get closer to your launch, call on your network to spread the word about your new business and ask them for referrals.
Attend an Industry Trade Show
Attend an industry trade show to build relationships and distribute your marketing materials. Set up lunch and dinner meetings with target customers before the show. The key thing to remember is that timely follow-up after the meeting is essential to growing relationships.
Focus on Keeping Your Customers
Marketing strategies focused on keeping customers are cheaper than those that chase new prospects. Your best opportunity to generate more revenue is to upsell an existing customer. The best way to upsell customers is to keep in touch with them. Here are a few ideas to incorporate into your business.
- Contact customers directly within 7-10 days of a sale to ask for feedback. Use the opportunity to invite customers to leave a review or recommendations on LinkedIn
- Conduct online surveys about your customer service
- Send an email newsletter at least monthly (weekly is best)
- Establish a customer appreciation day with a special sale.
- Send birthday cards
- Send holiday cards (It’s not just about the Xmas holidays; try Halloween or 4th of July cards, too)
Create a Referral Machine
Turn your happy customers into an unpaid sales force for your business. Incentivize your customers with discounts and special sales to tell their friends about your business. Find unique ways to reward and acknowledge your most loyal customers. Give a social media shout-out to your customers. Everyone loves acknowledgment.
Invest in Google and Facebook Ads
If you can afford it, invest in Google Ads and Facebook Ads. Google Ads can be faster to start with and have a wider potential reach than Facebook Ads. Still, Facebook Ads can offer more nuanced targeting with its pixel and potentially much more powerful tracking insights.
Use Remarketing Ads
Remarketing ads allow you to advertise to people who have previously visited your website, used your mobile app, or are in your CRM databases by showing them relevant ads when they visit other sites or search on Google.
Learn to Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator
LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator is one of the most powerful tools for B2B sellers. It’s a paid service through LinkedIn. You can save leads and customize your newsfeed. You can search your connection’s connections and ask for warm introductions to targeted buyers. And you can tag and take notes on prospects and clients for better organization.
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Stay tuned for Part II, Marketing Strategies for Local Businesses!