Category Archives: effective marketing ideas

Affordable & Effective Marketing Strategies that Generates Sales

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customer paying for product from effective marketing strategyWhen business owners hear the term “effective marketing strategies,” they tend to see dollar signs flying out the window. The reality is that the most effective marketing strategies generate dollars IF executed with the correct expertise and tactic that targets the business audience.

If all that wording takes on a “blah, blah, blah” feel, it’s time to approach the marketing process by asking a few simple questions:

  • Who are the majority of the customers that contact the business (i.e. age, urban or suburban, gender, etc.?
  • Where are customers located?
  • How do customers communicate (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, E-mail, etc.)?
  • Is the target audience business or individuals? (B2B vs. B2C)
  • What makes the target audience choose a business (i.e. location, quality, green factor, etc.)?
  • What staffing is available for marketing? (Include online customer service in this decision because the two are related.)
  • What is the marketing budget?

The answers provide direction for generating ideas and choosing marketing strategies that are effective and budget-friendly. The specific combination of effective marketing strategies differ among businesses; however, this list of marketing ideas and steps for implementation can produce a marketing plan that generates sales efficiently and effectively.

Targeting local customers

The most effective marketing strategies are targeted and efficient. Local search engine optimization fits both criteria. This technology optimizes websites for search engines and a target audience, ensuring that the website shows up in searches done by local residents. Local optimization services can connect with customers in a 10, 20, or 50-mile radius from a specific business location.

How to implement: Simple optimization of a website is the first step (use these tips for easy optimization). For top-quality, effective optimization, contact a firm that specializes in optimizing businesses and can provide hard data that proves the effectiveness of the technology.

Building solid email marketing campaigns

Social media is not the “new kid on the block” anymore; social media marketing is a proven, effective marketing strategy. The key to getting a high return-on-investment from this marketing strategy is choosing the correct social media site and posting regularly. Most social media sites algorithms favor pages that post content on a regular basis.

How to implement: Decide which social media sites fit the target audience. Use this chart to choose the right social site or determine the site where customers visit through a testing process. Make regular posting (use this chart to set a schedule of regular social media posts) and responding to customer messages a priority (use this guide for providing excellent online customer service). To build a social media following, offer incentives and valuable content that inspires engagement by social media users. If the process is beyond current staffing capabilities, outsource the effort to an affordable marketing firm.

Offering (more) value

The businesses that reap the rewards of marketing are those that offer value time and time again. The term “value” in this case does not exclusively mean sales (though discounts are also a draw and should be included in an effective marketing strategy). Customers value information; this is an edge that’s surprisingly easy to offer with stellar customer service skills and a promoted marketing medium.

How to implement: Use social media or a blog to offer value to customers and potential customers. Add valuable tips through graphics and blog posts; if graphic design and blogs are beyond staffing capabilities, outsource the effort to an affordable marketing firm. Don’t hesitate to share content from other trusted sources as well.

Using online reviews to build loyalty

Potential customers trust online reviews; statistics show that they play a key role when consumers make the decision to purchase. Unfortunately, not enough businesses are harnessing the power of positive reviews AND turning a negative review into a positive customer experience.

How to implement: Monitor the internet for reviews, both positive and negative. There are quite a few websites that offer customers the chance to review businesses; when time is short, contact a marketing firm that offers an automated monitoring service. Businesses should respond to the reviews (even the negative ones) to ensure that every customer interaction is a favorable one (use these tips for effective online reputation management). When positive reviews come in, share them as testimonials to build trust with potential customers.

Prioritizing online customer service

Responding to customer e-mails and social media messages should take precedence in daily operations. This is not the case in many businesses; often businesses respond to messages “when they can” or “when we get around to it.” Customers expect a response; if a business doesn’t respond, they do move on to a business that can provide speedy information.

How to implement: Connect an e-mail to every social media site and monitor customer messages closely. Avoid responding to messages with a canned, one-size-fits-all response which can frustrate customers. Use these tips for providing excellent online service. When appropriate, respond to customer’s public messages privately; these can be situations where the situation is complex or deals with customer private information.

Marketing that Can Be Done in an Hour (or Less)

company manager with an hour for marketing businessGot a few minutes to spare? Use the time and these ideas to market your business and improve your bottom line. But like all great ideas, they come with a disclaimer: marketing your business is more than just a one-time effort.

Effective marketing needs to be continually fueled and maintained. But we won’t waste any more of your time with a lecture; time is precious, especially when your business to-do list keeps growing. We can give you a list of marketing tactics that take an hour to get started AND a continual effort to keep getting results.

Optimizing your website

Get started: Build or update your website with optimized content. Add optimized headlines, images and videos with optimized alt tags, and content that search engines and your audience appreciate; don’t “over-optimize” and make it unattractive to your audience—all that does is increase your website bounce rate and decrease conversions. If all of these terms sound like a foreign language, contact an optimization company that gets results for other businesses—and can provide solid data to demonstrate results. Optimization can be especially valuable for companies that want to reach local customers in local communities around a headquarters or retail location.

Keep it going: Add optimized content to your website through a blog. Regularly produce content, videos, and images that follow your sales calendar. Remember just because you’re following your sales calendar doesn’t mean you need to produce content that is entirely about selling your business. Write about topics that provide value to your current and potential customers. Use this list of content marketing ideas for inspiration. Don’t forget that your content is being produced to convert your customers; include links back to your website, search-optimized pages, and social media channels so your customers have an easy way to buy and ask questions. Publish your content on a regular basis (or assign the task to a content marketing agency or staff member). Fresh content is a major factor in how your website performs on search engines; use the content on social media and in future e-mails as well.

Social media

Get started: Don’t jump onto any random social media site (or even just choose your favorite). Take a few minutes to decide who your target audience is and research social media sites to decide what site (or sites) is right for your business (use this graphic with key statistics about the top social media sites to start). Don’t get in over your head. Regular social media posting is a must to get results; don’t choose too many social media sites that you don’t have time to maintain. Once you’ve made your final decision about the right social media site and number of sites you have time for, use this article to set up a social media profile for your business.

Keep it going: Make a concerted effort to take photos and videos that your audience responds to. In addition to sharing your content, don’t be afraid to share interesting articles and videos, notices of upcoming events (i.e. grand openings, tradeshows, open houses, etc.), pictures of your employees providing service (with their permission), and interesting things you see on the job.  Keep everything you share somewhat professional; you don’t want to give your business a black eye by making one of these social media marketing mistakes. Respond immediately to any questions that come in through social media. If you don’t have time to post every day, use social media scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to automatically schedule posts at times when your audience is online.

Send out e-mails

Get started: Start building an email list of customers and potential customers, with their permission. Ask for e-mail addresses at every opportunity: during in-person contacts, on your website and blog, and on social media (other ideas for building an e-mail list here). Use an e-mail service (i.e. Constant Contact or Mail Chimp) to create an e-mail template that has the same look as other marketing materials. Include content and discounts that your audience wants to read. Make your customers want to open the e-mail by creating an attention-grabbing headline.

Keep it going: Send out e-mails on a regular basis; don’t send out too many e-mails so you annoy your customers and they unsubscribe. To save on time, use content produced for your blog and automatically schedule the e-mails so you don’t have to be available to hit the send button. Include links to your social media profiles, website, and blog for future engagement opportunities. If you find yourself squeezed for time, contact a marketing company and provide them with information for the e-mail so you don’t miss an opportunity.

To maintain your marketing momentum, create a written marketing plan that can help you efficiently and strategically execute these marketing tactics. Write down your goal and target audience, and keep it in mind as you draft a marketing plan that follows your business sales cycle. For example, if you are a caterer, look back at your sales for the past year to dictate your marketing plan for next year.  Your sales team or customer service representatives would be an excellent source for this information; after all, they are interacting with your potential and existing customers on a regular basis.  An example would look like:

December-March Booking weddings (because of high engagement rate)

April-June Booking company picnics

July-August Booking weddings

September-November Booking holiday parties

This calendar is very simplified, but you can see how your sales cycle would drive your marketing plan.  Next, list the specific tactics you plan to use (i.e. once a month customer email, weekly blog post, daily social media post, etc.), deadline, and party responsible to execute the tactic. Be flexible with your plan and honest about your time demands. When time gets tight, don’t hesitate to bring in the experts and reallocate your hour (every week or month) to give them direction (i.e. images, customer questions, etc.) and get the results.