Small Business Marketing:
An Untold Customer is an Unsold Customer
At M&T Bank, we know that you’re always working hard to improve the bottom line and tell your story by marketing. We also understand that small businesses often struggle with marketing concepts. Businesses in the United States typically allocate just a fraction (2 – 2.5%) of top line revenues to marketing budgets. The key is making the most of that money. Getting a project off the ground is merely the first step. To succeed as a small business owner, you need tell your story - if it’s untold, it’s unsold!
No single marketing effort works all the time. The fact that a particular marketing strategy wasn’t right for your business doesn’t mean it’s not ideally suited for another.
Consider the following five marketing best practices to help you tell your story:
- Start your planning with research. Know your customers and get some feedback from them to form the basis of your marketing programs. Think about the phases of your marketing programs as research, plan, execute and measure.
- Determine what marketing success looks like to you and define success metrics. If you can’t measure it, you’ll never know if a particular marketing strategy actually worked! If your small business finds data hard to come by, you might consider looking to your local Chamber of Commerce for assistance. Data is the lifeblood that sustains good marketing programs.
- Rotate your marketing tactics and alter your approach. While you want potential customers to recognize a consistency in your advertising as you build a brand identity, research suggests that people will begin to tune out something they perceive as unchanging. Vary your cadence and approach, but don’t be arbitrary. Plan carefully.
- Social media is not a panacea. While a great tool for grass roots efforts, social media is not a substitute for traditional marketing activities. Properly leveraged, and managing risks, social media can sometimes enhance and augment tried and true marketing approaches, e.g. connecting members of a community with shared interests on social media sites.
- Small business is intensely personal. A handwritten note thanking clients for the business and perhaps offering them a discount can go a long way towards building customer loyalty. Consider including a second offer to your customers immediately after they’ve made a purchase. For many small businesses, 80 percent of their business comes from 20 percent of their customers. Treat these customers as a valuable asset.