Your small business made it past year one – Now what? Part 3: Kick-starting your marketing and promotions efforts
The first thing to understand about marketing is that it’s not something you simply set and forget. Rather, it’s a responsive endeavor that requires ongoing adjustments to market conditions. The same tactics that you might have used to solidify your brand won’t necessarily maintain relevance over time, and this means you’ll constantly have to find new ways to refresh your promotional efforts.
So how exactly does a business that has only recently established itself kick-start new marketing and promotional efforts? Let’s take a look:
Clearly outline your objectives
Countless reasons exist for why an already-established organization might need to get a marketing campaign off the ground. This need for something will dictate the trajectory of promotional efforts. For instance, the objective might be to get your current consumers to buy more of what they’ve already invested in.
“For example, a pre-holiday newspaper advertisement may remind customers to stock up for the holiday by purchasing more than they typically purchase during non-holiday periods,” KnowThis wrote. In this case, the challenge is to increase sales of a certain item, and the solution is to frame the promotion in a seasonal context.
Alternatively, a business might be trying to rekindle a dwindling customer relationship or perhaps win back a client who had a negative experience. The messaging mentioned above therefore wouldn’t be applicable. A disgruntled customer obviously won’t buy into an upsell if they weren’t satisfied with the first sale. Instead, the execution in this situation must serve the goal of incentivizing the customer to come back. It could take the form of a special discount for the first few orders, or an exclusive, buy-one, get-one-free deal.
As Entrepreneur contributor Daniel Newman, put it, “Real customer service is what you do between sales.” Whether it’s a first-time sale, a redemption sale or an upsell to a loyal customer, how you engage consumers will ultimately determine their next action. Your marketing strategy of choice, then, must be driven by a very clear objective.
Use technology to hit your target
Once you’ve justified your reasons for kick-starting a new marketing effort, you need to find a way to target your messaging to the applicable audience. This is where some technological know-how can be extremely useful – and more specifically, some Big Data and analytics expertise.
Larger businesses have been using advanced analytics to create stronger, more personalized promotions for a while now. However, in the past two or three years, a slew of cost-efficient analytics options have become available to smaller businesses. According to Dataconomy contributor Hannah Augur, there are plenty of “lightweight” approaches to data analytics that small businesses can leverage.
“In fact, if a company has been collecting its own data in a ledger format (Excel, QuickBooks), they already have a great mountain of data,” Augur wrote. “This information already offers insights on promo and marketing campaigns as well as sales, and can be compared against external data for even more information – once you have the right questions.”
Additionally, Augur explained that social media data be an invaluable asset when it comes to really getting a good portrait of your target audience. She noted that there are several affordable solutions that can derive insight from popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Not to mention, because small businesses are nowhere near as clunky as their enterprise counterparts, their workflows can adjust far more quickly and affordably.
With these advantages in mind, small businesses have everything they need to hit their promotional targets with accuracy.
Consider a small business loan
Let’s say a small business has a new product or service launch planned. A lot of money has already been poured into researching and developing the offer, thereby minimizing the budget for effectively promoting it. In this case, a small business that’s armed with the new product – as well as all the knowledge mentioned above – is confident in its ability to reap dividends, but only if it has the company funding necessary for marketing and promotion.
In an alternative scenario, a small business has recently launched its online store, and before it can realize significant return on investment, it needs to create a promotional strategy to land on prospective customers’ radar. This will entail a mix of email campaigns, social media strategies, data analytics, cost-benefit analysis and, in many cases, discount offerings for first-time purchases. A local bakery, for instance, might generate traffic for its new online ordering system by offering 50 percent on the first order of specific items, but only on the first day. Any losses that might be incurred from this type promotion will be recovered with interest – especially if the timing of the promotion is just right (i.e. a month before mother’s day, or a few weeks before wedding season).
In either type of situation, a small business loan can supply the merchant capital needed to get the marketing effort off the ground, and ultimately increase profit margins in the long run.