We get a lot questions from people just starting their business, or people looking to really start marketing their business more aggressively, about which tools they should or should not be using. The challenge, like most things, is time and money. So where do you start and what do you use?
If we had to boil it down to the five marketing tools all small business owners must have that won’t put them over-budget or take up a lot of time, it would like this…
Do we really need to say it?
Whenever you hear about a product or service, the majority of us will go online and search for it. It is surprising that there are significant amount of small business that DON’T have websites. If you don’t have a website your business’ legitimacy and creditability are immediately questioned. The message you send is either you are to busy, or even worse, you don’t care. Either way it is a lose-lose outcome.
Your site doesn’t have to be a wonder of graphical arts. In fact, simple is better. The goal is functionality and not a contest to see how much stuff you can cram on your homepage. Make your contact information easy to find. List your products and services so it is clear what you do, and what area you serve. If you are a restaurant, then post your menu. If you are a retail store, make your address easy to find and provide directions. Again, whatever your business, make it easy for customers to be able to contact you and find the information they are looking for about your business.
E-Mail with Company URL and Signature Block
Do you know who I won’t email back… JoesConstuctioOhio419@gmail.com. I will reply to Joe@joesconstruction.com to get a quote on fixing my roof. Seems simple enough, right? It’s amazing how this little detail is missed by so many. What compounds it further is that setting up an e-mail with your company’s URL is very inexpensive. The ad you pay to put in the local newspaper for one week will pay for your e-mail URL for the next 3+ years. Furthermore, the impact it will have on your business will be significantly greater that running that ad in the newspaper.
Additionally, e-mail is the primary form of communication in business. Also, nearly every prospective customer you come in contact with is going to make their way back to your website from the domain listed in your email signature. This takes us to our next point, and that is when you are sending emails, make sure your signature has your company’s domain and a signature block with links to all of your social media accounts.
Think about your daughter’s friend’s parent sending you an email about a school project the girls are working on together When you respond, they see your signature and realize you own a restoration store in town. They click on your Facebook link and see pictures of the work you do and think to themselves how they wanted to restore that old rocking chair in the attic for mom on her birthday. Think this scenario is far-fetched? It isn’t. It happens more than you think.
Your logo is the face of your company. Your logo will be everywhere. Think about that for a moment…your office, your website, your letterhead, your emails, your invoices, your work trucks, your marketing materials, your desktop wallpaper on your work computer, your social media accounts, your business card, and on and on…
Your logo determines the look and the feel of everything you do. It can make your company look and feel professional and credible, or it can make it seem like you run it out of your garage next to that old set of golf clubs. Even if you do run it out of your garage a logo can give your business the look and feel it needs so no one will ever doubt the legitimacy, credibility, and quality of what you do. Again, like an email URL the cost of a high quality logo is not as expensive as you think, and very much worth the investment.
Which logo below represents your business better? Which logo do you think customers would take more serious? Which logo would make you proud of your business? Which logo makes you think of quality, credibility, and legitimacy? And do you know what the difference between the two are? About $300.00 – $400.00. Again, cheaper than running an ad in the local newspaper or mailbox flyers.
Often overlooked, business cards are a great way to market yourself and relatively inexpensive. A well designed business card can help extensively in portraying your brand and projecting the image you want to represent.
As a small business owner you are out there in the community, and just like your e-mail and website are some of the first communication potential customers will get from you, the business card serves that same function in face-to-face settings. Having your business card to hand out is simple and inexpensive. It allows you to leave an impression with people, and is memorable. It’s more than just your contact information. It is your brand and your personality. These are the reasons why people buy from you. Despite living in the digital age, business cards still hold value. Business, after all, is building relationships, and nothing will ever replace face-to-face human interaction.
Do you know what is the single most powerful marketing tool you have at your disposal, and is completely free regardless of your business? Customer service. The best and most powerful tool is not an app, it is not a piece of software, it is not anything online…it is customer service. Trust us, word will get around, and although you might be a small business, word of mouth about your professionalism will travel fast and reward your business exponentially. Customer service is in the culture of your business. Even if you are not the best at what you do, if you answer your phone, show up on time, and do great work, people will be more inclined to do business with you knowing that they can count on you respond to their needs.
It seems basic, but it is amazing how many small businesses and start-ups fall flat on this. Again, are you to busy or do you not care? Either way the outcome is negative. Customer service is more than availability. It is solving problems, treating people with respect all the time, listening, and doing what you say you will do when you say you will do it. Customer service is a serious and strategic investment that requires focus and follow through by everyone at all levels of your business. It is so simple, too. It’s things like answering your phone, being easy to work with, respond to emails quickly, treat people like people, and taking the extra step to help them out.