When starting out in business you don’t have a lot of capital to spend on marketing and so you need to get creative with what budget, if any, that you do have. Unfortunately, marketing is a vital part of any business and without it your business is unlikely to succeed. There are around 1 billion websites in the world today and many many more businesses on the street. Just think about how many businesses are in your country or even your neighbourhood. You have to make your business stand out for any chance of success and the way to do that is through marketing.
Luckily there are many cost effective ways to market your brand, product and service out there. You simply have to get a little creative and dedicate the time needed to get it done, because it can be very time consuming and is a full time job in itself, but definitely worth the effort. Because if executed correctly, it can really grow your business and sales.
Engaging with your audience can be done via social media, your blog, website or through live events. This type of interaction builds relationships, creates a fan base and is great for word-of-mouth. Everything from your shop window to your website’s ‘About Us’ page should be seen as an opportunity to engage.
Once you have built a fan base they will come back to you again and again and will choose to buy from you above any other brand regardless of price. Fans are vocal and will share their love for you which will in turn bring you new business.
Blogging is the easiest and most inexpensive way to market your company. A well-written and interesting blog is a great way to help people to get to know you and your business and is a fantastic way to engage your audience but must be used wisely. This platform shouldn’t be solely used to flog your goods and services however. You must share things of value within your area of business that would be deemed both interesting and relevant to your audience/niche. You could write about new trends for example, or comment on the news or what your peers are saying.
1. Know who you are writing for and why they should care about what you are sharing with them. You need to have a clear picture of who is going to read your blog and how it fits into their lives. Most people only visit a few sites each day/week. What do you need to do to make your site a place they must visit?
2. Make sure to create a title/headline for your posts that makes people want to click on them. With an enticing headline people are much more likely to share, retweet or ‘Like’ your post. Start with the headline before you write the post and make it as appealing as possible.
3. Write for other relevant blogs, which is a great way to gain a wider following and build your reputation as an expert in your field, which will lead to sales.
“If you want us to follow you, don’t be boring! ‘Good enough’ stopped being good enough a long time ago. Why not be great?” – Seth Godin, Brands Expert, Author and Speaker
4. Make sure you respond to any comments on your blog as this should be used as a tool to engage not just broadcast!
5. Blogging can also be a good way to earn some extra money through affiliate marketing and Google Adsense, provided you get a decent enough amount of traffic to your site.
6. When writing content for your blog or website, you could be tempted to make several changes and drafts before you’re happy to go live with it, especially all you perfectionists out there. But try to avoid this. It’s OK to make amendments but don’t put off going live until everything is perfect, because it never will be perfect!
7. Lot’s of people fail with their content because they don’t invest their time in creating quality content, they don’t execute it consistently and don’t promote or optimize their content.
8. In every post you should have at least one link to another post on your blog. This will drive people around your site and ensure they stay with you for longer.
9. Don’t make posts long and text heavy. Keep it short and punchy.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and all other social media should be used to engage with your audience, creating a community where people with the same interests can go to view your specialist content. Updates should be posted daily not weekly or monthly and should engage and listen not broadcast.
Tips for using Social Media for Marketing
People love to see what goes on behind the scenes so post lots of videos and photos. You can create short videos for Twitter using Vine.
Only post fun, entertaining, interesting or inspirational content. Don’t bore people to death.
Scour feeds within your industry and pick up posts of interest so you can share them with your followers.
Respond to both positive and negative feedback immediately. This is a very visible and public forum so make sure you do everything in your power to make people happy.
Measure your success and track posts and tweets that were most liked and shared to understand what your community wants more of.
Include hashtags with your tweets to get conversations started.
Ask interesting questions via Facebook and Twitter – facilitate conversations and get people involved.
Post content that is fun, interesting, attractive and engaging. Use lots of attractive images. You can use Pic Monkey to edit pictures and place text over them. Create infographics using Piktochart and create videos using Vine. Don’t be boring!
Link social media posts back to your blog or website by creating fun images with text overlays. You can do this for Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Make sure the content you post is slightly different on each social media platform. You don’t want to be posting the same video’s and images on every platform otherwise why would anyone want to follow you on more than one platform?
Each platform has to have unique content tailored to it specifically. This is where is gets time consuming but a good tip would be to focus on setting up and mastering one social media platform at a time. Once you have done this it will be easier to manage the creation of different posts for each platform.
Ask your fans to comment, share and like. Always add a call to action to anything you send out. These posts see a huge increase in engagement.
Follow your followers and interact with them directly. It show’s that you are interested in what your fans have to say.
Make sure you engage with the right tone of voice and language that best represents your business. But what ever you do, give it some personality!
Post regularly but don’t bombard people with hourly updates. Prepare what you are going to post a week in advance and use Hootsuite to schedule your posts to run automatically. This will save you a lot of time.
Public Relations is harder than one might think. Many people simply draft up a press release about their new company being launched or a new product coming out, and blanket send it to all of the journalists they have contact details for, and think that it’s going to be print worthy or of any interest to a journalist. It’s not.
Journalists receive hundreds of press releases each week and a lot of them are deleted without even being looked at. It’s not enough to inform journalists about what you’re up to. So what? Who cares? It rests on your press release heading and the opening two lines as to whether they bother reading on.
Essential PR Tips for Beginners
Magazines work months in advance, so in August they could be working on the November or even the December issue. Think about the themed content these publications run each month, or better still, call up your contact and ask them what features they plan on running as they’ll usually have a forward features list that they may share with you. That way you can develop a story around a specific feature they plan on running. Alternatively, you can do your own research and find out what special events or national celebration days are coming up throughout the year, and forward plan your releases. You can find all of this information on Google.
Look at the articles within the publication you are sending a press release to for inspiration.
If your business is fitness orientated you could write a feature with a nod to National Heart Week, or maybe you could write a feature for their January issue as these tend to focus on health and fitness for the year ahead. Or perhaps you could write about a new fitness craze that is taking over the UK. Share your story and the story of people you have helped with your products or service. Find the emotional connection in your story. What will people connect to? What are you trying to achieve?
Write down 3 points you want to get across in your press release (the main point of the story) and get these across in the first paragraph. If you are doing a radio interview, keep the three points to hand and when you get stuck go back to them and reiterate them.
Try to form actual relationships with key journalists from key publications as this will help you a great deal. Maintain regular contact but don’t stalk them or call them unnecessarily, as this will work against you! Don’t keep going back if they say no to a story. Be polite and talk through your story idea but know when to take no for an answer. Do your research and make sure you talk to the right person and not the editorial assistant or intern! Find out the relevant features editors name and address press releases and news stories to them directly.
Be a great source of information. Position yourself as an expert and offer to contribute to specific features they are already running. When doing interviews as an expert, talk about something you know about, where you can talk passionately and naturally. Don’t try to be something you’re not and don’t pretend to know everything. Give firm opinions and pick a side and a view point, but don’t be afraid or scared to say you don’t want to talk about certain things because you don’t have enough knowledge to speak about it with authority. Be natural, do your research and be as helpful as you can. If you do a great interview and they like you, they’ll more than likely use you again.
If you are being interviewed on TV or radio, make sure to record the interview yourself so that you can use it as a testimonial.
Launch your own survey using Survey Monkey and write a feature around your findings. Call up the publication(s) and ask if there are any specific questions and answers that they would be interested in publishing. Survey’s make great news stories.