How to market your business

Article

Marketing is all the activities your business does to drive revenue. It is the way your business premises look; the way you present yourself to clients and centres of influence; the materials you give to clients; everything you do to present your business to the outside world. It requires a strategy and the will to execute that strategy brilliantly.

The nature of marketing has changed, particularly in recent years with the rise of social media and influencers, so how can you navigate and effectively market your business for the world of today?

Start with a plan

Your marketing plan should tie into your business plan. Focus around your goals and objectives and move through the appropriate strategies to achieve those objectives. Your goals should be simple and realistic business measures, such as grow client base by 10% in 12 months.

Your value proposition

Beyond a catch phrase, what is your value to your target audience? How do you help them meet their needs? This will help you frame your marketing activities and capture the right clients. For example, your value proposition might be helping clients plan for and manage their finances.

Setting a schedule of activities

Your business goals and target clients will frame what types of marketing activities are going to offer the best use of your budget. While more conventional types of marketing like advertising and printed material can be useful to consider, some other options are below.

  • Website
    It is generally expected that companies will have an accessible website which can be used on any type of device. Ensure that you use simple and easy to use navigation on your site and there is a clear means to contact you on the site. Any information provided on your site should be relevant to your clients and your value proposition.     
  • Search engine optimisation
    This ties into your website. If your clients search for help on google, does your company appear? You can help them find you by ensuring your website content maps to specific search terms around your value proposition. For example, if you were an accountant, you might ensure that some of your content directly relates to the search query “how to do a tax return”.
    Some companies may take it further with paid search, which is where your company will specifically appear as an advertised search result corresponding to particular search terms. For example, a plumber might use paid search for the term “blocked sink”.    
  • Social media
    Social media can be an effective tool of marketing your business but you need to research the tools most commonly used by your target audience. Are they using weibo rather than facebook? Or Instagram instead of Snapchat? Perhaps it’s all about TikTok. Some clients may be best targeted using LinkedIn, while others may find twitter the easiest source of regular information. Each social media tool tends to have standard recommendations for use so it’s helpful to look at these when forming posts for them. For example, twitter has a character limit and using imagery can help increase engagement.    
  • Referral marketing
    Your existing clients are a valuable way of finding new clients. They know you and can give you positive word of mouth. Ask your clients regularly if they’re happy with the service you’re giving. Also ask them if they would recommend you to other family members or friends, and if they have? What else could you do to make them recommend you to others? It can be through research or informally, either way, they will appreciate being asked, and it might prompt a referral.    
  • Events and sponsorships
    Depending on budget, some companies like to use events and sponsorships to draw in new clients and increase awareness. Ideally, your choice of sponsorships should align with your value proposition or your company ideals. For example, if community involvement forms part of your company ideals, sponsoring the local sports club might be an option or perhaps involvement with country-wide appeals like drought-relief or fire aid. You could also consider sponsoring events that align with your typical client base. Are most of your clients parents of young children? Sponsoring the school fete or educational programs could be your fit. Running your own local events could be an option too allowing you greater control compared to sponsorships.    
  • Content
    There’s the saying that content is king – and done well, it can aid your marketing efforts. Content is any articles, videos, flyers or other materials that you offer to your clients or prospects either freely or at a cost. It should be relevant, timely and appropriate to your value proposition, as a basic example, an article on the best new cars out might be suitable for a mechanic or car dealership, but a travel agent would be better off providing content about best new hotels.
    Regular content can become an expectation for your clients so ensure this is an expectation you have the capacity to meet on a regular basis – whether you choose monthly or more frequently, aim to be consistent.    
  • Communities and networks
    Whether based around culture, gender, religion or sports, most people are part of community groups or networks. This bond implies an implicit level of trust and may allow you opportunities to speak. For example, an accountant could speak generally about taxation without giving advice and build both on trust but also attract potential clients or referrals by showcasing their expertise.

These are just a starting point, and what works best for you will depend on your business, your clients and your goals. Marketing is an investment into your business and, like most things, tends to be more successful when built as part of your overall strategy, rather than as an afterthought. 

Next: How to use social media to find new clients

 

 

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