Your business may offer amazing products and a fantastic service. It may have a clear, determined vision of what it is doing and where it is going. But if your potential customers don’t know it exists, your wonderful business is likely to disappear without trace. As Alan Sugar put it: “Your start-up will be a cock-up if you don’t learn marketing communications”.
But what can a small business do to get themselves noticed?
There are two options: pay lots of money to a marketing company, or do it yourself. The DIY route costs less (if anything at all) and lets you use your unique insight to create the kind of personalised, precision-targeted marketing message that an external marketing consultant could never pull off.
So let’s dip into the marketing communications pic ‘n’ mix to see what methods are at your disposal;
This hybrid of advertising and editorial is a newsworthy article written for a magazine, journal or local newspaper interlaced with relevant sales information.
Research shows that advertorials will be read by more people and generate more responses than a straightforward advertisement.
2. Business Cards
Most business cards are about as much use as a scrap of paper with a name and number scribbled on it. That’s fine if you are looking for a date, but not so good for showcasing your business.
Add in more details – such as the services you provide, images and a QR code – and your business card can pack a huge promotional punch.
Successful business blogs give readers a regular reason to visit a website, and they provide the means to build a personal relationship with your customers.
Rather than professionally crafted literature, they offer insight and information – so you don’t need to be a budding JK Rowling to write a best-seller.
If you want to create inbox-friendly communications that people respond to (rather than the kind of automated sales emails that are as subtle and as welcome as a brick through the window) it needs to look like it is written specifically for the person receiving it (however many people it has been sent to). ByteStart’s Guide on How to plan and run a successful email campaign explains all.
Corporate brochures sell your business, rather than specific products. If it is going to achieve more than sit on the coffee table in your reception acting as a coaster, your corporate brochure needs to be personal, not corporate. That is, it should be based around your readers’ concerns, not your business’s.
Facebook is a place where relationships are built and reputations are made by being part of the community. So don’t get any ideas about barging in, setting up stall and selling your wares.
Focus on the social side of your company and you will bond with potential customers in a more enduring way. For more help, read ByteStart’s guide on How to use Facebook to grow your small business.
The sheer simplicity and tactile nature of a flyer make it less ignorable and more likely to be read than most other forms of marketing communication. By making a single, simple offer to a single, targeted audience, you can pack a great deal of promotional clout in something that fits inside a back pocket.
Being strictly for business, LinkedIn may seem like as much fun as an Excel spreadsheet. But, with the right profile, posts and a few influential connections, the supercharged networking system can put you in touch with customers, suppliers, investors and new employees.
9. Press Releases
Designed to let us mere mortals communicate with the big shots in the media and, consequently, the heaps of people that read/watch it, a well-crafted press release is a way to make tomorrow’s headlines and grab some free publicity in the bargain. These guides will help you get it right;
- The 5 unbreakable rules of free publicity
- 21 killer ideas to get free publicity for your small business
- The 3 big mistakes that stop your press release from being published
10. Product Descriptions
Whether used in catalogues, brochures, websites, flyers, advertisements or on a label attached to the product itself, a product description should do much more than simply describe. It should give the product a voice, bring it to life, reach out to the customer, grab them by the lapels and give them a big kiss.
11. Sales Letters
An effective sales letter grabs the reader’s interest at the first line then takes them, one inviting step at a time, towards an irresistible ‘call to action’.
The simplicity of its construction, the precision of its composition and the efficiency of its narrative makes an exquisitely crafted sales letter part modernist masterpiece and part customer catnip.
Can a social medium be used for marketing purposes without spoiling all the fun? Yes – depending on who your followers are and what you do with them.
Twitter may not have been intended as a marketing tool, though neither was the telephone or the postal service, and look what a boon they turned out to be. For help on succeeding with Twitter read;
- How to get started with Twitter
- Tweets that get you followed and your business noticed – How to build a loyal following, 140 characters at a time
As far as websites are concerned, size doesn’t matter. Whether you are Pizza Express or Pete’s Café, your site gets exactly the same space on the screen.
The site that succeeds is the one that uses their space best to give visitors, and search engines, exactly what they are looking for. These guides will help you get it right;
- Turn your website into a deadly selling tool with these 5 steps
- 7 Mistakes you could be making with your website
- Making your website work for you – 6 steps for better results
- When to get SEO for your website, and when not to
Despite what marketing professionals will tell you, you don’t need to be a marketing professional to write effective marketing content.
Each of the methods described here can be expertly produced by following a practical step-by-step procedure, like following a recipe to bake a cake or a DIY guide to repair a dripping tap. All you need is a good instruction manual.
About the author
This article has been written for ByteStart by Ashley Hastings, author of I’m Here! How To Write Brilliant Marketing Material That Gets Your Business Noticed (CGW Publishing). This invaluable guide takes the reader step-by-step through the creation and application of 13 different marketing methods, enabling even a complete novice to write effective marketing material like a pro.
More help on marketing your small business
You’ll find lots more tips to help you promote your business on ByteStart, try these for starters;