So, how's business?
Have you been affected by this wonderful thing we call a recession? Are you trying to reinvent yourself? Think you have a great product or service but wonder why clients and customers aren't banging down your door?
Well... do you advertise?
I'm talking more than just an ad or a brochure. I'm talking about a PLAN.
What's your plan?
If you're like many businesses, you're consumed with the day-to-day operations. Running your business. Taking care of your employees. Looking ahead to the future. Often, advertising and marketing fall to the bottom of the list.
Really, it's time to re-prioritize.
If you don't market your business, no one will know you exist. No matter what you do, there's an untapped market out there that you just don't know how to reach.
Some of these ideas may or may not apply to you. But think outside the box, and you may find that the marketing tactics you've poo-poo'd in the past may just be your ticket to business success.
Again, I'm not talking about a newspaper ad here or there, or a two-week radio campaign. I'm talking about a media plan. It can be over a course of months during your busiest seasons (think lawn care services, tax preparation, or floral shops) or an overall campaign that changes during the year, just to keep your name in the forefront of potential customers. Traditional media encompasses a well thought out collaboration of print, radio, TV, billboards, direct mail or a combination thereof. For example, a car wash in town has strategically placed billboards directing traffic to their site. Their radio ads complement the weather forecast, and offer discounts during the dirty snows of winter and the rains of spring. Print ads have coupons to clip: a great way to track their marketing. Direct mail strategically "finds" customers within the areas they serve.
If you have a business, you need a website. It's just that simple. Research shows that most customers are no longer letting their fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages, but are clicking to the web - either directly or via search engines - to find what they need. While informational websites are the best, with multiple "pages" showing who you are, what you offer and what makes you different than your competition, a simple placeholder showing a brief description and location is sometimes just enough. My website, Kennard Communications, tells a little about me, the services I provide, portfolio examples, and a link to my blog. It's everything you want - or need - to know before you make that call.
I categorize this as non-traditional, but these mediums are gaining headway in our technologically-advanced times. There are a host of ways to "think outside the box" with your advertising. Online advertising - beyond websites - is a great way to get your name out there and allows customers to click directly to your site. Using sites like pjstar.com or ciproud.com, you can often pick which "page" in which you want to appear - sports, community, weather, financial, etc. If you're a restaurant, try peoriarestaurants.com. If you're a small business, look to the community websites such as Peoria.com, Upgradeyourlifestyle.com, or Explorepeoria.com. Off the web, many businesses find success with little-known advertising opportunities such as the back of grocery sales receipts, shopping cart advertising, or even bus boards.
Ah, that vague phrase. What does that mean? With more than 321 million people on Facebook alone, this networking site is a great way to get the word out. Make a page for your business; update your status with business tips, special offers and special events, and start gathering "fans" for your following. Join Twitter for even more up-to-the-minute news. And if you want to position yourself as an expert in your field, blog your ideas and opinions and showcase yourself as the go-to business.
The written word
Finally, no matter which medium you choose, use the written word to your advantage. Above and beyond a prosaic brochure or a catchy radio jingle, seek out those opportunities to get those words out. Many magazines like InterBusiness Issues, Art and Society, Healthy Cells and Midwestern Family Magazine take submissions from local contributors on a regular basis: some require an ad contract, others do not.
If you have a specific market for your business, start a newsletter with helpful tips and short, to the point articles that will keep you in the forefront of your customers' minds when they find they do need services such as yours. And don't forget press releases: the cheapest way to blanket the market about your latest newsworthy topic.
I've covered a lot of ground here, but there's so much more. While this information may seem daunting, you don't have to do it all. What you DO need to do is formulate a well-thought out plan of a combination of mediums that will optimize your business success. It doesn't have to break your budget, but it does have to be included in your budget. Spending money on advertising and marketing is one of the surest ways to increase not only your business traffic, but your overall revenues as well.