The Insightly Insider: Simple Marketing Tips to Help Grow Your Business Without Breaking the Bank

 

Hello! My name is Megan Roth and I’m really excited to be featured on the Insightly Insider to talk about tips for marketing your small business with little or no money.

Some of the tips I’ll be discussing today I learned from working at bigger companies such as Adobe, while others I’ve picked up from working with smaller startups combined with a fearless approach to trying new things.

The best part (besides being cost effective) is that after this discussion you’ll be armed with dozens of takeaways which you can start applying to your business today! Since marketing is such a huge subject, I’m going to highlight some important yet simpler concepts that you can implement right away. I’ll then touch on some of the bigger topics that require a bit more planning and research.

I can’t wait to start this discussion and hear what works for you all!

 

I can’t stress how important creating a relationship is when doing business. Not only does forming a relationship with your prospects aid the sale, it also plays a significant role in making them repeat customers. And, it increases the likelihood that those customers will pass the good word along by making recommendations by word of mouth.

But let’s not forget your existing customers. If handled with care, the relationships you have with the people who’ve already purchased from you can be further nurtured.

My favorite way to reach out to customers is through email marketing. Email is not only a great way to build relationships it’s also an effective way to limit your direct sales pitch and provide content that is both entertaining and educational.

MailChimp, for example, can help you stay in touch with your prospects and customers at a large scale. And, when paired with a CRM, your content remains relevant and personalized to drive engagement. Here are some best practices I use when using email marketing:

  1. Use the “WIIFM” rule (What’s in it for me). Building relationships is about a conversation, not a one way street. So thinking about why someone would want to open this email and engage is a great indicator if it’s necessary to send.
  2. Use a CRM to segment and send relevant content. If you are tracking location in your CRM you can talk to you people about things happening in the area, or let them know when you will be in town. Likewise, if you’re tracking birthdays you can send customers a personalized birthday greeting. And, if you’re tracking a specific industry you can send industry-specific news. The golden rule is: The more relevant the content, more likely the engagement.
  3. Use compelling headlines. Seems cliche’ but using words that spark interest and emotion have a much better chance of being opened. Examples include “Limited Time” “Breakthrough” “Secret” “7 Tips” etc.
  4. Make sure your email looks good in all email clients and devices. You don’t want to waste the effort by looking careless or unprofessional.
  5. Make it easy for people to unsubscribe. Can’t win them all. If you make it easy for people to unsubscribe, you mitigate the chances you’ll get blacklisted, which prevents your emails from being delivered to people who really do want to hear from you! 

Another great way to increase relationships and get a meter reading on your customers is to publish surveys. SurveyMonkey has a free version that allows you to survey some of your best customers to see how you can improve your business and find out more information about their pain points. You can repurpose this information into quotes on your website and use it to enhance existing content that resonates with your users.

 

Your website is the going be the best place to create brand awareness and pretty much define your brand. Though it seems a given that you should have a website, you can  use your website to create more credibility in different ways. The easiest is through your company “About page.” Your company About page tells who you are, where you came from, and it gives your brand a personality. People want to know who they are giving their money to and that there is a person behind the website. Your company “About” page is the easiest place to do that.

Another area to create personality behind your brand is your blog. Your blog is an extension of your voice and a great way to drive traffic to your website. Not only can you highlight new information about your company, your blog can have content that aligns with your customers interests and and position you as expert in your industry. When writing content for your blog, choose keywords/phrases/topics that best describe what your target audience is searching for most frequently. This will increase visibility and ranking on search engines.

Once you’ve created awesome content and established your expert voice, you need a place to share it to the world. That's where social media comes in. Social media can seem overwhelming to people who aren't familiar with the concept, but trust me it's not that hard. It’s a great tool to get your content out there and, once again, give your brand a personality. Also when talking about personalization, this is a place to have 1-on-1 conversations with your customers which creates relationships. Social media applications include Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+ and many more. Your target audience and what applications they use will be the best indicator of which social channels to focus on.  Here are some best practices in using social media:

  • Monitor: In Twitter, monitor keywords (#-Hashtags) that align with your industry and target audience so you can easily jump into the conversation. In Insightly, some examples that we monitor are #CRM and #Smallbiz. In Linkedin, you can monitor what networks and groups you’re involved with are saying. Applications like Hootsuite make it easy for you to do this.

  • Engage: In Twitter, follow people who are thought leaders in your industry, and are talking about relevant topics that your target audience wants follow. Engage and reply in conversations that you can add to value you to with your business expertise. Retweet (share) content that is relevant to your audience. In Facebook, reply to comments, answer questions, ask questions, and create polls to get more engagement. Photo sharing is also a great idea.

  • Publish: This is where your blog comes in! Publish 1-2 Headlines linked to your blog post per week on each channel (if possible) and publish 1-2 original posts per week. Also share images, video, and content created by other industry leaders. This will keep your content fresh and relevant so people are more likely to engage and follow!

Following these guidelines will help increase brand awareness, uplevel your page ranking during keyword searches, and (best of all) increase traffic to your site!

 

You have this awesome website and you know how to create meaningful relationships with customers and prospects.  So how are you going to get more leads?  Lead generation is a complex (and expensive) methodology, so I am going to focus on a few key topics.  For example, what’s important to keep in mind when researching the best place to spend your money on lead generation. Second, what will get you the best return on your investment. Last but not least, what are some cheaper ways to find leads!

First is your CRM. Your customers have already bought what you're selling, so go down a level and begin exploring the different types of customers you have. For example,  I would look at the source they came from. That is why lead source is so important in your CRM. Once you find which sources work, you can then optimize for those channels. Also ask yourself, what are their demographics, what are their pain points, and what solutions have you provided for them. This exercise is called creating Buyer Personas. Buyer Personas are a great way of breaking down and understanding the needs of your ideal customers. Once you have this generalization about who your different types of customers and prospects are, the more you can customize your content to deliver information that’s relevant to their job role/responsibilities, and that directly aligns with their needs.

Partner Marketing is another very cost effective way to get in front of the right customers with a “soft introduction” by someone who has already formed a relationship. Partner marketing is about looking at your buyer personas to determine what other companies align with their pain points in the same way your company does. This also helps determine what other companies have a similar target audience.

A great place to find great local companies to partner with is Alignable. Alignable is a social network for local businesses so you talk to business owners about best practices in your community and partner with them to spark your local economy. Some ideas can be having a referral program in place or even have a discount in they are joint customers. I think this is a great, cheap way to expand your reach and support your local businesses.

Another way to get more customers, for free, is word of mouth. People are not shy about using review sites to get recommendations and reviews. Depending on what type of business you have, will dictate what sites you should concentrate on. If you are a local business, for example,  Yelp would be a great place to ask people to review. If you are selling to businesses, you might want to ask for reviews on sites like TrustRadius, Software Advice and G2 crowd. If you are in the services industry you might want to be on Angie’s List. If you want to know which reviews are important to your customers, look at which ones your competitors are on. Or take a look at which competitors show up highest in ranking when searching for reviews in Google.

So, how do you get these reviews? If you’re following the conversation and you’ve created relationships with your customers, you can ask (via email marketing) them directly! You can also think about implementing a Net promoter Score (NPS), which is a form of measurement that asks your customers how likely they are to recommend you on a scale of 1-10 scale (10 meaning the highest). The 9s and 10s (the Promoters) ask them for a review. The 7s and 8s, are the Passives. Lastly, you have 1-6s. These are your detractors who you should ask for feedback.

I would also suggest getting on the phone with the major detractors to find out what’s upsetting them and take steps to win back their confidence. This will mitigate the chances they’ll spread the word through a negative review. Most importantly, don’t take it personally. Feedback is a great way to improve your business, your product, and your relationship with customers!

Marketing is detailed effort and it can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Don’t worry. Look at it as a constant exercise that you perform, in small increments, either daily or weekly.  The thing with marketing is there is always something more you can do. So experiment with different partners, content, emails, posts and have fun!

Just because you don't want to spend tons of money doesn't mean you won't get noticed and hopefully these tips will help you do just that! Thank you all for your time and let me know which tips worked for you.

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Comments

9 comments
  • Welcome everyone! I am excited to share some of my marketing tips to you all and I am looking forward to hearing your questions and comments! 

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  • ok thank you 

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  • I'm a one man show and seeing this shows me that marketing should be at the top of my to-do list. Thanks for sharing this info.

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  • Hi Megan. In addition to location, industry and birthday, can you recommend other things I should consider tracking that would be useful when sending relevant content? 

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  • Awesome Thomas! Next up I will be talking about brand awareness and some ways to gain more customers so be sure to follow! 

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  • Hi Wendy! It depends on your industry. I would 100% track lead source (where your leads came from). For example, if you met at a networking event you can follow up that person the next time that event is happening to keep the conversation going. Also depending on what that event was about is a topic that lead is interested in. Tracking lead source also helps with reporting too. Buyer personas is a huge topic and I will touch on it in my last part, but this allows you to segment your different user types in detail so you can market to them more personally. Surveying your customers will also get you an idea of the different customer types you have and that will help you consider what you should track moving forward. 

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  • Really helpful! Thanks! Looking forward to that buyer personas part. 

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  • What's the best platform for a company blog?

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  • Hi Bengt! I would say WordPress and that is what we use. It is super simple and has TONS of extensions when you are ready to grow and invest more in your blog.  

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