How to Promote Your Business
Starting and running a business requires all types of demands upon your time and talents.
You must nurture your original idea and develop your product or service. You need to get licenses and permits and learn to comply with government regulations and taxes. You likely will need to learn to manage personnel as you hire staff. You have to understand income and cash flow to ensure you can stay in business.
And probably the most important part of building your small business is one that gets the least attention: How to promote your business. How do you reach those potential customers? How do you tell them you have the right product or service to solve their current concern?
In this digital age, a lot has changed about how you promote your business. The good news is many of the ways you can attract customers to your company are inexpensive or even free — but they will require some extra time commitment.
Here are 12 ways you can market your business:
Google My Business
If you have a physical location for your business and don’t have a Google My Business account set up, do it today!
With 88 per cent of Australians walking around with a smart phone in their pocket or purse, the first place they are likely to find out about your business is in a Google search. By setting up a Google My Business account, you are dramatically raising the chances your business will raise to the top of a search, even when people are searching by category, rather than your business name.
Google My Business gives you the opportunity, for free, to include your address, phone number, hours of operation, photos and more. Once you start accumulating reviews, Google also will show those in search results and high reviews will bump you up the search rankings.
You’ll want to keep your Google My Business page updated whenever you have new products, services, photos, etc. to keep a high search result.
Mind Your NAPs
No, we are not talking about the kind of nap most entrepreneurs wished they had the time to take. Online NAPs are all those locations that include your Name, Address and Phone number.
You need to ensure all of these possible locations are up to date with the latest information so first, your potential customers aren’t confused, but also search engines will downgrade you when they find inconsistent information.
While it might be easy to remember to update all your own sites, such as social media, when you make a change, it’s important to monitor all potential places that might have your address or phone number. For example, if you are a retailer and have suppliers with a website store finder, make sure they are current.
Designating one day a month to run a quick check through your NAPs is a safe way to make sure everything is up to date.
Beef Up Social Media
We mentioned keeping your social media sites up to date in the last segment. Staying active in social media can be a challenge for small businesses, as they can consume a great deal of time. But social media also is the best free advertising you can do for your business.
The question now is: Where do you focus your time on social media? The answer will vary greatly depending upon your target audience.
Facebook has grown a little long in the tooth as older users gravitated to the service to keep track of friends scattered around the country and world, but it’s still the most popular social media site in Australia with 15 million regular users as of June 1, 2018. Instagram has come on strong with younger users and now totals 9 million regular users in Australia.
Maintaining a strong presence on social media, especially those important to your target audience, will also help you maintain strong search engine results.
Create Video Content
Creating video content also is an important piece in any modern marketing campaign. While you could spend a chunk of money and get high quality video production, it’s possible with today’s smart phones to create good quality, low-cost video clips to promote your business.
Australians also are strong consumers of video content as some 15 million unique users in Australia view YouTube videos each month.
But video usage doesn’t have to be limited to YouTube. Video should be an important piece of your social media and email marketing, as well.
Part of what appeals to your potential customers, and even search engines, is learning the story of your company. These can be told in simple narrative videos from you and your staff.
Testimonial videos from customers also are a great opportunity to promote your company.
Of course, any video that can better explain your product or service and why it is better and unique from your competition can be persuasive to potential customers. Keeping videos short and simple (under 2 minutes) is most effective.
While many experts have tried to sound the death knell for email marketing over the past decade with the rise of social media and video, email still remains an effective marketing tool.
Response rates to email marketing have remained consistent over the years, and many marketers remain committed to spending budgets on email marketing.
For smaller companies, building an email database from current and potential customers will earn you a higher response than those companies who rely on purchased databases. You can use tools such as MailChimp to help manage your lists and campaigns.
CTAs in Email Signature
Another free (or almost free) source for gaining potential and return customers from your day-to-day email is to include a call-to-action (CTA) button in the signature line of all your emails.
If you have a small number of staff, you can include these visible links in each employee’s signature line. If you have a large number of staff and wish to create signatures that can be updated frequently with new CTAs, find an app such as Sigstr, that will add the CTA to each outgoing email so it remains consistent across the company.
Ask for Reviews
Encourage your best customers to post reviews on your Google My Business page, or on your social media pages. If you have an online business, you always can set up an automatic email that will go to purchasers encouraging a review with direct links. When selling through a company such as Amazon, they will seek the reviews for you.
If you’re more of a physical seller, you still can encourage reviews by giving your customers a business card or flyer with your links or printing it on your retail bags or receipts.
Unfortunately, dissatisfied customers are going to be quick to give you a poor review, so it’s important to give satisfied customers the encouragement to do the same. You most likely have hundreds of satisfied customers for each disgruntled one, but they are the ones to want to strike back.
If you rely on Internet traffic for your business or even seek to generate more traffic with your website, you want to make sure your site is optimised for search engines such as Google.
The search engines are always adjusting their algorithms to provide searchers with the best available data, so you need to make sure your website catches the search engines’ attention.
The best way to do this is to understand what keywords (or search terms) searchers used to find your website, and make sure you are keeping up with the ever-changing search engine landscape.
You will satisfy the search engines if you continue to update your website with fresh information. Stale websites tend to slide down the search engines’ priority lists. You can run your content through free SEO tools on sites such as Moz to make sure you get the best results.
Create a Blog
One way to ensure your website has fresh content is to start a blog and update it frequently — weekly is best but monthly also is helpful. A blog should be mostly informative and maybe a little promotional.
The search engines love to find fresh and authoritative content, and a blog about your business and industry is the great way to keep the search engines happy and recommending your site.
You can also share your blog posts through your social media sites and email marketing.
Build Status as an Industry Expert
A blog also provides a place for you to build status as an expert in your industry.
You also can gain status and attract other readers back to your blog and website by commenting on other people’s blogs and social media about your industry. Just make sure you include the link back to your blog or website.
Serving as a guest blogger for other sites also builds your status and attracts attention from the search engines as they see those all-important links back to your website from a growing list of other websites related to your industry.
If you invite other experts to guest blog on your site, you can attract their followers as well.
Participate in Local Events
To make sure you don’t lose focus on your local customers, consider participating in local events to attract customers. Depending on your business, you can participate in trade shows, local home and garden shows, job fairs and more. You also can sponsor events related to your business, such as a shoe store sponsoring a fun run. Be aware these sorts of events can be labour intensive, so you’ll want a good supply of volunteers to help you out.
As part of building your expert status, you also can offer educational events for the public, such as a ‘lunch and learn’ series. Or you can speak to church or local social service groups about causes your business supports.
Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget your internal marketing. Your employees are your best brand ambassadors, so they need to be informed about what the company is doing and encouraged to market the business in their own social circles.
You can encourage their involvement in the community or industry associations by offering to pay their dues for such organisations and providing time for them to participate in meetings and activities.
You also want to provide the best benefits to your employees, so they remain happy, want to remain with the company and even spread the word about what a great company you have created to work for.
Even making sure your employees understand their super and how the company and its employees share the responsibility shows them how much you care.
For more tips for small business owners, keep an eye on our blog.