What marketing tools and strategies do Fortune 500 companies and successful medium sized businesses employ that could give your small business or personal brand a competitive advantage in 2012?
For free or low cost marketing tips, look to the BIG players.
The answer, of course, depends on your product, your business goals and the bandwidth of your human resources. However, there are some no brainer’s in the small business toolkit I highly recommend adding in 2012.
- E-mail management system: The big guys work hard to capture your e-mail during any online interaction with you. They’ll reward you, entice you, invite you and engage you, all in an effort to obtain your permission to send you future communications about their products and services via e-mail. E-mail is cheaper than advertising, direct mail, live events and nearly every other consumer facing promotion, and your small business or brand should be following the example of industry leaders. Set up an opt in form on your website, your Facebook fan page and include the URL for that opt in page on all printed collateral customers see. Even if you don’t yet know how you’ll use those names and e-mail addresses, start capturing them. Even if you don’t currently have a product or service to offer, start capturing them. Your “tribe” follows you because they’re interested in what you say, teach, offer or share. An e-mail database will help you deepen that relationship, share more, find out what your tribe needs and either create it for them or find a product from someone else to recommend to them. As that famous brand says, “Just Do it.”
- Segment the List: You heard “the money is in the list?” They’re not wrong. Your most valuable customer or client is one that has already purchased your product or service and is happy. Set up your e-mail database management system to allow you to see, at a glance, where any customer joined you. With e-mail database management systems like AWeber, MailChimp and others, you can easily set up multiple lists to reflect their point of entry into your brand, be it Facebook, a live event, a newsletter or an advertisement.
- Test the Opt in Offer: Experiment with different offers to see which one resonates with your customers. Do they want discounts on your products? Are they motivated by free content? Do they take action when you make yourself available to them personally? Use your current customers as a marketing research test group? Test your offers one at a time and see which one(s) motivate people to sign up for your list.
- Internet Commercials: This is a fancy way to say add video to your marketing toolkit. You can create video without spending a dime. Demonstrate something and capture it in video form using the built in software on your computer. With Apple’s Keynote, you can capture your presentations and upload them to YouTube and embed the video to your website. For a relatively modest investment, you can install Camtasia or ScreenFlow and easily create video demonstrations of your activities online. You can upload still photos and add text and create a professional looking 30 second spot using Animoto, all for free or you can purchase a pro account with much more flexibility for a just $249. Money or lack of experience is no longer a stumbling block for using video in your marketing. Your video commerical is only limited by your imagination.
- Google Analytics Account: You simply must know which of your marketing activities, launches and product offerings are driving interest. A Google Analytics account will tell you the number of hits your website is getting, how long people are staying on your site, which pages they are viewing, where they’re coming from (key information), where they are located and a variety of other information. This is a free tool and a must use for all small businesses and entrepreneurs.
- Social Communications Platform: Use asocial media platforms to amplify your message. A very wide variety of free broadcasting and communications platforms are available and easy to use. Try Tumblr, Facebook fan pages, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress, Blogger to name a few. Find the one(s) that fit your personal brand personality, ease of use and most importantly, make sure that the ones you choose are used by the audience you want to attract.
- Facebook ads: There is no budget too small to use Facebook ads. I have clients who are budgeting as little as $20.00 a day and paying an average of $0.07 per click. Some are paying about $0.75 per click and spending $50.00 to $100.00 per campaign. The price per click and the final costs depend on the keywords and competition for those words on Facebook during a given time period. You can set a daily or a lifetime budget and turn ads on or pause them. Facebook gives you the ability to micromanage your budget and to drill down to a very specific customer, when choosing who will see your ads. You can direct the end user to your Facebook fan page, to a specific tab with a specific offer or you can direct people who click to an outside website with a special offer. Facebook ads are one of the most inexpensive advertising options available to small business owners.
Make 2012 the year that your small business or personal brand tries at least one of the success strategies used by big, successful businesses like Target special offers to Facebook fans, Lexus internet commercials, Amazon’s new product launches and Wal-Mart daily deals. If you’ve used one of these strategies and have a success story to tell, we’d love to hear about it. We also invite you to leave your company URL in the comment section below if you have an example you’d like to share.