Top 10 Marketing Tools for Small Business
Drawn from The Marketing Toolkit for Growing Businesses
by Jay B. Lipe
1 Taglines (p. 174)
In 10 words or less, a good tagline reinforces a company’s reason for being. And for smaller companies, it can be one of the most efficient marketing tools. Develop one on your own, or turn to a consultant for help. Then, marry it up with your company name and logo whenever you can to tell the whole story about your business.
2 Consistent branding elements
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, a rancher would mark his cattle with a unique brand. This brand, depicting a unique image, distinguished his cattle from another rancher’s. A small business’ branding effort works the same way (Chapter 14, p. 167). The consistent use of branding elements (i.e. name, tagline, logo, colors, fonts, and typestyles) clearly identifies your operation from its competitors.
3 Calls-to-action (p. 194)
It’s not enough to just rattle off your product’s features and benefits. You must go one step further by telling your reader exactly what you want her to do next. Too often marketing materials effectively present a company, then leave the next step up to the reader’s imagination. This is a missed opportunity.
You’ll want to spell out exactly what they should do next. “Visit www.oururl.com and register to win”, “Call our estimating department for a free quote” or “ Email us with your suggestions” are clear-as-a-bell calls-to-action that should be sprinkled liberally throughout your selling materials.
4 Key messages (p. 183)
Remember back in English class how we were taught to write out a paper’s thesis before actually writing the paper? This thesis statement was the argument you wanted to assertthe central point of the paper. Think of key messages as the thesis statements for your marketing effort.
So, before writing any copy at all, jot down the three most important things you want to communicate in this piece. If you can identify these key messages first, you’ll find writing copy to be a much easier proposition (Chapter 15, p. 183).
Buyers of your product or serviceespecially first-time buyershave lots of reservations about doing business with you. Will your product deliver? Will you answer your phones? Will you be around next month? Written testimonials from your satisfied customers, scattered throughout your materials and website, smooth over buyer fears.
6 Search engine positioning (p. 199)
These days having a high-quality website, by itself, doesn’t translate into success. A large number of qualified prospects visiting the site does. If you’re not spending equal amounts of time and money on search engine positioning, your website isn’t working hard enough. One client of ours, who located us through a search engine, ended up generating a whopping 1,500%+ return on investment for our site.
Can you imagine a doctor examining a patient without a thermometer? Yet, this is precisely how many small businesses approach the analytics behind their marketing. Without metrics to track the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, decisions are just…guesses. Develop 2 or 3 key metrics (i.e. # of new leads/month, cost per inquiry, or sales calls/month) that provide glimpses into your business’marketing health (Chapter 13, p. 153).
A timeline is a year-at-a-glance calendar for your marketing efforts (Chapter 11, p. 128). A good one captures, week by week, launch dates and intermediate deadlines for all your marketing tactics. A complete timeline helps you better manage marketing implementation in the heat of the battle.
9 A Marketing Plan (see p. 65)
The cornerstone of any successful marketing effort is a marketing plan . Why? First, a marketing plan lays the groundwork for action. Once you’ve developed a plan, you’ll know the “why” behind each task. Second, a plan breaks the effort down into manageable chunks. The whole task doesn’t seem so daunting with your plan in place. And finally, a plan always gives you something to go back to in slower times. If your phones stop ringing, revisit the plan. It’s almost certain, you’ll discover new initiatives to address the problem.
10 An Implementation Process
Developing a marketing plan is only half the battle. Without proper implementation, your marketing loses momentum fast. Weekly project meetings, quarterly checkpoint meetings and active marketing management (Chapter 12, p. 141) are all needed to ensure successful implementation.
Clearly stating who is responsible for each project, when it’s expected completion date is and how much the project is budgeted for, begins the process. Ongoing progress meetings ensure it continues.