For many small businesses, making the shift from traditional, “in-person” methods of marketing to digital marketing can seem daunting. It is a common misconception that online marketing is reserved for young people, and that many small businesses – especially those that have been around for a long time – have nothing to gain from an moving their marketing efforts online. However, while it might be the case that not every business in the whole world can benefit from using social media and other forms of digital marketing, it can’t hurt to try. Here are four simple strategies you can implement at your business to help increase your customer base, spread awareness of your brand, and ultimately, to generate more revenue.
1. Build a community out of the customers that you already have.
One of the smartest tactics that any type of business can implement – be it a dry cleaners, a pet store, or a small restaurant – is by recognizing the clientele you already have. Once you create several social media accounts for your business on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp!, Flickr, and more, start by telling your most loyal customers to visit you on these accounts. Then, you can interact with these customers and even feature them on these websites – maybe try a “Customer of the Month” campaign or something similar. Showing future customers that you have actual relationships with your customers is a great way to add a personal touch to your business and build a positive social reputation.
2. Start a blog.
Heard a lot about blogging but don’t know what it is and how your business can use it? It’s simple – blogs are essentially journals that your business can keep on the internet and share with the public. Why is this useful? Blogs allow you to keep your customers updated on the latest developments at your business and offer promotions and giveaways. Blogs are especially useful for businesses who have put money into building a website but don’t want to spend the extra money to constantly have it updated; usually, blog platforms are very user-friendly and are designed for people who don’t know how to actually build or edit a website. Ask your web designer to set up a blog for you and show you how to post in it, or simply create an account on popular blogging platforms like wordpress.com, tumblr.com, or blogger.com.
3. Get a handle on Twitter.
Many business owners who have been around for a long time hear the word “Twitter” and immediately refuse to have anything to do with the site. Because Twitter is so new and the majority of its users are young, in the eyes of many, Twitter has developed a reputation for being a site that is “made for kids.” However, as more and more business owners are discovering, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Twitter has generated huge profits for businesses who learn a little bit about how the site works and find a Twitter marketing strategy that works for them. One word of advice when it comes to Twitter marketing is to avoid using the site to sell your product directly; instead, approach it as a forum in which to engage and interact with your followers. Treat them as you would in person if they were customers who walked into your store.
4. Tell your customers to review you online.
Online review sites, such as Yelp!, MenuPages, and Google Places are becoming increasingly popular. Many new customers are using these sites to find out about many types of businesses in their neighborhood. Your business might already be featured on these sites even without you knowing it! This is why it is important to encourage your already loyal customers to go home and write a review about you. There are no rules against diluting online review sites with reviews from customers who actually like your business, just as long as actual, unique users are the ones writing the reviews.