Promoting a small business; Marketing tips from inside the industry
Is your small business putting its best foot forward? Cross-reference your marketing efforts with three areas of marketing importance:
1. The marketing plan
First thing’s first, you need a plan. Physically writing down your marketing goals will largely increase your chances of following through. An initial marketing plan can be as basic as a simple budget, in joint with tailored business specifics. Ask yourself who your competitors are, who your current customers are and whom you’d like to acquire as customers.
Take a wide-angled look at your community. Really attempt to understand the market that affects your business. According to Dexter Laundry, 85 percent of a typical laundromat’s customers live and/or work within a 5-mile radius of their laundromat. Most customers will pass by your business 50 – 60 times per month simply by commuting to and from work, going to school or going to the supermarket. Consider your primary customers’ needs: are they being met? Could they be better met? How about more efficiently? Is there an opportunity for any innovations in the quality of the service they know, love and have come to expect from you? Can you make their lives better?
Three is a magic number when trying to grow your consumer base. According to Planet Laundry, you need to draw customers into your store three times to make their actions habitual.
Consider new areas of booming industry when targeting new customers. In a survey by American Laundry News, 73 percent of laundry business owners in the U.S. said they are targeting specific industries, such as health care, in their growth plan. Getting large contract work can be an incredibly stable way to expand your services in a controlled environment without any major surprises and a steady source of income.
Once you’ve thought long and hard about who your customers are, it’s time to make a budget. Even if yours is modest – there are a few very cost-effective tricks that can turn your business from any old shop into the place to be.
2. Logos and signage
According to Dexter, reinforced repetition of your brand is key. When your brand is the first to pop into a customer’s mind when they need a specific service, you have achieved “top-of-mind awareness.” Top-of-mind awareness is built upon reinforced repetition, and it’s critical to business growth and success.
Since your primary customer base will likely live or work near your business, eye-catching, emotion-sparking physical signage can be extremely persuasive to new customers, if executed correctly.
The face of a brand is its logo. It’s a great starting point for your marketing efforts and can serve as a template for many other marketing materials and promotions later. As an owner, you’ve put your own blood, sweat and tears into creating this successful business. Consider your personal values and try to channel them into feelings toward your business. Try to cross-reference these feelings, preferences and values with what you presume your customers will notice based on your research in step 1. Remember – if you can’t get excited about your brand, it will be difficult for others to become excited as well.
Display your logo, business name and slogan everywhere. Hang your sign high, slap your logo on your windows, paint it on your car, print it on business cards and hand them out. Your personal property is free ad space – don’t be afraid to get the word out.
3. Digital marketing
The digital revolution is at hand, and marketing online is a must. In a survey by American Laundry, the most popular method of online marketing for small laundry businesses is to have a website. Close to 50 percent of participants surveyed run their own private business’ site.
Going digital isn’t as difficult as it used to be. There are many website-creation services and hosts, many of which require no prior Web design and computer knowledge. WordPress provides a free platform complete with templates, and can be a good place to start if you’re on a budget. If you have a bit of money to spare, consider Wix or SquareSpace. Both are template based, and have apps and plugins designed specifically for small businesses.
Many more run email marketing campaigns. These can be a simple endeavor, but, if you’ve got the cash to pay for marketing analytics, they can be far more profitable too! About 30 percent of American Laundry’s survey participants use email marketing to reach their customers. This can be a great way to share coupons and news about your business’s promotions online.
Roughly 20 percent of survey respondents actively use social media to spread the word. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are popular channels of social media marketing, but must be managed attentively. Social media allows for two-way communication between the customer and the business. It is an opportunity to connect with customers personally and instantaneously, which can be a pitfall. Obviously no business owner can respond to every comment, tweet or post regarding his or her business, but simply responding to the occasional intriguing question or comment can have profound reverberations on word-of-mouth recommendations.
Check out EasternFunding.com for more useful tips on marketing your small business.