Many small businesses regard marketing as a dirty word. I’ve had several conversations with business people over the years who have declared (in a disgusted tone of voice), “We don’t do anything like that!”.
One barrier seems to be the idea that marketing is nothing more than advertising. Advertising is just one tool in your marketing kit and it can be expensive. But marketing a small business doesn’t have to break the bank. Of course you’re going to have to spend some time at it, but not all marketing costs money. Everything you say and do reflects on your business: from the way you answer the phone, to responding to queries and complaints. Address those areas and you’re well on the way to marketing your company.
One of the easiest and cheapest ways of marketing is to focus on communicating with your customers and prospects. Yet it’s something many businesses forget.
Imagine this … you’ve gone out for a meal and arrive at your chosen restaurant. You find a table and wait to be served … and you wait … and you wait. How long will it take before you to get up and walk out? I guess it depends on how patient you are, but most people will start to get peeved after about 15 minutes or so. That restaurant’s reputation has just been destroyed. You’ll tell people about your experience and warn them not to eat there. All your Facebook friends and Twitter followers will be delighted to spread the news about the poor service. And imagine what you could write on Trip Advisor!
But on the other hand, if someone had come and spoken to you, apologised and told you why there was a delay, you would sit there and wait patiently. If you were told there it was because the chef had just collapsed in the kitchen, you’d probably end up volunteering to drive him to hospital or offering to cook your own meal. Such is the power of communication!
There are loads of ways you can communicate with your customers and prospects, from sending electronic newsletters to simply picking up the phone and giving them a call. They don’t all have to cost you money! Even if you didn’t want to send Christmas cards, did you send a Happy Christmas email? If one of your customers has a big event coming up, perhaps moving house or a new baby, a congratulations card can do more to market your company than any expensive advertising.
So, don’t shy away from marketing. It doesn’t involve black magic or voodoo, just some simple common sense and a dash of creativity.
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