10 ways to boost your marketing efforts today

This week I wanted to keep things nice and simple.
Marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes the simple solutions are the best solutions. So here it is. My top 10 ways you can enhance your business’s marketing.
1.     Have a goal and plan that contributes to your business’s vision – any marketing activities need to directly relate back to your business’s strategic vision, goals and priorities. What are you trying to achieve as a business? How to you envisage your company in the future? Will your marketing goals achieve this?
Create a marketing strategy that supports your business plan and strategic objectives. Your can refer to our previous post to develop your own DIY marketing strategy that maps back to business goals. 
2.     Know your target market and point of difference inside out – get to know your target market and its segments. Think about them as actual people not just demographical facts and figures. Create customer personas or profiles of your most sought after and profitable customers and speak directly to them in your marketing activities.
Know what your point of difference is; know your brand story and make sure it resonates with your target market. Have you analysed your competitors and know what you offer that they don’t? If you haven’t articulated your point of difference or brand story yet, you can do it now with these tips. And once you know your point of difference make sure it forms the foundation of all of your marketing and communication messages.
3.     Be online and social – modern day businesses can’t afford not to have an online and social presence. If a potential customer can’t find you online and/or via social media, they may be hesitant in doing business with you at best and suspicious of your credentials at worst. Websites don’t have to be terribly sophisticated or expensive.
Here are my tips on creating free/low cost websites.  You also want to be easily found via search engines like Google, so refer here for some simple search engine optimisation tips.
When it comes to social media, you should only aim to have a presence on the platforms most relevant to your target markets and on as many sites that you can reasonably stay active on. There is no point in having a social media presence if you aren’t active and don’t engage with your audience. Find out here what social media to use.
Approach social media as if you are a publisher of information valuable to your target market. Avoid pushy sales talk as much as possible. Here are some tips on writing great social media content. Be prepared to some extent to give away your secret sauce.
You can maximise your online and social media presence by creating a blog and listing your business on reputable online business directories such as TrueLocal, that allow for user reviews.   
Sending an e-newsletter to your key contacts is also a great idea. If you have a blog you can use the most popular content for your newsletter. You can create templates and send e-newsletters for free (on basic packages) using services like mailchimp. Just make sure people have agreed to receive information from you and you include an unsubscribe option. You will need to comply with relevant spam and privacy laws.
4.     Make the most out of your advertising – let’s face it, advertising dollars can come few and far between. If you are planning on placing advertisements with any media, online or traditional, make sure your money works for you. Include a clear call to action or an offer in your ads.
Before you commit to advertising dollars, ask the publication for as much information as possible about their audience. Who reads/listens/watches what? What are their demographics? What pages/features/editions are they most engaged in? Get as much information as possible to make sure the ad will reach your target audience. If they can’t give you information on their audience, consider spending your money elsewhere.
Bigger is not always better, it is more important that your ad is targeted to your audience. You can purchase low-cost ads on Facebook and you will get immediate feedback on whether people are engaging or not. You can also test different types of ads to see which has a better response.
If your ad produces little results, reassess and consider another approach. Also make sure the language in your ads is active and uses strong action words such as ‘get’, ‘call’. Here are some further tips on writing for business.
5.     Make it personal and share the love – add a personal touch when dealing with your customers and reward good clients, especially those who refer others to you.
I order clothes from an online business that always includes a personal handwritten thank you note in their package. It always puts a smile on my face.
I also use a tradesman who once he has completed a job for us, he always puts a personalised and handwritten thank you card in our mailbox. He also often follows up with a phone call to check whether everything was satisfactory with his work, and he uses it as an opportunity to upsell an additional service if needed, without being pushy. Smart guy!
Consider sending good clients exclusive offers or discounts to say thank you. Offer loyalty programs. Send them a Happy Holidays card. Put an ad on a postcard and write a personal note before sending it.
Offer and publicise incentives for referrals. Put them in a draw for a prize, or offer a giveaway.
6.     Join forces – look for opportunities to cross-promote with other businesses by offering discounts/deals for each other’s clients. Choose likeminded businesses, those located near to your business or complementary businesses, eg. hairdresser and a make-up artist, butcher and a fruit and vegetable shop, an accountant and a solicitor. You can put business cards or flyers in each other’s shops.
Even if you don’t have a shopfront you can develop mutually beneficial relationships with other businesses and share each others details, promotional material and perhaps promote links to each other’s websites.
Also join forces with other staff in your organisation. Eg. if you are publicising something on your business Facebook page, ask staff if they will also put it on their personal Facebook pages and share with all of their contacts.
7.     Make friends with the media and other influencers – develop and maintain an up-to-date media list specific to your business and industry. Think to yourself, what publications would I most like to be featured in?
Consider local newspapers/radio/TV, online media, metropolitan media, mainstream magazines, trade and industry magazines. Read/watch/listen to these programs and identify key journalists.
Then research popular bloggers, online forums and influencers relevant to your field. Subscribe and participate in online discussions where you can add something of value without a blatant sales plug.
Reach out to key journalists and bloggers, when you have something newsworthy to say. It isn’t hard to develop a relationship with journalists and bloggers, as long as you have something newsworthy/of interest to their audience to offer them. Just don’t hassle them, stalk them or waste their time and don’t call them when they are on deadline. Often an email is the best form of communication.
Even better, offer them a well written media release and they will really appreciate it.
Not sure what’s newsworthy? Check out this list of news story prompts. Not sure how to write a media release? Here are my tips and a template.
If you do have a media release, make sure you put it in your website and put a link to it on all of your social media. Consider sending the link out to key contacts. These days media releases are not just for media, you would be surprised who may come across your media release and want to publish it for you on their blog or publication, or are just interested in what you are saying in the news.
Also don’t overlook the opportunity to become a commentator in your industry. Often there is a current issue or topic that you could add value to. You can contact journalists and bloggers and offer comments about a current issue. They are always after a different point of view or industry expert they can call on, and will often call you first once you have established yourself as an expert in your field.
For example, let’s say there are changes in the training sector and you run a registered training organisation. You could write up a few comments with links to the relevant changes and email journalists/bloggers who you think may be interested in it.
8.     Don’t be scared to ask – ask your customers, staff (especially frontline staff) and stakeholders for feedback and suggestions, all of the time
Ask them for marketing ideas. You might be surprised where good ideas can come from. I have got some of the best ideas talking to friends over a coffee. You can do this informally or formally using surveys such as Survey Monkey.
9.     Monitor and evaluate – constantly – it is critical you monitor and measure you marketing activities against your original goal(s). Track your progress. Stop doing things if they aren’t working. Try new things. Here are some simple tips for monitoring and evaluation.
10.  Reach out for the right professional help when you need it – certainly many businesses do all of their own marketing, whether they have internal expertise or not. Often this is driven by budgetary limits, which is understandable.
There are definitely areas of marketing suited to DIY, but sometimes it is worth engaging a professional. It’s not just about capability, it is also about the time marketing activities can take. Sometimes you can’t do it all yourself, or do as much as you would like to do yourself.
Marketing is a recognised profession. A good marketing professional will have a relevant university degree and/or vast experience specifically in marketing.
If you are considering hiring a professional, make sure you engage the right one. Ask people for referrals. Check their credentials. Meet with them and determine if you can work with them and be clear about your expectations.

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