8 Benefits of Social Media for Small Business

  • 01 Jun 2016
  • Posted by Admin

People were skeptical of social media for business in the beginning, but with the explosion of social media over the last few years, you’d be hard pressed to find a marketing expert who doesn’t recommend social media as part of a holistic marketing strategy.That said, you may be wondering, what are the real benefits of social media for small business, and is it really worth the time and effort to build a social media presence if you’re just running a small operation rather than a big corporation?

smShort answer: There are plenty of benefits for small businesses in social media.Start taking advantage of them with these eight simple, proven advantages of social media marketing for companies of any size:

1. Social media can reduce your overall marketing costs
Social networks are a cost-effective way to get your brand in front of fans and prospective customers. It doesn’t cost you anything to tweet a message, pin a product photo to Pinterest, or promote a discount on

Facebook, so there’s no cost outside of your own time spent.
If you do have money to invest, these channels offer advanced but affordable advertising platforms that you can use to target consumers with demographic, keyword, and interest-based campaigns.

The highly specific targeting parameters offered by Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can help you get the biggest bang for your marketing buck.

2. Social media can impact your organic search results
When it comes to impacting your website’s position in search engines, you need to create optimized and compelling content if you want your domain to appear high up on the search results page.

By sharing this content on social media as well, you can get in front of interested readers who may visit your website, like or share your content on their own social networks, and link to it from their own domains. Google and Bing both pay attention to social signals like this when they decide how to rank links on the search results page.

3. You can offer better customer service with social media
If you’re looking for a way to field customer comments, concerns, and questions, then you are going to find social media to be extremely beneficial.

Customers using one of the common platforms like Facebook or Twitter can communicate directly with you, and you can quickly answer them in a public format that lets other customers see the quality of your customer service.

The impact of this activity can be huge: 71 percent of consumers who receive a quick brand response on social media say they are more likely to recommend that brand to other people.

4. You can design your own online personality
Social media is meant to be more like a cocktail party than a business meeting. You will always do a lot better in a social situation if you are more like yourself and less like a corporate robot.

Social media is a great way to display your business’ personality, as well as behind-the-scenes information about you, your employees, your workspace, and more. When you humanize your brand in this way, it makes it easier for consumers to connect with you and develop loyalty.

5. Social media lets you associate with other businesses
The fact that you are able to connect directly to the consumer means you can use this platform to also connect to other entrepreneurs and business owners.

From possible strategic business partners to new distributors, social media lets you have real conversations with actual people who might otherwise be socially or geographically inaccessible in the real world.

6. Customers can validate your business on social media
The idea behind allowing customers to correspond directly with you is so that they can get the best customer service possible. When this occurs, it happens in a very public forum that can be seen by other prospects.

So when customers sing your praises to their friends, it not only boosts your online reputation, but increases the chances that someone else is going to give you a shot next time they need your services.

7. You can provide value with social media
The idea that you can provide a truly valuable service to your target market means you are positioning yourself as an expert in your industry. Whether that’s educational and entertaining blogs, posts, or tweets, if you are solving a problem or providing information, you’re adding value that customers will appreciate.

8. Social media lets you gain the competitive advantage
The true advantages of social media are the ability to get a leg-up on your competition by connecting with your current and prospective customers in an organic way across the web.

If used correctly, social media can help you boost your search rankings, provide better customer service, craft a compelling online personality, connect with new business partners, build connections, and earn word-of-mouth marketing from your brand advocates.

If you aren’t using social today, we recommend you start posting and start reaping the benefits of social media.

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Re-brand Your Business, Step By Step

  • 06 Jan 2016
  • Posted by Amarasco

Is it time to re-brand your business?

rebrandingDifferent from simply freshening up your marketing materials, re-branding means changing the entire "personality" of your business. Your company might be ready for re-branding if:

• You've expanded your geographic territory, or your product/service lines
• Your existing brand is badly outdated
• You've acquired or merged with another business
• You've purchased the business and want to show that it's under new ownership
• Your current brand is failing to attract awareness in the marketplace or to distinguish itself from competitors

Now that you've decided you are ready to re-brand, how do you do it?

Start by going back to basics and answering some key questions about yourself, your

company, your products/services and your customers.

• Why did you start your business?
• How would you describe your business in an "elevator pitch"?
• Are there any elements of your current brand you want to keep?
• What makes your products or services unique in the marketplace?
• Is your product or service high-end, low-and or somewhere in between?
• What is your target market?
• What do your customers like and dislike about your business?
• What do customers get from your business that they can't get from your competition?

Next, it's time to look at your competition so you can define your brand against theirs.

Create a list of your competitors and ask yourself about each one, “What differentiates my company from theirs?” Once you've gone over all of your competitors, you'll have a better idea of what unique qualities your business possesses — what you offer that customers can't find anywhere else.

As you answer all of these questions (take notes!), some common themes will emerge. Jot down words and concepts that come to mind. Think about:
• Emotion. What feelings do customers get from your business? Joy, security, excitement, pride, relief?
• Purpose. What function does your business serve for customers? Providing advice, saving them money, creating adventure, protecting their homes?
• Self-expression: What are customers saying to the world when they buy your product or service? “I’m sexy.” “I’m fun.” “I’m intelligent.” “I’m affluent.”

Finally, boil all this information down into a single sentence that will be your brand positioning statement.

This statement should sum up what your product or service is/does, your target market, and the primary benefit that your customers get from your product/service. Here are some examples:

Maria’s Kitchen is an authentic Mexican catering service whose family recipes and friendly employees enable customers to have fun at their own parties—affordably.

Simple Web Solutions is the web design and hosting service that helps small business owners and sole proprietors create and run professional websites stress-free.

Once you’ve created your new brand positioning statement:

• Work with a graphic designer to refashion the visual elements of your brand, such as your logo, signage, fonts and website design. Depending on how dramatic your re-branding was, this may be a complete overhaul or just a slight tweak that keeps basic colors and symbols intact.
• Update your marketing materials as necessary to reflect your re-branding. This may require rewriting to express the appropriate tone and personality for your new brand.
• Be consistent in using the new brand identity throughout your business, including your marketing materials, location, business website and social media accounts.

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Six Mobile Marketing Tips For Small Businesses...

  • 07 Jan 2015
  • Posted by Amarasco

By: Karen E. Klein

Mobile phones are essential to shopping these days, and a majority of cell phone owners say they’re willing to share personal data with merchants in exchange for such things as coupons and discounts.

But navigating mobile marketing can be confusing for small business owners, who must avoid bombarding people with unwanted texts while they’re slogging through crowds of holiday shoppers. So how can local merchants use mobile marketing effectively? Here are six tips.

Focus on customers. Consider how consumers already interact with their mobile devices and take advantage of that behavior. Eliminate anything that makes buying more difficult, such as a website that doesn’t load correctly on a mobile device or hard-to-find contact information. Optimize your customers’ mobile Web experiences by adding “click to call” and “click for directions” features, suggests Jeff Fagel, chief marketing officer at G/O Digital. Make sure all your marketing messages look great on the small screens where people are increasingly opening them, says Jessica Stephens, chief marketing officer at marketing technology company SmartFocus. She says 30 percent of mobile shoppers abandon transactions that aren’t optimized for mobile and 57 percent abandon sites that take more than three seconds to load.

Don’t get too pushy. Most Internet shopping activity involves consumers actively searching out information on services or products. But mobile marketing is what’s called “push” technology, which involves sending unsolicited messages to would-be customers. “It’s all done with the idea of engaging customers and getting them to spread your offers on social media,” says Betsy Page Sigman, who teaches operations and information management at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. “If people buy something every time you send a discount, keep sending them. But pay attention to when they stop, because that data tells you a lot, too.”

Respect privacy. The discovery of a series of ad beacons used to track phones in New York City recently caused a ruckus over privacy concerns. You won’t catch people by surprise if you direct your marketing messages to customers who have agreed to receive texted discounts or coupons or who have downloaded an app such as Shopkick. The application, and others like it, allows merchants to send messages to users’ devices when their location service is turned on, showing they are nearby.

Give something away. Most people don’t mind that their supermarket tracks their purchases—as long as they get discounts when they swipe their reward cards. The same idea applies to mobile marketing: You need to sweeten the deal, not just text annoying ads. Send customers special offers, reminders about sales, and discount coupons. Imagine the response to a “free coffee with purchase” offer you send to shoppers a block away from your bakery at 4 p.m., for instance.

Integrate. Mobile marketing should be part of your overall marketing plan, along with e-mail, direct mail, and other advertising, says John McGee, chief executive of OptifiNow, a Los Angeles sales and marketing company. “Track the results you get from each channel and see which one is working. There’s no silver bullet—you need to do a little bit of everything. And remember, it doesn’t matter what you want to do—it’s what your customers like,” he says.

Be concise. Unlike e-mail, text messages have a high open rate. But you have to get your point across in few words, which is easier to do the better you know your customers. “Text messages work better for local marketing, which lends itself to small business,” McGee says. “If a local restaurant is having a slow night and sends text to people nearby to get them in for a special, that’s more effective than a retail chain sending out messages to people 20 miles down the freeway.”



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Want to Be a Successful Business? Focus on Your Customers

  • 25 Nov 2014
  • Posted by Amarasco

By: Chad Brooks, BusinessNewsDaily Senior Writer

The difference between successful businesses and underperforming ones often lies in the way they treat their customers, new research finds.

In fact, companies that fail to focus their cultures, strategies and employees on pleasing customers are encouraging failure, according to a study from the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and the American Management Association (AMA).

The best-performing organizations — as defined by their revenue growth, profitability, market share and customer satisfaction — understand that being customer-focused requires a blend of attraction, engagement, satisfaction, collaboration and retention, the study's authors said.

Overall, 40 percent of the business leaders and professionals surveyed admitted their organization doesn't know their customers well, with just 52 percent saying their companies are more customer-focused than their competitors are.

Jeremey Donovan, chief marketing officer for AMA, said that even though just about all businesses know that customer focus matters, they have to take that knowledge one step further. "High-performing organizations turn that knowledge into actionable business practices," Donovan said in a statement.

A big problem is that many organizations fail to live up to the guarantees they make to their customers, the study revealed. Nearly 35 percent of those surveyed said their organization doesn't keep the promises they make to customers.

"Failed promises can be as simple as poor service or unresponsiveness and may extend to more complex issues, such as inconsistent quality," Donovan said.

In addition to not living up to the promises of its customers, an even smaller percentage of companies — 40 percent — are keeping the promises they make to their workers.

"Organizations that fail to deliver for their employees are inviting comparable failure on delivering on promises made to customers," said Kevin Martin, chief research and marketing officer for i4cp. "The two are interdependent and cannot be viewed in isolation."

Researchers found that in order to become more customer-focused, there has to be a commitment from the people at the top of the organization. The study discovered that executives at high-performance organizations are three times more likely as executives at lower-performing companies to support the successful execution of customer-focused strategies.

Additionally, these organizations are four times more likely than lower performers to set clear customer satisfaction goals. High performers are also five times more likely to align internal systems and processes with customer needs, the study found.

The study shows that another way top organizations are focusing on their customers is by hiring employees with that goal in mind. High-performing organizations are three times more likely than lower-performing organizations to make new hires based on customer focus, the study found. In addition, the best companies are three-and-half times more likely to base promotion decisions, in part, on how employees perform at customer-oriented activities.

"Providing customer-focused training and development to employees will create brand value and drive incremental revenue," Donovan said.

Top organizations also do a better job of taking what their customers say to heart. The study found that top-performing companies take advantage of customer feedback nearly twice as much as lower-performing businesses do. Additionally, high-performance organizations are twice as likely as lower performers to collaborate with customers on custom products, the research found.

The study was based on surveys of 1,333 business leaders and professionals worldwide, as well as secondary research and interviews.



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Ideas For Growing Your Business...

  • 16 Sep 2014
  • Posted by Admin

For those of you who have already successfully started a business and are ready to take the next step, you may be wondering what you can do to help your business grow. There are many ways to do this, 10 of which are outlined below. Choosing the proper one (or ones) for your business will depend on the type of business you own, your available resources, and how much money, time and resources you're willing to invest all over again. If you're ready to grow, take a look at these tips.

1. Open another location. This is often the first way business owners approach growth. If you feel confident that your current business location is under control, consider expanding by opening a new location.

2. Offer your business as a franchise or business opportunity. Franchising your business will allow for growth without requiring you to manage the new location. This will help to maximize the time you spend improving your business in other ways, too.

3. License your product. This can be an effective, low-cost growth medium, particularly if you have a service product or branded product. Licensing also minimizes your risk and is low cost in comparison to the price of starting your own company to produce and sell your brand or product. To find a licensing partner, start by researching companies that provide products or services similar to yours.

4. Form an alliance. Aligning yourself with a similar type of business can be a powerful way to expand quickly.

5. Diversify. Diversifying is an excellent strategy for growth, because it allows you to have multiple streams of income that can often fill seasonal voids and, of course, increase sales and profit margins. Here are a few of the most common ways to diversify:

o Sell complementary products or services

o Teach adult education or other types of classes

o Import or export yours or others' products

o Become a paid speaker or columnist

6. Target other markets. Your current market is serving you well. Are there others? Probably. Use your imagination to determine what other markets could use your product.

7. Win a government contract. One of the best ways to grow your business is to win business from the government. Work with your local SBA and Small Business Development Center to help you determine the types of contracts available to you.

8. Merge with or acquire another business. Two is always bigger than one. Investigate companies that are similar to yours, or that have offerings that are complementary to yours, and consider the benefits of combining forces or acquiring the company.

9. Expand globally. To do this, you'll need a foreign distributor who can carry your product and resell it in their domestic markets. You can locate foreign distributors by scouring your city or state for a foreign company with a U.S. representative.

10. Expand to the Internet. Very often, customers discover a business through an online search engine. Be sure that your business has an online presence in order to maximize your exposure.

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Marketing 101...

  • 19 Aug 2014
  • Posted by Admin

In order to successfully grow your business, you’ll need to attract and then work to retain a large base of satisfied customers. Marketing emphasizes the value of the customer to the business, and has two guiding principles:

1. All company policies and activities should be directed toward satisfying customer needs.

2 Profitable sales volume is more important than maximum sales volume.

To best use these principles, a small business should:

• Determine the needs of their customers through market research

• Analyze their competitive advantages to develop a market strategy

• Select specific markets to serve by target marketing

• Determine how to satisfy customer needs by identifying a market mix

Marketing programs, though widely varied, are all aimed at convincing people to try out or keep using particular products or services. Business owners should carefully plan their marketing strategies and performance to keep their market presence strong.

Conducting Market Research

Successful marketing requires timely and relevant market information. An inexpensive research program, based on questionnaires given to current or prospective customers, can often uncover dissatisfaction or possible new products or services.

Market research will also identify trends that affect sales and profitability. Population shifts, legal developments, and the local economic situation should be monitored to quickly identify problems and opportunities. It is also important to keep up with competitors' market strategies.

Creating a Marketing Strategy

A marketing strategy identifies customer groups which a particular business can better serve than its target competitors, and tailors product offerings, prices, distribution, promotional efforts and services toward those segments. Ideally, the strategy should address unmet customer needs that offer adequate potential profitability. A good strategy helps a business focus on the target markets it can serve best.

Target Marketing

Most small businesses don’t have unlimited resources to devote to marketing; however, the SBA wants you to know that you can still see excellent returns while sticking to your budget if you focus on target marketing. By concentrating your efforts on one or a few key market segments, you’ll reap the most from small investments. There are two methods used to segment a market:

1. Geographical segmentation: Specializing in serving the needs of customers in a particular geographical area.

2. Customer segmentation: Identifying those people most likely to buy the product or service and targeting those groups.

Managing the Market Mix

Every marketing program contains four key components:

• Products and Services: Product strategies include concentrating on a narrow product line, developing a highly specialized product or service or providing a product-service package containing unusually high-quality service.

• Promotion: Promotion strategies focus on advertising and direct customer interaction. Good salesmanship is essential for small businesses because of their limited advertising budgets. Online marketing is a cheap, quick, and easy way to ensure that your business and product receive high visibility.

• Price: When it comes to maximizing total revenue, the right price is crucial.  Generally, higher prices mean lower volume and vice-versa; however, small businesses can often command higher prices because of their personalized service.

• Distribution: The manufacturer and wholesaler must decide how to distribute their products. Working through established distributors or manufacturers' agents is generally easiest for small manufacturers. Small retailers should consider cost and traffic flow in site selection, especially since advertising and rent can be reciprocal: a low-cost, low-traffic location means spending more on advertising to build traffic.

The aforementioned steps combine to form a holistic marketing program.

The nature of the product or service is also important in citing decisions. If purchases are based largely on impulse, then high-traffic and visibility are critical. On the other hand, location is less of a concern for products or services that customers are willing to go out of their way to find. The Internet makes it easy for people to obtain goods from anywhere in the world, so if you’re worried about reaching a certain market, selling your product online may do wonders for your business.

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Understand Your Market...

  • 29 Jul 2014
  • Posted by Admin

To run a successful business, you need to learn about your customers, your competitors and your industry. Market research is the process of analyzing data to help you understand which products and services are in demand, and how to be competitive. Market research can also provide valuable insight to help you:

• Reduce business risks

• Spot current and upcoming problems in your industry

• Identify sales opportunities

How to Conduct Market Research
Before you start your business, understand the basics of market research by following these steps:

1. Identify Official Government Sources of Market and Industry Data
The government offers a wealth of data and information about businesses, industries and economic conditions that can aid in conducting market research. These sources provide valuable information about your customers and competitors:

• Economic Indicators

• Employment Statistics

• Income and Earnings

2. Identify Additional Sources of Analysis
Trade groups, business magazines, academic institutions and other third parties gather and analyze research data about business trends. Use Internet and database searches to find information related to your location and industry.

3. Understand the International Marketplace
Today’s economy is a globalized marketplace, so it’s important to understand the international factors that influence your business. These resources will help you to research potential international markets for your products or services:

• Market Research Guide for Exporters:
Identifies resources for business owners seeking to sell their products abroad.

• Country Market Research:
Reports on trade issues in countries across the globe.

• BuyUSA.gov:
Helps U.S. companies find new international business partners.

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Customer Engagement: 3 Essential Tips for Small Businesses ...

  • 15 Jul 2014
  • Posted by Admin

By: Nicole Fallon, Business News Daily Assistant Editor

If you want customers to interact with your brand online, your Web presence needs to be engaging.

As a small business, your website is often the first place consumers will go to find you. Your site is your chance to make a good first impression on potential leads and bring back existing customers. If you want to accomplish this, it's important to make sure your website keeps its visitors interested and engaged.

Most brands are aware of the need to create an engaging Web presence, but smaller ones typically don't think they have the time or resources to constantly update their website with fresh, new content, or even create a website at all.

"A trend among smaller businesses is to create just a Facebook page with no website," said Sarah Bordson, engagement manager at Web development firm Adage Technologies. "This is a great place to start, but to gain [customer] trust, having a website is important. It shows you're an established company."

Bordson noted that a company's website can be its No. 1 driver of business. With the right tools and strategies, building a great website doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming. Bordson offered the following tips to help small business owners optimize their Web presence for maximum customer engagement.

Make your website experience match your customer-service experience. In today's increasingly mobile and Web-centric world, consumers have come to expect the same type of experience with a brand online as they would in-store. Bordson recommended enabling features on your website that allow visitors to complete as many interactions as possible for a seamless customer-service experience. These features can include detailed descriptions of each of your products and services, easy-to-access contact and purchase information, and a way for customers to reach you quickly, such as a live-chat function or links to your social media pages.

Personalize your website in ways that make sense for your business. Another way to enhance customers' experience on your website is to tailor it to their needs. But Bordson warned against using flashy gimmicks: Only use personalization tactics that make sense for you, she said. Big Data analytics and voluntary surveys can help you send customized offers based on consumers' past shopping habits and preferred contact methods, which can help with sales conversions.

Use social media as a communication tool. The role of social media for businesses has evolved considerably in recent years. In addition to being a way to share and promote content on your website, social media can and should be used as an extension of your customer service, Bordson said.

"Your website should be the focal point for [your brand's] information," Bordson told Business News Daily. "If you can get beyond that, social media should be a way to reach out to clients in a cost-effective way."

By using Facebook, Twitter and other sites as a line of communication between your brand and your customers, you can drive them to your website in unique ways, such as by sharing a blog post that will help answer a customer's question.

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Why Social Media May Be Your Best Sales Lead Generator...

  • 17 Jun 2014
  • Posted by Admin

By Nicole Fallon, Business News Daily Assistant Editor

Five years ago, the primary function of social media for businesses was community building. Today, the role of a company's presence on popular social networks has evolved to include customer service, building brand awareness, and perhaps most importantly, lead generation.

"Social media has been the great equalizer in terms of lead generation for small-business owners," said Bill Peppler, managing partner of staffing firm Kavaliro. "No longer must you be reliant on a sophisticated CRM system with thousands of contacts. You can find what you want for free through sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn."

Twitter is an especially powerful lead-generation tool, said Bernard Perrine, CEO and co-founder of small-business marketing technology firm HipLogiq. If a business owner listens for relevant conversations, he or she can engage in them and entice potential consumers.

"Twitter is unique because as a public forum it allows for intent-based marketing," Perrine told Business News Daily. "[It provides] opportunities for small businesses to join in on relevant conversations in real time, and in a personal, direct way through @Replies and popular hashtags. With the right listening tools, small businesses can easily find conversations about their product or service happening right in their neighborhood."

For example, if a local coffee shop searches for keywords like caffeine or hashtags like #needcoffee, tools such as LeadSift and HipLogiq's SocialCentiv can find tweets within the shop's vicinity and flag them, giving the shop owner an opportunity to reply directly with a special offer to get the consumer in the door. And because these tools find the consumer right when he or she is looking for the product or service — in this case a cup of coffee — chances are high that the consumer will visit the shop.

The "favorite" button, Twitter lists, trending conversations and promoted tweets are other effective ways to generate leads on Twitter, Perrine said.

Another lead-generation tactic you can employ through social media is high-quality content marketing. A recent Business.com survey found that half of marketers want to start or already are generating leads through white paper downloads, and 40 percent are looking to invest in webinars featuring their products and services. Because many potential customers research a company before they make a purchase decision, a great piece of content discovered through the company website or social media accounts can be the determining factor in their final choice.

"Buyers are doing their own research before contacting companies," said Business.com's CEO Tony Uphoff. "Buyers expect that when they engage with a company's sales reps that it will complement the experience they've had in researching products and services online. This is why content marketing has become so valuable, both to buyers as a research tool and to advertisers as a core marketing tool."

No matter what social networks you use, it's important to remain engaged with your current and potential customers if you want to close the deal.

"Engagement is the key to sales, and social media channels give businesses a way to directly engage with [consumers]," Perrine said. "Each social network has its own type of audience and style, and businesses will find the most success if they tailor their strategy to the individual social network. With the right customized strategy, you can build communities and loyal fans who will share and retweet posts and help recruit new customers."

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Expanding small business marketing strategies: Cost-effective methods...

  • 20 May 2014
  • Posted by Admin

From Susan K. Bailey Advertising

A shotgun approach is useless when expanding into new markets, especially when you’re a small business with a limited budget.

“Map out an annual plan, estimate the cost, and then you’ll reap the rewards with a steady stream of new customers,” says Tracey Bourdon, a marketing coach at Susan K. Bailey Advertising in Foxboro, Ont.

Here are six low-cost marketing strategies to help get your new newly-added location humming.

Customize each time

Don’t assume that identical campaigns will succeed in all of your locations. “Your brand should be consistent, but your images and message need to reflect the demographics specific to each of your locations,” says Bourdon. “For example, if your new location has a high seniors population living nearby, you’re going not going to use images of the 25-year-olds who live close to your first location.”

And be sure to track each marketing thrust – using Google Analytics, landing page and phone number tracking, surveys, etc. – to determine if it was your direct mail campaign, radio ad, newspaper article, full-colour flyer, referral push or contest that drew customers to your door. Give it three months. No results? Tweak it or move on.

Unlock your inner expert

Smart business owners moving into a new community can grab attention by leading seminars, joining local organizations, such as the Rotary Club or one of Toronto Business Improvement Areas, writing newspaper articles, guesting on television and radio shows and being quoted in newspapers and magazine articles. This goal isn’t to immediately start generating sales, rather it’s to establish yourself as a trusted expert people will want to buy from in the future.

“Once you have credibility in the community, people will be more willing to listen to what you have to say and this will open up all kinds of opportunities,” says Bourdon.

Team up

Pool your marketing efforts with another company already established in your new location, suggests Susan Kates, a professor at Toronto’s Centennial College School of Business.

“For example, a landscape architect could collaborate with an established garden centre, or a special events company could team up with a local catering firm. They could share marketing costs, cross refer and give each other discounts to pass on to clients or to apply to their own bottom lines,” she says.

Medical professionals often take this approach – bundling physicians, a nutritionist, a chiropractor, physiotherapists and massage therapists under one banner and sharing the expense of one marketing plan — and it’s commonly a very successful one, adds Kates.

Don’t even bother

Any marketing that isn’t targeted to your ideal audience is a waste of time, says Jennifer Smith, a partner at Toronto marketing consultancy Sklar Wilton & Associates.

“If you’re opening a restaurant, for example, people who live more than a five-minute drive away are less likely to come.  So if you’re doing a postal drop or a welcome letter, don’t bother sending it outside this range.”

Bourdon, for her part, says it’s unwise to place all your eggs in one basket. Instead, she recommends using several simultaneous strategies.

”You need at least two different marketing pieces – like a direct mail campaign, a YouTube video or a public speaking talk – working for you every single day.”

Get noticed in the big city

Social networks – like LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – are an inexpensive way to get your business on the radar of a big city with lots of marketing chatter, says Smith.

“Toronto restaurants like The Burger’s Priest and Caplansky’s Deli have done a wonderful job creating buzz with social media,” says Smith. “When they open a new location or add a food truck, they can quickly get the message out to their thousands of followers via Facebook and Twitter.”

A new personal training studio could get lots of media attention by providing free fitness training for a local radio or television celebrity, says Bourdon.

“This media relationship could lead to on-air shout outs and a lot more attention than an expensive one-time print ad that people might just happen to see.”

Hire a pro, if you can afford it

While some small businesses do an excellent job of marketing on a variety of channels, it’s unwise for entrepreneurs to step out of their comfort zone, warns Smith. “For example, unless you’re a graphic designer don’t attempt your own visual branding or signage.”

Targeted email messages are an inexpensive – and seemly simple – tool that can sell, promote and create buzz all in one swoop, says Tricia Ryan, a Toronto marketing expert and author of Hungry to Succeed?. But not email campaigns are created equal, and business owners waste time and money when they aren’t aware of the tricks that get the messages delivered, opened and read.

“Most businesses don’t know that success rates soar when you break mailings into small batches of 50 or fewer, keep your subject line short and friendly, avoid common spam words, like Amazing, Congratulations and Free; include a deadline in your offer; and use a spam check service to test your message,” she says.

The best way to tap the tricks of the trade, say the marketing experts, is to hire a professional company. This helps entrepreneurs reach goals faster, leading to higher profits, for a fee.

“Using campaigns and strategies that have worked for other businesses saves time and money and lets you focus on what you do best,” says Bourdon. “I don’t offer to cook dinner for my clients who own restaurants.”

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