Tight budgets, fewer buyers, tougher competition. These are some of challenges many businesses are facing in 2010. Here are a few tips to help your business get on the right track.
1. Network! Network! Network! Oh and one more thing: Network!
It may not come naturally–particularly for some of us introverts–but making connections will be crucial for 2010 and beyond. Marketing is moving more toward relationships so the more quality connections you can make, the better. If you can’t handle monitoring and promoting your brand online, you need to hire someone to do it.
2. Differentiate your brand: Figure out ways to distinguish yourself from your competitors and tell everyone about that distinction. Don’t just be a realtor, be a realtor that specializes in real estate owned (REO) properties in Jefferson County. Everyone knows a realtor but not everyone knows one that specializes in REO properties in Jefferson County. Determine your unique selling proposition if you don’t already have one and modify your marketing materials to reflect that.
3. Tracking: Improve your marketing campaigns through more effective tracking. Are you in a habit of placing ads in the same publications without knowing their effectiveness? Are you paying for online directories and are unsure if you are getting your money’s worth? If you are like a lot of companies with limited marketing dollars for 2010, you need to be sure you are tracking every marketing campaign. If you are doing print ads or direct mail, put a coupon in your ad that is exclusive to that campaign. For your website and online campaigns, if you don’t have any tracking mechanisms installed and aren’t acting upon the information in those stats, you’re either wasting money or leaving some (or a lot) of it on the table.
4. Get with the times! Make sure your website is in tune with the Web 2.0 world. Does your website still have the same content as the brochure you made two years ago? While we are sticklers for consistency of message, having a stagnant website is way out of style. You need to have a blog, Twitter feed, Facebook link or all of the above on your website to keep your site visitors interested and informed.
5. Leverage your existing customers and clients: Market to your current customer base! You’ve probably heard this many times before, but marketing to people who have already purchased your services is by far the easiest and cheapest way to retain existing customers and even get new ones. If you are not sending emails or online messages to former customers or not collecting email addresses from current ones, you are losing business. Let your customers know what you’re up to and send them some sort of perk once in awhile. Like a coupon or some free, valuable information.
6. Thought leadership: Become a reliable provider of information for your industry. If you have studied internet marketing at all, you’ve heard the phrase, “Content is King.” 2010 will be no different. As people continue to go online for news and information, your industry knowledge will become increasingly valuable. Separate yourself from competitors by offering insight into things where you have specific expertise. And, the higher quality content you produce, the more likely people will “retweet” your article or add it to their Facebook page or email it to colleagues. This will give you more exposure and help increase the value of your website in the eyes of Google and other search engines. Quality content will allow customers to find you rather than you searching for them.
7. Solicit and promote testimonials and reviews. Encourage customers to leave you testimonials or leave a positive review of your product/services on sites like Yelp, Insider Pages, and Yahoo Local. Ask for recommendations on sites like LinkedIn. Building trust is important and will help turn website visitors into customers.
8. Time management, people! Manage your time more effectively. Some of us have jobs where we have to answer every phone call and every email all the time but for the rest of us, you need to set aside time for no-interruption work. You can’t get work done if you are going to allow yourself to be constantly interrupted by Twitter, Facebook, email, and phone calls. Set short term goals and don’t tweet until they’re complete!