Successful marketing strategies for local businesses.
When you consult businesses on their marketing strategy for extended period of time you get to see the results of your labor. Some marketing campaigns and strategies prove to be successful over time, some need course adjustment or a different approach, and some can be thrown out of the window. Mastery comes with experience and time. In this blog, we are sharing LESSONS or marketing strategies that we actually learned FROM the successful business owners themselves. They are simple but successful strategies that helped local businesses achieve continuous results and have stood the test of time. Let them serve as mini case-studies for small business owners everywhere. Important disclosure– these are not magic pills or a one-time quick-fix ad campaign but rather a methodology implemented over time. We hope that you take note of these cornerstones of small business marketing.
1. INVEST IN QUALITY BUSINESS CARDS
Who it is for: brick-and-mortar local businesses, retail, restaurant, creative professionals
Learned from: Business Owner with 3 successful retail stores
Meaningless as it might seem or ‘a thing of the past’ as some might think, creative business owners and professionals alike want to stand out and put a lot of thought and money into the design of their business card. Whether you are a brick-and-mortar or a creative service professional, your brand starts with your business card. One successful retail client with 3 businesses always puts the time, effort and money into designing a very unique quality piece for each business. In her own words: “It wows, it stands out and it’s memorable. It’s a conversation piece. When you spend a few minutes chatting about my business because of my business card – they remember me and recognize my brand.” You only have one chance for first impression.
2. IDENTIFY PROFESSIONAL REFERRAL DIRECTORIES THAT WILL SEND YOU BUSINESS
Who it is for: every local business
Learned from: Specialty Hair Salon
Every business should have business directories created on search engines and it’s especially important for brick-and-mortar local businesses to show correct addresses and photos to assure easy directions on maps. However, this business owner also placed herself on a Professional Referral Site for the product she was using in her salon. That high-traffic Product Web Site had a directory of professionals working with their products and sent a ton of referral traffic and bookings to her as she was listed on their site. Many directories will increase your visibility but identify the referral professional sites (or referral source)- that will send you business. She booked 50% of her business from that site alone.
Another example of such directory for professional service businesses is Thumbtack. When request matches your profile and services, you get leads coming straight to you. Use it as a lead generation marketing tool.
3. WORK YOUR EMAIL LIST RELIGIOUSLY
Who it is for: local retail businesses, restaurants, businesses that depend on repeat transactions
Learned from: upscale antique furniture store.
Yes, all marketing gurus, courses, lectures stress the importance of keeping the database of your customers. But when you depend on repeat business and on your regular customers who previously bought from you before – it’s no brainer that you need to take your email list seriously.
Email blasts done regularly deliver results. For this particular furniture store, every month we would send out a simple email showing photos and brief description of the new items in inventory. Like clockwork, the telephone would start ringing 30 seconds after the SEND button was pushed.
4. HOST EVENTS
Who it is for: local businesses
Learned from: upscale furniture store
Have customers? Invest in them – they will become your marketing ambassadors. Host Customer Appreciation parties regularly. Treat it as your Open Home – create stylish festive atmosphere, offer libations, music and fun “non-salesy” event, just a party. Yes, it’s an expense but it’s a marketing expense and investment in your marketing. You get FOOT TRAFFIC to the store, customers bring their friends – increased exposure for you, check out your inventory while socializing and having fun, and make purchases (sometimes big impulse purchases) on the spot. They check in, post their photos and rave about your event on social media – it’s a win-win.
5. A RULE OF “THREE”
Who it is for: Retail, Real Estate, Local Businesses
Learned from: Retail business owner
In order to host a successful well-attended Customer Appreciation Party mentioned above or another important Event or Open House for your business, you need to ensure good attendance. People are so BUSY – it’s hard to get them to commit to an event. Complimentary food and drinks definitely help but you also need to be consistent with your invitations. Invite verbally – and they will forget; print a flyer – and they will lose it. Remember the rule of 3 – that turned out to be the secret sauce for this successful retail business owner:
1. Invite them verbally at the store;
2. Keep nicely designed invitations handy in the store and give them out at the same time
3. Send out Email Invitation to your list.
Here comes the important part – still use the rule of 3 when sending out the invites by email – DO NOT BE SHY. Send an invite with the Subject line “You Are Invited!” with your first invitation. Send them a reminder a day BEFORE the event; and another reminder the day of the event! Your diligence will pay off in higher attendance numbers. Simple but works.