Marketing is one of the most intricate and ever changing parts of running a business, no matter the size. The difference is, marketing for a small business it costs money that you don’t always see retuned. In sales, you can track from start to finish how much money a single campaign brought in. You can see the cold call (or email) that led to the lead that led to the sale that was eventually closed. Marketing is very different, though there are some indicators that marketing is working the way you want it to, it’s far less visible.
So I always encourage small business owners and administrators to give their marketing teams time and freedom to do what needs to be done. The pulse for marketing is found, not in what you see but in who sees you. At Custom Equipment, the Marketing Director’s job is to make the company more visible in the community and sales regions so that more leads come in and more companies know (and remember) that we are here for them. If we are more visible, then you know your marketing is working.
What does Marketing for a Small Business look like?
CHAOS! Just kidding. If you have an inhouse Marketing person or team, it may look like chaos from the outside, but that’s normal. In this section you’ll realize some of the main parts of your marketing strategy that you thought were chaotic or even unnecessary. I promise you that they are extremely important for becoming more and more visible.
Step 1: Optimize your Website
Your Website is the ‘house’ for your business, and your customers are your guests. And guess what? You’re about to have visitors and you don’t want the house to be a mess. That being said, many of our websites are messy, hard to navigate and aren’t welcoming to those who visit. Your website should be a one-stop-shop for all of the information that your customers need to know. It should also contain information that they want to know. Let’s take a quick walk through on how to clean up your messy website.
Do you have Login Credentials?
Can you login to the ‘back end’ of your site? This is where you would go to edit your website as an ‘admin’. If you don’t have this, you need it. Not sure where to start? Contact the person or company who created your website. They should know what you need if you haven’t changed Content Management Systems (CMS). Many people use Programming Interfaces like WordPress for this system.
Start with the Overall Look and Layout
Look is easy to figure out. Have five friends, five coworkers and five customers look at the website and tell you what they think. Based on their responses, you should be able to determine if the ‘look’ is working. If they complain about the size of the font, how busy the pages are, the colors, pictures or how hard it is to navigate, then you know you have a problem. Compliments for any of those things are GREAT! Non-mentions probably means they are fine the way they are.
- You need to make sure the font size and color are easy to read, especially as it comes to the background.
- Be sure the pages aren’t too busy or hard to focus on. Too many words without being broken up by pictures and headings can be busy.
- Your colors should match or compliment your logo (which should be visible on your page for ‘branding’ purposes.
Layout is a little more difficult because it puts a lot of emphasis on vision and opinion. Vision should be set forth by the Ownership and Administration, but from that, even with that vision in mind, opinions differ. The Marketing team should start with a mark-up of what you have and what you think should be changed. That should then be taken to the Administration for review and to get their take on it.
Next Comes Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a common term used in Marketing and is instrumental for any small business. It’s easy as long as you know the algorithm or equation search engines use. If you have some extra time, I would HIGHLY recommend reading through and following up with this SITE. They are relevant and the information is remarkably helpful for new and veteran marketing people.
Start by selecting appropriate titles for your pages. If the page is meant to contain your company’s history and vision, don’t title it “Tomorrow’s Outlook” even if that’s the cool term you use in the office to describe your aspirations. No one outside of the company knows that. Call it “About Us” or “Company Vision”. These are narrow and specific and say what you mean.
The content on each page may also require some tweaking. Use these parameters for each page on your site (Not including Posts like Blogs and Case Studies)
- Each page should contain at least 300 words (Posts like Blogs should be between 1,200 and 1,800 words)
- Use 3-5 pictures – high quality and representative of your company
- Don’t use run on sentences. It’s easier to read if they are broken up
- Internal Links should be used to send visitors to other spots on your site
- Use external links to other relevant pages like your sales site, Youtube, Facebook, etc.
- Utilize your Key Phrase (for example “About Us”) a few times throughout the page
Use Blogs to Keep the Site Fresh for SEO
You are currently reading a blog. As you can see it is not specifically (and sometimes even remotely) about our company. It is used as informational data which I hope is useful to you our customer or possibly future customer. It is for industry leaders and those who may use our product on a corporate level. But it is also for people who may never use our product.
As far as SEO is concerned, however, they are used to keep our site fresh in the eyes of Search Engines. They want to see that you are involved. ‘Dead’ sites become quickly outdated and therefore get dropped from Search Engine lists. That is a very bad thing for Small Businesses. We need to be as seen as possible.
So here are some great tips!
- Have someone write a blog a week (of between 1,200 and 1,800 words with pictures and links)
- Be relevant to your customer. We sell to companies, so our blog’s emphasis is ‘company building’ in nature. But if you’re a retailer, you could blog about products, etc.
- Share them through Linked in and across local and national networks. The more people who click into it, the better
- Recycle Blogs in the future. Don’t be embarrassed to update an older blog and repurpose it
- If you have WordPress, use the optimizer on the page to guide you! It takes time but it will come
Step 2: Create an Updated Email List
If you are using Mailchimp or some other relevant e-blast site, GOOD! Follow the rules and regulations there. It is NOT conducive to good time management to go sending hundreds of emails that are cluttered with email addresses that were copy and pasted. You can save so much money (and it looks better) to just pay the pennies for Mail Chimp and use their system to work for you. It’s quick and easy.
Some rules for emails
- Short and Sweet is better… ALWAYS BETTER
- Don’t over encumber them with more than 2-3 emails a month
- Use Pictures
- Links should bring them back to your site page
- Promote your specials and your blogs
Step 3: Utilize Appropriate Social Media
The biggest failure companies have in marketing is thinking that Social Media is your saving grace. Don’t get me wrong, it CAN be your saving grace, but it’s not some miracle cure. You need to recognize if your customers are on social media. If they are, then perhaps you use that outlet to reach them. Like I said, Custom Equipment sells to other companies, so we don’t promote or push Facebook (which is more for businesses reaching individuals). We also sell Pallets and Material Handling Goods like equipment you would use in a warehouse. Nothing cute or pretty about that so we don’t utilize Instagram.
We do, however, use Linked-In as a viable option for finding corporate partners and company leads. This is where businesses hang out. We also create custom products so we use Youtube to promote those products as well.
Look for where your customers are, and go find them there.
I hope someone reading this has found some use of the information, and that you will be more knowledgeable because of it. Let us continue that growth in knowledge as we move forward to a Brighter Tomorrow.