“Where do I find new customers?”. This is a pretty common question for many entrepreneurs. The short answer is “everywhere” but the long answer is more nuanced.
The first thing to understand is that your customers aren’t all hiding in some magic place secretly waiting for you to unlock the door with the password that only your competitors know. The great thing about this is that you aren’t alone – everyone is searching for this elusive channel. The bad news is that it doesn’t exist.
Building a business is a lot like the old saying, “you’ve got to crawl before you can walk”. You have to put in a little bit of groundwork in a lot of places, building it slowly over time. Here are ten basics to have in place for your small business marketing plan:
Make sure you have a mobile-friendly website; ensure that it is SEO-optimised; use meta descriptions properly; make sure your images are tagged correctly, that your load speed isn’t terrible and that your website actually gives all the information that a customer might need.
Have a professional email address – this is a simple one but having a Gmail account just isn’t as good as a branded email. It’s so easy to do if you have a website domain, because you own the domain email rights. Or you can set one up through the G-suite.
3. Google My Business Page
This is great for multiple things. It’s free and aids in accumulating Google reviews (aka social credibility). You can post business updates here, as well as host your address.
4. Social Media
Find one or two social media channels that work for your competitors or similar brands and have a crack at them. Draw up a posting schedule, stick to it and think about what will provide value for your clients.
5. Boost some posts
Unfortunately the digital landscape has become quite saturated. To stand out you have to do two things: create content that looks good and provides value; and put some media spend behind it.
If you have a physical store, make sure people can find it on Apple Maps; Google Maps; Bing, and whichever local digital GPS service people use.
7. Make Word of Mouth (WOM) Work
Do some PR: Participate in community events; send out some influencer drops; email relevant magazines for your industry and tell your story.
8. Print Ads
Run an advert in a local paper or magazine. Most local magazines have advertorial teams, and if the circulation is small, the ads aren’t usually that expensive. Even a half page ad in some magazines won’t cripple a small business. Often these places have good deals as well, especially if they are running an editorial piece on you. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Ad sales people love to haggle.
9. Paid Search
Run some paid search ads on Google Ads; Bing and other search platforms. Google has 98% of the search market, so if you are going to run search ads anywhere, this is the best place to start. You can use automation tools like Adbot to run them simply and effectively, as you can get setup in less than ten minutes.
10. List on local directories
Many local towns and cities have local directory services. South Africa has the physical Yellow Pages, and a new digital app business directories YEP (Telkom’s new digitised business directory). There are often directories for specific industries as well. Find ones relevant to your industry and get yourself listed.
11. BONUS: Automate as much as possible
This will help you eliminate or reduce the time spent on time-wasting tasks, such as XERO for book-keeping and Adbot for running Google Ads; Hootsuite for scheduling social media posts etc.
By following the above mentioned steps, you’ll be able to narrow down where your target market is spending their time online, and start attracting quality leads to your business!