Business promoting is the active process of getting stuff sold. Failure to promote defeats the purpose of being in business and is a proven route to going out of business.
Despite the need to promote or perish, many small-business operators fail to match the correct promotion with their selling objective. Using the wrong promotion to get stuff sold usually produces unwanted results.
The Branding Imperative
Savvy small-business operators tend to use a mix of inbound and outbound promotional strategies to acquire customers. Marketing pundits, however, commonly give priority to inbound strategies -- those that attract the customer to you rather than require you to reach out and draw the customer in. They put particular emphasis on branding.
The branding process establishes customer preference for your products based on perceived differences and uniqueness. When your customers prefer you over your competitors, you can usually command higher price points that customers willingly pay.
Because branding consists of the totality of experiences you deliver to your customers, successful small-business operators strive to deliver excellent customer experiences at all touchpoints where customers come in contact with their business.
Define – Identify – Engage
Although every business activity involving customer contact is a branding activity, you can use specific inbound branding strategies that work well for small businesses. Start by defining the brand identity you want embedded in the minds of your customers. Your brand identity encapsulates the specific value proposition your business offers customers that your competitors do not.
With a clearly defined brand identity in hand, establish the profile of your target audience -- your existing customers and most likely prospects. Then, find where customers and prospects hang out in social media and engage them there.
Shift to Online Promotions
Promoting online, especially in social media, is a boon to small business. It enables the little guys to better compete with the big guys. Research by the Pew Research Center in 2011 confirms people hang out in social media to connect with kindred spirits. Moreover, more than 70 percent use social media on mobile platforms, which permits efficient targeting of local audiences.
Enrich the Social Experience
Promoting your business in social media works best when you enrich your target audience's social experience. This is a proven way to enhance your brand's social validation while creating your tribe of brand advocates in the process.
Great content enriches the social experience. It's what people expect from their favorite social media haunts. Steal a page from television advertising's emotional advertising playbook perfected back in the day when network TV reigned supreme. Create content that positively resonates the psyche and the emotional brain.
Keeping the Doors Open
You risk starving your business by relying exclusively on inbound promotional strategies. That's why marketers use outbound promotions to generate quick sales.
You can use numerous outbound promotional strategies to generate quick sales without neglecting the essential branding chore. These strategies -- which include search engine marketing and mobile marketing -- are often lumped under the umbrella term interruption marketing. You literally interrupt peoples' online activity to get their attention. By contrast, you must earn the attention of your target audience with inbound promotional strategies.
Choose a promotional strategy that gives you a competitive advantage.