Be it you are running a small retail business or providing consultation services, making your business look professional is important to retain customers. Unfortunately many small businesses are caught into daily operation and completely skip planning stage.
Strategy is all about decisions you need to develop tactical action plan to meet small business objectives. It is the foundation for creating awareness, generating interest, closing new sales and continuing customer engagement.
It is important to define your customers, determine your industry and identify competitors prior designing value proposition to differentiate your business from existing competitors. Having viable marketing strategy enables you to determine business that grows profitably or one that constantly fail to gain momentum. You choose to play the guessing game of “maybe next time we should advertise on The Star newspaper” or you can “develop a clear marketing strategy” and implement accordingly to see result. If you are one of the small businesses in Malaysia, here are 5 proven marketing tips which I would like to share with you.
Many small businesses are aware on the importance of marketing plan. However many fail to even start their marketing planning as most are too occupied running daily operation. It is when a decrease in sales happen, people panic and will start finding ways to salvage the situation. Ad-hoc marketing decisions made in such situation are mostly following footsteps of competitors. It is not cost-effective and in the long run can cause more damage than good. So, how do we develop a good marketing plan?
If you ever engage professional marketing consultants, the first question they ask is definitely “What do you want to achieve?”. As small business owners, you need to determine why you are spending money on marketing? Do you want to bring in more customers who pay? Or you simply want to enhance your brand awareness and maximize local exposure. It is after identifying marketing objectives, you are able to develop complementing tactics to implement. Plan with clear objectives in mind is the first step towards marketing success. You might consider these successful marketing campaign to be incorporated into your future marketing plan.
If you are really serious about building a business, what you need to focus is to organize and manage your business, with the objective to earn a profit. What is the point of starting a business if you work more time but gain income more or less the same as your employment salary? A business owner who still spent 80% of his time on repetitive work is more likely to spent the rest of his “entrepreneurial time” running around like a worker. It will then be no different working for others.
Admit it, nothing is free in this world, it is either you spent “more money” or spent “more time” to see result. However, small business owners in Malaysia will normally do everything themselves with the hope to save more money. This is so wrong. The objective of running a business is to generate more profit by offering good solutions for its intended market and not save more money. Please do not get me wrong. I am not saying it is not right to spend prudently, but the focus of a business should be to generate more revenue with unique offerings.
In marketing, you need to spend money to see result. Paying others to do time-consuming, repetitive work allows you to plan and manage the business more effectively. Work such as designing & sharing post on social media every hour, hoping to gain some business is too much a cost for small businesses.
I learned how to strategically buy Facebook Ads through Facebook Ads Launch Pad and this is the most valuable training I would want to recommend to my friends. It does not only show you technically how to buy ads (which Facebook already has this free training) but it also shows the strategy behind each placement of advertisement.
So if you really want to make your business profitable and sustain, you need to invest on paid advertisements. Start buying social media ads (eg: FB or Instagram Ads), search ads (eg: Google Adwords), display ads (eg: Chitika or Taboola) and invest in good analytics & tracking tools to measure each of your marketing campaign. Whether you tackle this yourself or hire someone to help, it can save so much of your time. But if you still insist to promote your business without paying for ads, here are 7 tips to effectively grow your local business with Twitter.
Seriously, I really think social channel is a pain and took up much of my time, but it is also something I never want to get rid of. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram have already integrate as part of my life…. and they did slowly conquer my time without me realizing!
Regardless you are CEO of a multinationals or small business owners, the power of social channel must not be undermined. These are the channels your potential customers hangout nowadays. To optimize digital marketing, small businesses need to identify which social channel your customers spend most of their time.
For example, if you are managing a restaurant, Instagram or Twitter might be the ones you should focus to bring customers into your restaurant. Instagram attracts “image lovers” and Twitter is based on real-time engagement whereby you can tweet your offer one hour before meal time. But if your business is about providing corporate services, maybe LinkedIn will be more suitable as this is the largest professional social channel you can find. Regardless which social channel you choose, Facebook with active users of over 1 billion, is one you should never ignore. You might be interested to check out how to sell on Facebook if you decided to invest in Facebook marketing.
When you are a small business, email marketing is perfect to constantly engage customers and build loyalty. You can ask customers to provide their contact details by offering them some benefits such as discount or free gifts. Once they give you their email addresses, it provides opportunities for your business to send out offerings or notification. You can even send them weekly or bi-weekly newsletter to brag about milestones, successes or even announce new employees or big family events. Remember, people are more receptive towards brand that connects emotionally.
To avoid your emails going into spam folders of your customers, try AWeber that comes with great features including pre-determined digital form template, automated email sending, subscribers management and email analytics. Make sure your emails are mobile-friendly as most people check their emails on mobile devices.
Please do not confuse yourself between business website and blog. Both are similar but the content and objectives are definitely not the same. A business website consists of professional information about your business and offerings, meant to promote revenue growth. Whereas a blog will portray a more humane side of your business and information are presented in a more lay back manner to enhance brand loyalty, bringing your brand closer to the people.
Having a blog enables your business to brag about employees life @workplace, business events, announcement of any personal achievement or even any successes or milestones achieved by your business.
Even AirAsia creates their infamous blog despite not consistently updates with content – the last update was 12 months ago! However AirAsia does leverage extensively on 3rd party channel such as social media to bring its brand closer to the people. This is a risk AirAsia needs to take. If any of the channel fail, it will directly impact AirAsia marketing outcome.
I can’t rationalize this strategic decision made by AirAsia, because unlike small businesses, AirAsia might require faster speed to compete with existing airlines; which leveraging on various social channels can definitely yield faster result. But for small businesses which are still not well-known and normally have limited budget, investing in blog is for sure much cheaper and sustainable than solely depending on social channels.
The trick to blogging success is to post relevant content consistently, preferably once per week and optimize your blog with keywords so people can find you. If you plan to create blog on your own, check out how you can do it here or if you want to try building a blog immediately at zero cost, try SiteRubix below.
There are many ways to improve sales for small businesses in Malaysia. All you need to do is identify your customers, find out where they always hangout, thus find similar people like them and pull in all your resources to those specific channels you found them.
Marketing is never a one-off thing. You need to continuously engage in strategic marketing activities to attract potential and maintain existing customers. This will ensure business growth and sustainability.