As we move into 2014, small business owners are cautiously optimistic. The National Federation of Independent Business noted in November that small business owners were a bit more hopeful than they had been earlier in the year, even with plateaued sales and slightly lower earnings. Think about how you want to project your business image in 2014. Maintain an optimistic outlook and reinvest in your marketing efforts, and 2014 will be a great year for your business.
Engage in Social Media
If social media is something you deal with rather than embrace, rethink this attitude. Social media’s power lies in its ability to drive word-of-mouth advertising. At the very least, create a company profile on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is what the Yellow Pages were a generation ago: If your business isn’t listed with it, its authenticity is questionable to some folks. A basic LinkedIn page is free and easy to set up, and the service features many valuable resources including membership in LinkedIn groups, news related to your business and your local market and even professional advice.
If you are a B2C, set up a Facebook business page as well. It’s free as well, and recent Pew research shows Facebook is the most trusted online source to get recommendations for products and services. Plus, Facebook provides useful information about who has visited your page and “liked” it, which in turn can help you adjust your marketing messages.
Talk to Your Customers Through Twitter
Twitter works for both B2C and B2B businesses. According to Pew Research, 18 percent of all adults who are online use Twitter, and 19 percent of those earn $75,000 per year or more. Another 19 percent are between the ages of 30-49. If you don’t have a Twitter account, get one. It’s free and ridiculously easy to use. Tweet updates about sales, specials and news that would interest your customers. Items posted to your Facebook page will give you some ideas.
Revisit Your Hard Copy Materials
When was the last time you reviewed your hard copy marketing materials? If you’ve been using the same old copy and design on the same old brochures and fliers for years, it’s time for a refresh. Even a new logo can be a breath of fresh air. Major companies like Yahoo, Billboard and Nivea have updated or changed their logos. The same goes for content. Too much of the same thing, and your company blends in—help it stand out.
If you can afford to do so, hire a professional writer and graphic designer to look these items over and provide a fresh outlook on content and design. The cost is minimal, and it’s a legitimate business expense. You can get recommendations for these services using your new social media skills.
Printing is another area to ask for recommendations in. Changes in printing processes and advancements in technology make online printing services a good choice, as you no longer have to go with whoever’s local. You upload your design and content and test fonts, colors and background before you place the order. You’ll see and approve your product before it gets printed, too, which helps avoid mistakes and misunderstandings.
Send out Brief ENewsletters
Enewsletters still work well, especially for B2Bs. While blogs have taken over some of the enewsletter’s functions, the fact is that people still love their email. More than 2.5 million people still pay for email services, according to The Consumerist.
For those whose communications are informative rather than urgent, email is still useful. According to the Email Stat Center, people do read their email. OK, so 72 percent do it to pass time, but 67 percent check it at their desk (presumably, at work) and 57 percent do so during lunch.
Spend time to write and email newsletters that are brief, easy to read on a smartphone and link to your website. Use lots of bullets to break up the content. A good marketing expert can assist with this.