Guest post by Karleia Steiner
Popular stories from companies such as Facebook and AirBnB have many smaller business owners believing that customer acquisition will be easy as long as they have the right product or service. While maintaining an unparalleled product is the first step in expanding a customer base, owners will also need to take a look at the following tips to keep their pool of customers growing throughout the years.
1. Content Marketing
Savvy marketers have jumped on the Content Marketing bandwagon with good reason. Content marketing is generally considered to be the most cost-effective method of getting new customers. Once you set up your social media accounts and your website is up and running, you can regularly release engaging and helpful information with blogs, white papers, and press releases to increase your company’s visibility at little to no cost.
2. The 80/20 Rule Continue reading
“Marketing is a Revenue Generator - NOT a Cost Center!” If you’ve been involved in marketing for any length of time, it’s likely that you’ve heard something like this before.
I can’t count how many times I’ve sat in on meetings where I felt compelled to defend my marketing budget. “It’s an investment in growth,” I said, as the others on the senior management team rolled their eyes.
Does nothing change???
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s newest study, “The rise of the marketer: Driving engagement, experience and revenue,” found that “business owners view marketing both as revenue drivers (69% agree, 19% strongly) and cost centers (68% agree, 26% strongly). At most companies, the business owners know that marketing drives revenue, but the view that marketing is a cost is just as widespread.”
Huh? Can it be both?
Over the next 3-5 years, respondents expect that the marketing function will migrate from the cost side of the ledger to the revenue side. And, what will drive that? Several things…
Guest post by Lynsey Bowen
If we get down to what marketing is about, it’s basically real estate. Think of the human brain as having some areas on it labelled, “This space for rent.” You don’t buy that space with a mortgage, though. Rather, you buy that space with an idea.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “ideavirus,” it’s an idea that spreads like a virus. A good idea doesn’t cut it. Putting engine cleaner in your tank is a good idea, but how many people do it? Eating healthy is a good idea, but last we checked, there are more McDonald’s in the U.S. than there are vegetarian restaurants.
With a big marketing budget, you can buy a lot of ad space and hire brilliant creatives whose names alone will boost your brand, even if their ads are lousy. But, when it comes to developing an idea that has sharability built right into it, you and McDonald’s are beginning at the same starting line.
Now, implementing those ideas, on the other hand… well, on that level, you’ve got to be very creative to make up for a lack of money. Luckily, you do have some options. Here are some ideas:
Be an Aggressive Stat-Checker
Develop a zero tolerance policy for ads that just aren’t working. To a certain extent, this may feel like the efficiency-driven manic number crunching that dominates corporate culture, but you can think about changing how people do business when you make your second million.
Become a Big Fish in a Small Pond
Downsize what you do. Expand into a niche, not beyond it, and you’ll be able to focus on a much more concentrated percentage of the population - people who are already interested in what you’re selling. Pre-qualify your prospects and don’t waste time and money advertising to people who are outside your area of interest.
Make DIY Part of Your Brand
So you can’t afford professional talent. One option is to buy cheap, corny-looking stock photos and pay someone in another country a buck an hour to produce something that will look like your big-money competitors, only not as good. Or, you can do it yourself and allow the handmade feel to be a part of your brand.
Note: this works better for some businesses than others. iPhone-snapped photos might feel quaint and fun for a catalog selling hand-knit sweaters and hats, but they might not inspire confidence at a law firm.
When you overextend, when you buy more ad space than you can afford, you wind up with late fees and fines that devour your ad budget. Buy less than you can afford, and you’ll always be able to pay your vendors on time.
Hashtags have gotten a bad name lately, as they’re a way for lazy people to pretend to campaign for social change. For an advertiser though, they’re golden. Rewarding your customers with discounts, freebies and special offers when they hashtag your brand is a great way to get them to spread the word. You can ask for customer referrals, but people are more likely to help out if they feel there’s something in it for them.
A common mistake when it comes to marketing: entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small business owners often think “If only I had the right exposure, I could really blow up.” Exposure isn’t the only thing standing between you and greater success. Before you can take that “for rent” sign down from prospects’ minds, you need something that they will respond to, something that they will gladly allot that space to.
In short, more exposure can be a big help, but before you start worrying about your marketing budget, consider whether or not that exposure will help.
Lynsey Bowen works as a branding and marketing consultant for connectmyapps.com. She has a keen interest in Internet marketing, SEO, web design, and graphic design.