Being a small business owner is full on at the best of times, let alone in the current climate, where pivoting is the new buzz word and we’re all getting to grips with how best to do that for our specific situation.
Talking with some of my clients over the past few days the thing that keeps coming up is, as a marketing specialist what do you think we should be doing?
They’d all like to know what that one thing is they can do to get people spending again with them – and the thing is, there isn’t a one size fits all solution and, most importantly, it isn’t one thing, but rather the accumulation of many little things that will make a difference to their business over time.
In this blog I’ll be sharing some tips about the ‘little’ things you can do to continue to raise brand awareness for your business and what platforms you should consider having a presence on.
Building trust and confidence
We really are going through some exceptional times and they’re proving a testing ground for companies’ brand promises. Now more than ever customers will want to see your values align with your actions – you can’t just talk the talk but have to show you walk the talk as well.
It isn’t business as usual, so adjust your messaging accordingly but stick to your values and principles. Here are some key things you can do that will help build trust in your brand;
- Show up and do your part. Figure out where you can make a difference and go out and do it. It’s not about what you say but all the more about your actions.
- Don’t go it alone. Set aside your differences and look at opportunities to unite and make a difference together.
- Solve problems that need solving. Talk about the problems your customers have and provide solutions. Don’t focus on the product, but on the solutions you’re offering.
- Show your human side. Focus all you do around people – customers, staff and suppliers – and make a difference to them.
Look after your existing customers
You’ve worked hard to get your customers so it’s worth looking after them. They cannot just become, or continue to be, repeat customers, they are also your fans and will help spread word about your fabulous products, services and experiences among their network.
Use your email database
Use email to connect with customers – you’ve already gained so much trust that they were willing to share their personal information (their email address) with you so they’ll want to hear from you.
Share updates about your offering, what you’re doing to keep visitors to your premises safe, happy faces/ stories of recent customers, or perhaps changes you’ve made to your terms and conditions to encourage people to buy from you in uncertain times.
It’s not about continually asking them to buy from you – people don’t like to be sold to – but rather engaging with them so they feel positive about your business and they’re keen to support it – either as a repeat customer, by recommending your product or service to their friends and family, or by writing a review online.
Be really specific about what you want to share with people and what action you would like them to take. Hyperlinks are a great way to encourage people to take specific action; direct them to a specific page on your website, send you an email enquiry or phone you.
Make sure you have your back-end set up so it’s easy for people to update their preferences and encourage them to be as specific as possible so you can send information that’s relevant for them.
The key EDM (Electronic Direct Mail) platforms to consider are;
- Mailchimp is well known and their basic plan is free up to 2000 contacts so a great starting point. They also offer remarketing advertising options and even basic websites.
- Alternatively, check out Active Campaign, not free but they do offer some great automation options and are fabulous for click funnels.
- Depending on your website platform (e.g. Shopify, Squarespace) there may be some in-built email capability. Just do your research and make sure it works for you.
Ask for reviews
If you haven’t been asking customers for reviews, now’s the time to start. Depending on your line of business there are several options for people to leave a review about your product or service – when they go through the effort of writing a review for you make sure to reply to them promptly.
Work out which are most relevant for your business, but to get you started here are the main options for New Zealand businesses;
- Google My Business – create a business profile for free with Google and you can post updates, share photos, list opening hours, and of course get reviews from people. To create your business profile find instructions here, steps to create a hyperlink to your review page are here – giving people the link makes it extra easy for them to write a review for you!
- Tripadvisor – especially for those in hospitality and tourism. Claim or register your business to share images, contact details and get reviews.
- Rankers – is dedicated to anything NZ travel and tourism related. Find out more here.
- Facebook has a review option too on business pages.
- LinkedIn lets you give recommendations to individuals, and you can send a private message asking your connections to write one for you.
Connecting with potential customers
Figuring out what media to use all depends on who your target audience is, so start with that. If unsure where to start, read my blog about defining your target audience here.
It’s ok to have multiple audiences but when you communicate with them (for example writing a post) make sure you target that to only one particular audience so you can be really clear in your messaging and make it relevant for them.
Do your research to find out what platforms your target audiences mainly use, then reach out to the relevant platforms and find out about editorial and advertising/ sponsorship options plus advertising rates.
Key media platforms to consider
- Facebook – make sure to set up Business Manager (click here) and Ad Manager (here) which give you better insights and more control.
- Don’t just create a business page and engage through that, look for groups and pages that your target audience might be part of and engage with them where they are. Check out these groups; Nelson/Tasman Businesses Top of the South (2.6k members), Nelson Buy Sell Swap (36k members), New Zealand Made Products and Business (10k members), Buy Local and Buy NZ Made – Be Proud (1.3k members), Awesome things to do in Nelson (3.1k members).
- LinkedIn – if you have a business page use Campaign Manager to run ads.
- Community newspapers like Nelson Weekly, Waimea Weekly, Motueka & Golden Bay Guardian (all independently owned), and The Leader (part of Australian owned Stuff) will run free editorial if it’s an interesting local story, plus offer one-off and longer term advertising rates on various types of ads.
- Daily newspaper the Nelson Mail (also owned by Stuff) do the the same.
- Magazines like Wild Tomato (independently owned) and Nelson Magazine (published by the team that also bring you Nelson Weekly and the Nelson App).
- There are also some small localised publications like the Moutere Grapevine and North Nelson News.
These all have digital advertising options.
There are two main commercial operators, plus independent community radio in the region.
- Mediaworks (based in the old villa next to the Rutherford Hotel) who own More FM, Magic, The Breeze, The Rock, The Edge and The Sound radio stations.
- NZME (short for New Zealand Media and Entertainment, they’re based just across the road from Mediaworks on the corner of Selwyn Place and Church Street) who own Newstalk ZB, The Hits, Mix Online, Coast, ZM and Radio Hauraki.
- There’s also Fresh FM, an independently owned community radio station.
Industry specific platforms
Depending on what industry you operate in there will be specific magazines and online platforms you should consider.