From social media to email to postcards to community events — there’s no shortage of marketing channels available to you when you’re ready to start promoting your business. Rather than trying to tackle every one of these channels at once, you will have the best results right away if you first focus on a few platforms or tools that make the most sense for your company. To help you home in on the right marketing path for your business, we’ve highlighted the top channels to start with based on your industry. But first, some basics that apply to virtually every business:
Building your foundation
Establishing a marketing and promotion strategy is critical when you’re launching a new business. Marketing is how you’ll get your business’s name out there, build your customer or client base, and generate interest in your products or services. The first step in developing an effective marketing strategy is prioritizing your efforts. While some marketing tools and platforms are a better fit for specific types of businesses, most companies can benefit from setting up the following as soon as possible.
63 percent of consumers use websites to find or communicate with businesses, so it’s important to start your website design project early. Your website is your business’s digital home and should, at the very least, have your company name, contact information and a clear description of what you do. It isn’t necessary to have a multi-page website with all of the bells and whistles. For many businesses, a single-page, mobile-friendly site that operates as an online billboard will suffice.
Directory sites like Yelp, Google My Business and Yahoo increase your business’s visibility in online searches — and that means you have more opportunities to connect with people looking for the products or services you offer. Claim your business listings in the top directories and make sure all of the information (business hours, address, website URL, phone number, etc.) is accurate. You can quickly find out if any information is missing or incorrect on over 40 online directories by getting a free online listing scan.
Which marketing channels to start with
After you have your foundation in place, you can direct your attention to the channels that are most relevant for your business and will give your marketing a boost right out of the gate.
Whether you operate an online shop or brick-and-mortar store, you can use these platforms to acquire new customers, introduce your latest offerings and distinguish yourself in the highly competitive retail industry.
- Social media — With 91 percent of retail brands using one or more social media channels, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest are great places for you to kick off your first marketing campaigns. Instagram and Pinterest are driven by visuals, giving you an opportunity to share eye-catching photos of your wares or product demos. Twitter can be used to field customer questions and concern. Facebook is perfect for advertising events and sharing sales-generating social coupons.
- Email — Use email marketing to share your latest sales and promotions, coupons and information about new releases with your customers. Email is also a great way to build brand loyalty. 80 percent of retail professionals say that email marketing is their greatest driver of customer retention. Place a notebook at your cash register or add a sign-up form on your website to collect email addresses for your contact list.
Diners have so many options when they want to eat out. Cook up a marketing plan that will encourage them to visit your restaurant — and not a competitor — by using these channels.
- Social media — Reach first-time and repeat diners by building a strong social presence. Your Facebook page can serve as your social media home base, allowing you to share timely updates and showcase customer reviews, while Instagram gives you a chance to post enticing food imagery.
- Packaging and apparel — Branded apparel and packaging are excellent ways to build brand awareness and demonstrate your professionalism. Have chef hats, T-shirts and aprons emblazoned with your logo created for your staff. You’ll also want to get takeout boxes, cups and bags customized for your business.
- Print marketing — A professionally printed menu that looks great is a must for virtually any eatery, no matter how small it may be. Save the blackboard or hastily photocopied pages for your daily specials, and put your regular menu on thick paper with a smart design that entices people to sample your dishes.
Construction and Contractors
A new construction business or contractor will want to focus on establishing trust and connecting with people who are actively searching for renovation or other construction services. Here are the platforms that will help kickstart those marketing efforts.
- Blog — Add a blog to your website and create content that showcases your experience, knowledge and specific area of expertise. How-to guides and case studies are especially useful.
- Search Marketing — Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) search engine advertising will improve your discoverability on the results pages of search engines like Google. SEO improves your organic search results through optimization techniques such as adding relevant keywords to blog and website content. With search advertising, you will pay to have ads displayed in search results. Combining paid and organic techniques will give you a higher chance of being seen by someone looking for your services.
General practitioners, dentists, chiropractors, doulas and other healthcare professionals can make it easier for those in need to find them by starting with these marketing channels and tools.
- Print and promotional products — Use postcards to introduce your facility or practice to prospects or remind current patients about upcoming appointments. Refrigerator magnets branded with your logo are also effective and will keep your business top-of-mind throughout the year. Consider taking promotional items like customized pens, hand sanitizer or thermometers to community events to introduce yourself to prospects.
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising — PPC advertising brings the highest quality traffic to your website. In fact, 81 percent of people click on a sponsored link when looking for health information. Paying search engines for top placement will generate more leads for your practice and convert more of those leads into new patients.
These channels will serve as a nice jumping-off point as you launch your business. Moving forward, make sure you’re spending your time and energy wisely by clearly defining your marketing goals and testing campaigns to see if you are on the right track.