With 2012 quickly approaching, it’s an ideal time for small business owners to reflect on their business successes and challenges of this past year. It’s also a great time to find that marketing plan buried in the computer files and revive it with fresh and relevant info and actions to meet the challenges ahead and reap greater success in the coming year.
For those of you who haven’t yet had the time or interest in making a marketing plan, now is a good time to lay the ground work in developing an effective strategy for 2012. While every business is unique and each should have a different operating plan and marketing strategy, most of today’s small businesses can benefit from the following marketing tactics. Consider making these a priority in your 2012 marketing strategy.
1. Develop, enhance or optimize your web site.
If you do no other marketing in the coming year, be sure to develop your web site. It really is critical to be online in today’s market. Don’t think that your type of business isn’t an online business. You can buy Amish furniture online, join a church online and order goods from a small, local business online. Even if you don’t intend to do business over the Internet, your web site allows people to find you and learn about you. It can immediately raise awareness of your business. If your small business already has a site, don’t stop there. Optimize your web site to get better rankings in search engines. Consider blogging, which is a great way to optimize your site. If you don’t know where to begi/ with search engine optimization or blogging, consider hiring an expert for help. There’s little sense in having a web site if no one can find it.
2. Coordinate a social media plan.
If you think you’re too far behind to get involved with social media now, or you’re just dipping your toes in the social media pond, go ahead and dive in. Social media is a great marketing tool that allows you to have a conversation with your customers, potential customers, suppliers, lenders and others who may bring publicity or business to you. Conversely, if you aren’t involved with social media, you risk appearing out of touch with these groups. If your competitors are active in online social networks and you’re not, you’re at a huge disadvantage. If this is completely new to you, don’t overwhelm yourself. Maybe try joining one social network at a time and build from there. It’s almost more detrimental to have your business just idling on a social network. Use it casually, frequently and socially…that’s the whole point!
3. Establish creative solutions to target your market directly.
I’ve had a lot of clients that think that once they have a storefront, or a web site, or a social media presence the business is going to start booming. While this does help raise awareness of your business immensely, it doesn’t guarantee that customers or clients are going to come running. Think of creative ways to get your business in front of your target market. Consider advertising in niche publications, being featured on Groupon or Living Social, offering your products or services on-site somewhere other than your business place, developing referral or incentive programs to build on your existing clients or customers. This involves creative brainstorming followed by a lot of research. So start with getting a group together to come up with plenty of fresh new ideas to tackle. If you’re in a slump and can’t think of anything, consider seeking help from a marketing consultant.
Even if your small business has been successful, breath some new life into your business with a revived marketing strategy for 2012. Good luck to your business in the coming year!