Business marketing is a tough job for anyone to handle. This job is made even harder when you are the one doing everything else. From billing to stocking shelves to making service calls. There is a reason people are hired to be full-time marketers for larger companies. It’s both a major time commitment and a necessity for a business’s growth. So how does a small business owner tackle marketing while not overloading their plate and making the company suffer as a result?
Easy, don’t do it.
I’m not saying don’t market your business, you just shouldn’t be doing it yourself. While there are things you can certainly take on all your own, like occasional social media posting or a monthly email, but in order to get the best bang for your buck you need to be delegating to someone else.
Hiring an outside individual or company to handle your small business marketing needs leads to an increase in ROI (return on investment) and lets you focus on the actual nuts and bolts of what your business provides to customers.
Here are a few major pieces to an effective marketing strategy and how you should go about getting someone to handle it.
Company or Business Website
I’m going to assume that most, if not all, of you have a website already. You probably list your services, some contact information, a little section about you and the company, and more information like that. This is good, it’s all the information that most small businesses need, and nothing more. The question is, who designed that website and how did they make it?
A lot of business owners will go to a family member who is a “web designer” and have them make a site. The problem with this is that you are getting someone who is either not going to devote all their time to it, or they aren’t as good as advertised. The other option most owners go with is a huge company like Hibu or Deluxe. They catch you on the phone, pitch you what seems like a great price upfront, and then lock you into a contract in which you end up paying a ridiculous amount over the course of your website’s life.
What You Should Do: As a business owner you should be looking to balance expenses with quality and effectiveness. The way you achieve that is by going with a small company or certified professional to handle your web design and hosting. While it may seem enticing to go with the family member who is promising the world, and who will do it for free, most of the time you are getting what you (don’t) pay for. A bad website is worse than not having one at all. You may show up on search engines and get traffic, but if your website looks unprofessional and old, you are not going to convert those potential customers.
Personally, I prefer going with a small company over an individual designer. This is because the business has a team that will be focused on getting you a completed project that meets your standards, as well as theirs. By having a team, the work gets spread around and not a single person is overwhelmed by all the tasks involved, and each person is (hypothetically) better trained in their respective jobs. I think it’s a better option than going with the jack of all trades, master of none.
While it may seem like an “old school” approach, print marketing is still one of the most effective ways to get the word out about a business. On average it’s ROI is higher than email, social media, and search engine advertising, combined. However, most small business owners are going about the idea all wrong. There is a common misconception that an effective print marketing approach is having a few business cards and maybe a brochure that get handed out occasionally. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
I have personally talked with so many business owners who are infatuated with getting business cards, brochures, and flyers printed. They use these massive online and retail printers like VistaPrint and Staples and think that they are getting two things: great pricing and great quality. Both are not true. When you go with these companies you are getting low quality paper, retail-level pricing, and using stock designs that thousands of other companies are already using.
I actually went to a networking event a few weeks back where I got two business cards from two different business owners, and they both had the same design. I went back to the office, looked it up online, and sure enough it was a stock design from VistaPrint.
Now I’m not going to lie, I have used both Staples and Vista in the past, especially when I started out. But ever since I have become so heavily involved in the print marketing sphere, I just can’t go back.
What You Should Do: Just as with the website design and hosting, print marketing needs to be looked at as an investment. While there are high upfront costs from design, printing, and shipping, it’s an investment that will lead to increased customer attraction and awareness, which ultimately leads to conversions and sales.
My first rule? Avoid online retail printers. They are in business to mark up the printing prices and most won’t produce high quality products that local business can produce. You should be looking to go with local marketing companies that specialize in printing, as well as local print shops. Their pricing is comparable to online retailers, but the quality is much higher and they offer so much more customization to what they can offer.
Second, forget what you think you know about print marketing. There is so much more than just business cards and brochures. One of the best marketing methods a small business can take advantage of is direct mailing. You know those giant postcards that come in the mail every once in a while, usually with coupons or special offers on them? That is what I am talking about. Think about the last time you received one of those mailings from a small business. You probably can’t remember because it’s so rare. By taking advantage of a space that your competition isn’t in, you are already separating yourself and building a powerful brand image.
This is part one in a three part series.
If you are looking for these services for your own business, CT Business Solutions is here to help. We provide high quality WordPress web design and print marketing services to all of Connecticut and neighboring areas.