Marlynn Schotland on Marketing Your Small Business
Marlynn Schotland, founder of Urban Bliss Media and an expert in small business marketing, recently ran a workshop for the members of our Social Innovation Incubator Circuit Program. In this post, we share some of her advice on creating an effective online presence for your brand.
“Every part of your business should live and breath your consistent message.”
Your message grows from a clear understanding of your company’s 4 Ps: Product (what you sell), Price (for how much), Place (where you sell it), and Promotion (how you get people to buy it). You also need to be creative in understanding your customers and competition. Everyone has competition; something only slightly similar to your product can still take away your sales. Your customers also may not be what you expect; don’t assume they all look and act like you.
Once you know what makes your brand distinct, and to whom you should communicate this message, you need to develop a marketing budget. Make certain to include your time (the most valuable resource most entrepreneurs have). This will help you determine the best way to invest your limited time and money, and can serve as a guide for web developers, consultants or staff.
Speaking of limited time, develop a marketing calendar that includes website updates and social media posts. Scheduling when, and how long, you’ll spend writing, posting, and tweeting will keep you disciplined and prevent marketing from becoming a time sink or distraction.
“Educate, engage, and entertain.”
With all of the social media platforms and online tools available, where should you focus your energy? According to a recent study in eMarketer, the largest driver of traffic for small businesses is their website — and the second largest is their blog.
You may not think you have time to blog, but short posts are often most effective. Something as simple as a customer FAQ, some behind-the-scenes info on your latest product, or even a few photos of new items are a good way to build an online audience and drive traffic to your website.
Websites are faster and easier to create than ever before, thanks to platforms like Weebly and WordPress. Ecommerce integration is simple using Shopify, Big Cartel or Woocommerce, and linked email marketing through Mail Chimp or Constant Contact helps you manage outreach to online customers. Keep in mind, though, that fast and cheap aren’t the same as effective — make certain to watch focus groups or new customers using your website to make certain it’s intuitive and appealing.
Whatever platforms and channels you end up using, keep your message consistent. Remember to educate, engage, and entertain your audience, and the sales will follow.