Do you own your own small business? Thinking of starting one? Seattle is a growing place for new businesses, and one of the best ways to become a known entity is through smart marketing. Here are some ideas that can help.
1. Find Your Brand
“Come up with three or four sentences that describe your company,” says Sharon Mead, Principal at MeadRoad Commmunication in Seattle. “Think of key words that describe your business. For example, do you offer value? The best price? Are you the local authority? Or the fastest service?” Once you come up with your key message, Mead says, you’ll have given yourself a crucial road map that can help you locate new clients.
2. Locate Your Customer
Getting your brand’s messaging to the community can take on a variety of forms, and thanks to social media, they don’t have to be expensive. “A website is an essential,” says Mead. “It’s a communications touch point that gives validity to your business, and lets people read about you and contact you.” If you don’t have the resources for a website, a less expensive route is making a Facebook page. However, Mead warns that using Facebook means putting a little more energy into keeping the page updated. “A business Facebook page needs to be fairly current. If you don’t have current updates and photos, it can look stale.”
Another option is through mailers, post cards or mass emailing, says Molly Sheffield, a media buyer and owner of Red Licorice Media Works in Seattle. As a media buyer, Sheffield has access to addresses and emails and can help you pinpoint your potential customers by zip code, household income, and other categories. But make sure that your business is the kind that would benefit from a mass mailing. “You want a ‘call to action’ and your customer to respond in the moment,” says Sheffield. “I always suggest making a strong offer in the mailing. Either a percentage off coupon, or an incentive to order within the next 30 days.” Using a media buyer can help you to spend time and money targeting the audience that might be most interested in your business, rather than blanketing an area with flyers and hoping for the best. There are also online services like Constant Contact, that can help you email market or use other social media for less, and lets you track yourself to see how your marketing plan is working.
A third, easy way to market your business is to print up business cards. You can create a logo and put some of your key words on your card. Then, pass them around! Having business cards with you is a tried-and-true way to put your contact information directly into someone’s hands.
3. Keep Trying
While you want to spend your business dollars wisely, you also need to be flexible. “See what works,” suggests Mead. “Find out what avenue gives you the most bang for your buck. Marketing your business takes work and a willingness to put in the effort.” Trying different strategies will help you find your customers. “Every customer has a ‘hot button’,” says Sheffield. “It’s all about finding it.”
To contact MeadRoad Communications, email Sharon@MeadRoad.com. To contact Red Licorice Media Works, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Written by Tama Fulton, CBS Local Seattle