Community of peopleIn the digital world that we now live in with over 5,000 branded sales messages coming at us from the time we wake until we go to bed, many of our clients operating small businesses want to know how they can stand out.

“Build Your Tribe” is what I tell them.

By doing the basics in marketing very well, you will consistently reach out to attract and maintain a community of like-minded people who can become customers, partners and advocates of your brand.  It’s not necessary to try to capture everyone, only the people who are ideal for you to work and associate with that can help to keep your sales funnel full.  Following are a few key outreach strategies that we suggest you do to stay relevant and in the mind of your target audience.

1. Positioning & Research

Ensure you have a clearly defined sense of purpose and a positioning statement that says who you are, what you do, for whom you do it, how and why YOU versus your competitors.

It’s also important to know exactly who it is you are targeting.  Who is your ideal customer?  What do they care about? What do they read, watch, listen to, where do they surf and hang out?  How do you solve their problem or enhance their life?  Understand them and you’ll have a better grasp of how they want to be communicated to.

2. Create Your Visual Brand

Did you know that companies with great visual appeal through effective design are more profitable than those who haven’t invested in a professional looking brand?  If you think about it, humans are naturally drawn to attractive objects.  Models are used to sell fashion, cars, travel, food and all things enjoyable in life for a reason.  Because it makes consumers pay attention.  The same is true for your brand on how it looks and what it says.  If you are serious about standing out and making an impact on your audience, at the very least have a good logo and modern website presence that works well on mobile.  These days with so much competition, as a business we really only have one chance to make a strong first impression.  Findings from the Design Council report that “shares in companies where design plays a critical role consistently outperform key stock market indicators by 200%,” and that “for every $130 spent on design, design-alert businesses realized a $298 return.”

3. Marketing Strategy

Once you know exactly who you want to attract and where they spend their time through adequate research, you can assess which marketing strategies will make the most sense for your business. Sure, social media is a popular communication tool used these days, however it is not necessarily going to be the top marketing strategy for your business if your target customers aren’t spending much time online.  Many of our clients are baby boomers and so are their customers, all whom rarely use social media or if they do, it’s only to share photos and the odd update with friends and family on Facebook, or to search how-to information on YouTube.  For these types of clients, more traditional marketing methods work best such as advertising, direct sales, tradeshows, PR, networking and SEO.

If you are targeting the millennial audience who are avid users of social media for searching and sharing information, then online channels will be a large portion of your marketing budget.  You have to go where your customers are.

4. Customer Relationship Management

Another fundamental marketing practice that you should adopt as a small business owner is ensuring that you are keeping track of your company’s relationships through a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program such as Hubspot.com. They even have a freemium version.   You can enter important data on each stage of the customer buying cycle in order to task next steps and reminders on where the relationship is at, so you can tailor each communication for them.

5. e-Newsletters

An opt-in newsletter providing some of your expertise as a teaser can help your company stay top-of-mind reaching current and previous clients all at once, so you are who they think of when a need shows up. You can use a blog article that you recently published, add an inspiring quote and a few market stats and away you go!  Pushing information out will enable you to reach people that you aren’t in front of regularly, and remind them that you and your company are ready to help them.

There are professional html email vendors such as www.mailchimp.com that have ready-made templates you can use by uploading your own branded images and content fairly easily.  Outlook or Gmail are not email marketing programs, nor do they track open rates, so stick to the professionals such as MailChimp or Constant Contact.

6. Search Engine Optimization

Another must-do is invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to show up on a Google search for specific keywords that your company’s specializes in.  If you are a local florist operating in downtown Langley, B.C., then you should be “tagging” all your content (blogs, video, images, etc.) with words that your target customer is searching for such as “Florist in Langley, B.C.” and working these words naturally into your body copy and keyword tags.  There are a number of other actions to enhance SEO results and it pays to have an expert’s assistance.

7. Blogging

Google loves fresh content so the more you write blog articles on your area of expertise, the higher chance you will get of showing up in a search result for specific keywords.  The content must be compelling, frequent and relevant to customers’ needs in order for the search engines to rank it.

So there you have it.  Do the above actions well and you will build a community around your brand.  It may seem like a lot of work initially but once you have the system down, it will run like clockwork.   And if you need any help, we are always here to guide you through it.