There are never-ending ways that you can connect with customers and leads. In fact, there are more touch points than ever. Which only makes it even more obvious that new business ideas are a great opportunity to get yourself out there.
The trick is finding a spot between being seen, without being incredibly expensive either. Any business knows that marketing strategies can quickly rack up a pretty penny. Fortunately, there are a few ways to promote your eCommerce or service business without spending your entire budget.
Before we dive into those ideas, let’s cover the basics of why you do need to do a little marketing.
Why You Need Fresh Marketing Ideas Your Business
There are the obvious reasons for getting your name out there, like to grow. But, there are some other things that prove marketing is indeed, a major player in your success.
- To have a voice in the crowd – everyone is doing it, so you should too.
- If you want to compete with competitors, you need to be seen with competitors.
- You have to build your brand. You can’t build a reputation if no one knows you exist.
- It’s only going to promote growth.
1. Team Up With Another Business
You’ve seen waiting rooms filled with business cards, haven’t you? Then you know how common it is for businesses to partner with one another. Finding a non-competing business to partner with is great for your business’s health. The best part is, no matter what kind of business you have, there is always a business out there that has pretty similar clientele.
Example: Think of a wedding planning service: they would be a great partner business for a caterer, a photographer, a DJ, and so on. All those services tend to have overlapping customers, yet none of them are competing. Customers are likely looking for all these types of services for their big day.
Being a partner with someone who your customers can benefit from but that isn’t a direct competitor to you is a perfect way to get in a little marketing. The partner company will recommend you to their clients, and you can do the same.
Partnering also makes marketing affordable
If you find a partner who is willing to exchange content with you, you’re golden. You may see this quite often, especially in the eCommerce realm. You can ask to be included on the resources page of businesses that offer complementary services to your business. Likewise, be sure to have your own resources page to help build partnerships and to provide additional value to your customers.
Example: You may see a resource page on your wedding planners website. It may include helpful articles and related content. But, more importantly, it can provide customers with information about the wedding planners preferred vendors. You may even see these partner businesses displayed as a banner on the wedding planner’s website, like their favorite caterer. In return, the catering business displays a banner of the wedding planner on their site as well.
Additionally, the two share advertising costs with one another. Therefore, they split the bill of the ad, and are both being promoted together all over the web.
Bonus: Team up with a Charity! companies like FACT Goods have seen success with this tactic for their breast cancer awareness hats. Even if you can’t partner up completely, there is a benefit to limited engagements. A great example here is the (Product) Red campaigns.
2. Nurture Reviews
Usually, a customer will not go out of their way to write a review for you. Reviews, generally, are written because something really good happened or something incredibly bad happened. But, reviews are a great marketing aid, and often help leads determine whether they will shop with you or not. So always be looking out for those super happy customers, or the one who you know have had a good experience with you. Then simply ask for a review. You don’t have to be forceful, but if you don’t ask you might not get a review at all.
To reiterate why reviews are a good marketing tool:
- People do their research and look to reviews before making purchases.
- A review is an easy way to build your credibility – all ‘legit’ businesses have a few reviews somewhere
A few tips for getting reviews
- Be sure to ask in a professional way. This can mean ending your conversation by saying how much you’d appreciate a review, sending them a recap email a few days after your last encounter and including a review link.
- Remind customers you are on social media as well as what review sites you’re on. This information is great in newsletters, on thank you or confirmation pages and emails, and can even make a good social media update.
- Encourage reviews on Google. Let’s face it, it would be a great first impression to show up with a few good reviews on a Google search. Prospects will definitely be impressed.
3. Use Social Media
You may think social media is a black hole, a lot of work, and too much of a fuss. But, the truth is, it’s an actual gold mine. Why? Well, your customers are already there. It doesn’t matter if you have a wide range of customers, or are more niche. People of all ages use social media. Plus, your profile page can show up in a simple internet search when someone is looking for your business.
So, why not use a platform to better connect with your customers? They can view what’s new and upcoming with you. Customers can even write reviews for you on your social media page, which further helps build your social proof.
Having a running website is really important. Most customers come to you after they do a bit of research. Sadly, if you aren’t on the web, you may miss out on a ton of potential business. Not to mention, you may even lose your professional edge, and lose customers to competitors who do have websites.
However, if you are still working on your website, the next best thing you can do is get yourself a social media page. Having a social media page is a must, and can help bridge the gap while you’re working on your website. When people search for a specific type of business, and nothing pops up with your name on it, people will simply choose what they see is available.
Good GREAT Customer Service
Believe it or not, but customer service is one of the best ways to get more business. In fact, most consumers have higher expectations for customer service than they did just a year ago. With good customer service, you are giving your customers another good reason to advocate for you.
So be sure you’re providing it because you better believe your sales and customer base will go down without it.
Here are some reasons customer service is a great marketing tactic:
First and foremost, the way to increase your word of mouth marketing is to create a sense of trust. You can’t build trust if customers aren’t able to easily talk to you or address their concerns. If you’re giving them a bad customer experience from the beginning, they definitely won’t advocate for you in the long-haul. But, if you provide good customer service from the get-go, customers will have that trust built in from the start, and will likely put in a good word for you.
Good customer service gives customers a good reason to talk about you. If you have some people who are highly impressed they might even blab about you on their social networks, meaning you just earned yourself a free advertisement. What’s even better is super happy customers will not just mention your name, but they may even tag you in posts, share your content, and even talk about you in person.
5. Create Share-Worthy Content
This might come as no surprise, but if you create awesome content… it’s bound to get shared. Not only does good looking content get shared because it looks nice, but also because it looks like expert advice.
This can definitely help build trust in your name and help put you above competitors. Content also attracts new customers. Inbound leads can actually be better customers too since it creates a warm transition to your product. Let’s be real, content is just a good supplement to any marketing campaign. Oh, and good content looks great on your existing email campaigns!
More importantly, content serves as a resource for your customers and potential customer. It provides helpful information and should go beyond your specific product. Ideally, you want to create content that can be shared by everyone. By providing value to everyone (even those who aren’t direct customers), you’re doing yourself a huge favor.
This is why you may see a lot of businesses create and share white pages, email courses, ebooks, infographics, webinars, etc. It’s also the reason many businesses have their own blog. All these forms of content help build up the businesses reputation as an ‘expert’ in the field.
Example: A headphone eCommerce store decides to introduce a blog to their website. They create content that shows off how cool their headphones are. How functional they are. How sporty they can be. They also include a few articles on the benefits of their technology, and headphone technology in general. That content helps attract new people to their site as they are searching for information on headphones. Having some general information on the topic is so important because data and information are super helpful to all types of customers. Since those people ended up reading or looking at the brand’s blog, they are more likely to transition to the eCommerce store to further check out the product.
More reasons good content is important
- You are creating social proof – People love sharing things that make them look good. And nice looking, and informative articles and infographics tend to get shared. It makes the sharer look like an expert in the field, and it makes you look like the product all experts need.
- You create influencers – To go along with social proof. Your superfans have an easier time to share you when there is content to actually share. Influencers love showing off the brands they love.
Also, be sure your content is performing optimally according to Google’s search engine guidelines by conducting a content audit. Whether it is replacing dated articles with evergreen content or redirecting broken pages, running an audit will highlight opportunities to improve all the stuff living on your website
6. Start A Referral Program
An easy way to get the word out there about your business is to have your customers do the talking for you. An easy way of doing this is by having a referral program. There are tons of solutions out there too, so creating, implementing and running a program can be done pretty easily.
Whether you choose to use software or not, a referral program is an incredibly cost-effective way to market your business. By utilizing a referral program you are creating loyal customers while expanding your customer base. So you’re really hitting two birds with one stone. Plus, a formally implemented program makes asking for a referral a lot easier too.
The best part is, you don’t have to waste time on finding people to target or creating a ton of ads. You create a simple message and your customers do the talking for you. They also share you with the people they think will benefit the most from you, so you’ll be hitting the right target market regardless.
If you’ve already been getting a good amount of word of mouth by using other marketing strategies, a referral program can help amplify the results.
Getting your business out there is imperative to its success. It’s how your customers stay engaged with you, and it’s how new customers will find you. It is important to use a variety of marketing ideas and strategies for your business. And, honestly, it’s in your best interest to try a few things. Not everything will work, but once you find the winning combo you’re in for the win.
Megan Mosley is the marketing specialist at Referral Rock, who believes every business has the potential to increase their word of mouth. When she’s not working, she enjoys sipping on coffee and hanging out with her dog, Mollie.