Marketing great Dan Kennedy tells the story of a very successful chiropractor who built a million dollar a year practice. Whenever anyone asked the chiropractor what method he used to attract 30, 50 or even 100 new patients a month, he had a very telling answer.
“I don’t know of ONE way to attract 100 new patients” he said, “but I do know 100 ways to get ONE new patient, so I use every one of them.”
How many ways do you have to attract new customers?
If your customer-attraction methods are limited to just a tried and true few, here are 5 Marketing Channels your small business may want to consider:
1. Email – Small business owners are learning what successful internet marketers have known for years. Email marketing is one of the best ways to promote your business. By email marketing we’re not talking about buying a list and sending SPAM. The most effective way to use email marketing is to make an informational offer, like a free report or a webinar, in order to collect the email addresses of prospects that have expressed an interest in the types of products or services that you sell. If you can provide great content to your prospects in an email or e-newsletter format, and build your list over time, you’ll have a great market for your wares.
There are some great email/e-newsletter platforms that are inexpensive and easy to use, including Constant Contact, iContact, Mail Chimp, Awebber and Campaigner.
2. Direct Mail – Many small business owners have made the mistake of discontinuing their direct mail campaigns in favor of social media marketing. While social media can help grow your business, it’s more of a platform to have conversations with your prospects (fans) so that they’ll feel good about your business and make a purchase sometime in the future. Direct mail is still the preferred channel for prospects who receive marketing from local businesses and business owners like direct mail because it generates sales and it’s measurable. And now with programs from the USPS like Every Door Direct Mail, direct mail is affordable too.
3. Search Engine Optimization – Lately some marketing consultants are telling small business owners that it’s not that important for their websites to achieve a high organic ranking. Don’t believe them. It is important however that you not rely solely on organic search rankings to promote your website and your business. If yours is a new business venture or you haven’t really focused on search engine optimization, your goal should be to build a better organic ranking over time, while utilizing some of the other channels that may have a more immediate impact.
4. Pay-Per-Click Ads –These are the paid ads that appear on the top and on the right side on Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.
PPC ads are a great way to compete against established companies that have achieved a high organic ranking in your business category, because your ad can get “first page placement” right beside the high-ranking organic ads.
Here are some PPC ad guidelines:
• Google and other search engines run promotions offering free ad spend (usually $50 – $100) when you open a Google AdWords account and spend your first $25.
• Your PPC ad should link to a separate landing page or squeeze page specifically designed to promote your offer. (If your PPC ad sends a prospect to your website they’ll get distracted by your other web pages and not focus on your offer.)
• If competitors in your industry are repeatedly running PPC ads it means their ads are working. It also means that you should be running PPC ads too.
• Small businesses owners on a tight budget can learn how to create great PPC ads by taking advantage of free on-line training.
• Google offers some great tutorials on their PPC AdWords program. However, you should know that Google’s AdWords default settings are designed to maximize clicks, so that Google can make more money. Check out independent and objective training sources for help on setting you your PPC campaigns.
• Don’t waste money by attracting visitors who are not legitimate prospects. Using broad keywords or keywords that have double meaning means you’ll have to pay for unwanted clicks.
• Start with a small budget and test your ads to make sure they’re working, before committing additional dollars.
• If you have a big PPC ad budget you’ll want to consider getting a professional to run your campaigns.
5. Mobile Marketing – 95% of people who have smart phones or tablets use them to find local businesses. That’s why it’s important to reach out to them by sending promotions, special offers and discount coupons, as well as product, service and special event announcements.
You can use push notifications, text messages and multimedia messages to target mobile customers and persuade them to come in to your store or buy online. However you need to obtain the user’s phone number and they must “opt in” to receive your messages.
Here are four platforms that can help you integrate the mobile marketing channel:
1. Foursquare – If your small business can be categorized as retail, food and beverage, nightlife, the arts or outdoor activities, then you should consider Foursquare. In fact if you do belong to one of those categories you’re probably already on Foursquare, the mobile marketing app where customers talk about their experiences with local businesses. Foursquare boasts that they currently have 50 million users and nearly 2 million business listings.
2. Mogreet Express – This text message service lets you create campaigns using text or video messages for mobile customers. You simply choose a one word name (keyword) for your campaign and Mogreet Express will partner your campaign name with a code. Then mobile users can text your keyword to the numeric code to take advantage of your offer.
3. Huzah Media – This multi-purpose mobile marketing platform refers to themselves as “the mobile app for small business”. It lets you manage customer loyalty programs, place mobile ads and even build your own app.
4. Scan Life – QR codes haven’t quite caught on as many predicted, but then again that’s only one of the ways to use Scan Life. This platform lets your customers get more information about your products and services by scanning QR codes, photos or ads. Once they do they’re taken to interactive web pages where they can watch videos or read more about your business.
Remember, your customers use various channels to get information and make purchases, so to reach more customers and maximize sales, your small business has got to have an effective presence on multiple channels.
Just make sure that before implementing any new marketing channel you consider the cost to implement, the investment of time for you and your staff and of course your ROI.