Just keeping up with social media and staying in touch with your customers can consume precious time for a small business owner. If you are a one-person business owner you are probably busy full-time just doing the actual work of your business. Whether it's styling hair, teaching yoga or giving facials, the majority of your time is spent serving each customer in the moment.
As we know small business owners tend to "do it all", but when it comes to marketing, a little planning and expertise can go a long way to help a business or service stand out. Not knowing where to start and developing an actionable plan can seem overwhelming. But starting from scratch does not have to be complicated, expensive or intimidating.
Here's an example of what you can do to get started. These three action items will get you on your way to keeping in touch with your current customer base and cultivating new referral business:
Social Media: Create a Facebook or LinkedIn page, if you don't already have one already, and update, refresh or post something new just once a month. Do it on the same date each month to make it a habit. Whether you choose FaceBook or LinkedIn will depend on the kind of business you have. Remember this exposure is free so there is no excuse not to take advantage of it.
Email: Send three emails a year to your current and prospective customers. You can let your customers know when you will be out of town or inform them of a new service or product. The message is up to you. Choose the three months that you will send these emails and write it down. Make sure your subject line is short and compelling or your email may never get opened. Always respect customers who do not want to receive emails and take them off your mailing list. Sending emails is free and an easy way to reach out to your customers.
Postcards: Send three postcards a year to your mailing list. Choose three months when you think a postcard would be most effective. Select from the months you do not have an email scheduled. Postcards hang around longer than an email and they are not as easily deleted. You can ask for a friend referral or offer a special discount during your slowest month. There are out-of-pocket costs for printing and postage but you can find some very reasonable printing solutions online.
When crafting your postcard or email messages, focus on your objective and always include your social media page address and the other ways in which you want to be contacted.
Plan and track your marketing activities on an inexpensive calendar. Be sure to start by writing in your plan for the year. Which day each month will you refresh your social media presence? In which months will you send a postcard or an email? It's ok to modify the plan as you go in order to take advantage of opportunities or react to changes in your marketplace. Always work on the next month's activity two weeks before it's due. This will give you time to think clearly about your objective and proofread your messages carefully.
Just by establishing a simple social media presence and reaching out to your customers with postcards and emails six times a year you will already have a simple marketing plan that is manageable. For many small businesses this is a great start.