Top 3 Excuses Small Businesses use to Avoid Web Marketing

1. “I don’t have the time”. This is the number one reason most businesses say for the reason of not web marketing. We get it, you have a lot going on between dealing with the customers, managing inventory, etc – we get it. There are a lot of free tools to use to market your business online, but managing your web marketing is just like managing a car- you need to service it to keep it going. The biggest mistake is starting and not finishing. Tip: schedule yourself a block of time every day to web marketing. If you still can’t or don’t want to, then that is when you need to outsource. Web marketing isn’t a fad- its ongoing.

2. “It’s too expensive/Not in my budget”. Besides the time, most people say they don’t have it in their budgets to market on the web. Times are tough, we’re all feeling it, but it really is no excuse to neglect a tool that could drastically help your business. Between the computers and now mobile, people are on the web more than ever, and its only going to be more accessible. You need to know what your customers are saying about you. Brand monitoring is one of the biggest issues small businesses face when they web market their business. Tip: Move some money around. Maybe your budget on supplies is more than you need or put web marketing into your budget for the next quarter.

3. “No, I’m all set, my secretary/admin is handling it for me”. There are a couple of things wrong with this. One, pushing more work to your admin/secretary will not ensure that their regular workload will be accomplished. 95% of businesses that give their web marketing work to their admins, don’t pay them extra. In turn, that create your employee overwhelmed and unhappy. Two, your secretary/admin are most likely not knowledgeable with web marketing practices. They may end up hurting your online reputation instead of growing it. Tip: First, if you don’t have a marketing department, outsource it. If that absolutely cannot be done, pay for whoever it is you decide to put in charge of your web marketing to go to workshops, seminars, conferences etc to learn how to completely utilize web marketing.

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When to step up your marketing

Marketing seems to always be the first thing cut when budgets are shrunk. When business is slowing down is the time to really step up your marketing. Some businesses are seasonal, for example: ski shops, farms, ice cream shops and many others. How do you know when you should step it up? With our past experiences, here are some industries that should step up their marketing by seasons:

Fall

Accountants – with the winter coming and the New Year shortly after, people will be going tax crazy. Filing taxes are one of the most important things a person has to get done. Targeting a specific demographic needs to be done months prior to tax season, not weeks. To have effective marketing efforts, your campaigns should be starting in the Fall.

Bars– Although summer is perhaps one of the slowest seasons for bars, the winter is when it can be the busiest. Bars need to market themselves for the winter heavily in the Fall. With many options for people to go to, you want to make sure they are going to your bar. Showcase drink specials, events, contests, etc. to entice people to go in to your bar over the bar down the street.

Clothing stores/boutiques– For a small business competing against corporate giants, promoting the stores, products and customer service are going to be huge for the holiday shopping season approaching. Although there are people that always shop local, give those others a chance to come in before the holidays start to see your store and products. If you market in advance, it will be easier to target current customers to come back in for the shopping season.

Auto Dealers– the winter is coming and some people are already thinking snow. For a person who has an old car and looking to upgrade to a SUV, it is best to market to them before the snow comes. Showcasing inventory and customer service will get you ahead of the pack, especially if you are a small dealer.

Winter

Gyms/Health Centers– the time to start marketing/promoting is right at the beginning on November; the beginning of holiday season. You have Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years in a short span of time. You have people saying “I need to start living healthier…after the holidays” and the beginning of November is the time to start marketing to those people. You want to showcase your facility and make sure you make them feel comfortable being there, especially if it is their first time going to a gym.

Golf/Country Clubs– This is THE time to market your club. Spring comes with new registrations and people gearing up for the golf season. This is the time to start per swaying golfers to join your club. Although you can’t physically show off the course, you can promote the club and the benefits of being a member.

Landscaping companies– most landscaping companies also do snow removal, so they would be working during this season. The reason they made this list is because during the winter is when they need to start marketing/prospecting new clients for the spring and summer.

Colleges/Universities- During the winter is when the high school seniors make their final decisions on what school to choose. Most students apply to multiple schools and decide after from the ones that accepted them. What is your school doing to market to the high school seniors, and potentially, the juniors as well. During the winter, a lot of students also decide they want to transfer from their current college/university. This season is prime marketing season for colleges and universities.

Spring

Restaurants/Bars- Spring time is the busiest time for restaurants and bars. Winter is over and people are tired of being in their homes. So why should they market in the spring? For the summer! Summer time is the worse season for restaurants and bars. Vacations, BBQs, out door parties, holidays and many other reasons keep people at their homes during the summer or away from home. Start marketing your busy heavily in the spring to attract new customers to have them start coming in in the winter. Share specials, menu items, events and anything else your target demographic would enjoy at your restaurant/bar.

Ice Cream Shops- although ice cream can surely be enjoyed year round, summer is by far the busiest season. Start promoting flavors, toppings, upcoming specials and more starting in April. Start promoting samples, giveaways and contests to get new customers through the door in the springtime to have them come back during the summer.

Local Breweries– two works: beer gardens. Beer gardens are very popular during the end of spring and throughout the summer. It gives local breweries an amazing opportunity to target new customers. Beer gardens are normally held at other events, or it can also be done on its’ own. March is a perfect month to start promoting. You need to typically give people two weeks to a month prior to an event to get the word out and an estimated attendance number.

Salons/Spas- wedding season begins. From May to September, salons are booked for multiple parties almost every week. But what comes before the wedding? Bridal shows, jack and jills, engagement parties and more. Most women and the bridesmaids select a salon months and months prior to the big day. So what is your salon doing to market to them before they get married? Start marketing to the new brides to be as soon as March. Also, don’t forget, many couples become engaged from Christmas to Valentine’s Day. So women start thinking as soon as during the winter and decide in the springtime. 

Summer

Office Furniture/Supply Stores– come September, almost every business owner comes refreshed from the summer. Between days off, vacations, etc., the summer is the most laid back work season. In the fall, businesses look to update, stock up on products for the fall and winter, and if the summer went well, new furniture. Although office furniture and supply stores should definitely market heavily through out the whole year, they should give it that extra push during the summer.

Carpenters – Carpenters should definitely start marketing their efforts heavily during the summer. Come fall, many people want to update the interior of their homes for the upcoming holidays.

The above industries are just examples. There are many more companies. Now this by no means any company should market only during one season. You should be marketing your business 24/7. But there are certain seasons that you do need to give your business an extra marketing push. What industries do you think need to market more during a specific season? Let us know and comment below.

Hiring a marketing firm?

Hiring a marketing firm is a serious business decision that should involve a critical look at your business right now and what it will look like in the coming years. You need to know what is involved, with your business and the marketing firm’s, when you decide to hire a marketing firm, and what your expectations are when they are engaged. Don’t hire a marketing firm without doing your own research first.

The main objective of the marketing firm is to bring your product(s) or service(s) to market. Marketing research, campaigns, advertising, PR work, social media, branding, R & D, trade shows, public sampling and education and other avenues all fall under the umbrella of marketing. Most of this you should already be doing in your business.

We comprised a list of three things to consider when looking to hire a marketing firm:

  1. Expectations. You need to know what your expectations are as far as what you would like to gain from hiring a marketing team
  2. Commitment. Short term? Long term? You can generally hire full- or part-time marketing resources by the hour, week or month without committing to long-term employment. This allows you to cover temporary holes (i.e. maternity leave) or limited workload surges (i.e. a new product launch) without affecting headcount.
  3. Why you should:
    1. Fresh perspective. Hiring an outside marketer can bring new ideas to the table that you may never think of because of your limited knowledge
    2. Small staffs that may not specialize in effective marketing plans.
    3. Save costs. Instead of hiring a full time marketing professional, hiring a marketing firm to handle your marketing can save you money on insurance, worker’s comp and more.

Any questions regarding this article, contact us at info@creativestrategyagency.com

Is your marketing material professional?

You are given little opportunity to convince your target demographic the value your product(s)/service(s) hold. If you can’t convince your target clients to read your promotional material, marketing your business will be hard. Is it clean, catchy and uncluttered?

Here are a three things to remember when you create/recreate your marketing material:

Professionalism. If your material doesn’t look professional, your clients will assume that you don’t take your business seriously. Believe it or not, we live in a superficial world where first impressions mean everything. They will also assume that you can’t provide quality products and services.

Clean, simple, and to the point. Some businesses try to get away with fitting all the information into one brochure to save on expenses. The more text you have and the smaller the text it, your brochure is more likely going to be pushed aside or even thrown away. If your material is simple, easy to follow, then there is more chance that your prospects will take the time to read it. Don’t clutter your material with photos, symbols, logos, etc. everywhere. Remember people have short attention spans. Keep it clean, simple and to the point.

Consistency. Is all your print material consistent? Make sure you use a consistent theme, with complimentary colours that are easy on the eye. If you have multiple print material with multiple themes, it gives the appearance of being unorganized and unprofessional.

Determining your marketing budget

marketing budget, marketing, budgetDetermining your marketing/advertising budget is perhaps one of the hardest things to determine for your business. As marketers, we want to create affordable services to our target industries to satisfy the customer as well as make profit for the business. But some businesses don’t have a big budget like others, and get left behind. For instance, we look at the budget and turn it in a way where both businesses are happy.

So how do you determine how much you can spend? There are many ways to determine how figure out your budget. In this post, we will cover a three different ways you can determine a more suitable budget for marketing for your business.

1. Fixed percentage

A. Percentage of revenue

    • taking a fixed percentage of your revenues and allocate that amount for marketing (basically decide on a certain percentange you do want to spend on marketing for your business).
      • For smaller businesses, the most common used numbers are 20%
      • For small/medium sized businesses, the most common used numbers are 5-10%
      • For large businesses, the most common numbers are between 2-5%
    • Picking the percentage that works best for you will probably take some trial and error

B. Percentage of net sales

Just like taking a percentage of revenues, this avenue will help determine your marketing budget as a fraction of your net sales. This method is a little bit less aggressive than the last method, since you exclude expenses from your calculations. And just like the percentage of revenue, this method will also take some trial and error if you can’t seem to find the right numbers.

2. Matching Competitors

Another method to create a marketing budget is to analyze and estimate what the competition is spending and copy them. This can work, but this method also assumes that the competitors are spending the right amount, and that their marketing efforts are in fact working. When using this method, the revenue of a business (in your industry) should still be taken into account.

3. The Dollar Approach

There are actually many businesses that simply set a flat dollar amount for their marketing budget. It can be particularly useful for small businesses, they can base marketing budgets on what they think the company can afford instead of the company’s sales.

Picking a flat rate is more effective for companies looking at a one-time expense, like a public relations marketing, trade show or advertisement, and not a long range marketing plan.

There are numerous other ways to determine your marketing budget, but the first thing you need if you don’t have one is a marketing plan. It ensures you spend only on the programs that make sense for your business, and not the “let’s try this” method. Too many times small businesses work without a marketing plan and spend money on marketing efforts that have absolutely no return on investment.

The creative search for an intern!

With the move to a bigger office at Open Square in Holyoke, MA, we are looking to fill a Social Media/Marketing internship we have available.

Responsibilities include:

1. assist in monitoring of social media pages for clients
2. assist in monitoring social media pages for the agency
3. content development
4. monitor media mentions about our clients and our agency through RSS feeds, social bookmarking sites, Google Alerts and other social media monitoring sites.
5. create appropriate schedules for content and engaging users

Requirements:
1. Must be a junior or senior at a college/university
2. creative, think outside the box, type of person
3. familiar with most social media platforms: Facebook Pages, Twitter, YouTube, Blogging, etc.
4. ability to work 10-15 hours per week.
5. Must be able to attend social networking events

This is an unpaid internship but will sign for college credit. We are a very interactive, on the go agency. We are looking for an intern who is a quick thinker, does not need to be told what to do twice, who is not shy and is willing to take on more responsibilities if needed.

Only serious inquires. Please send resume and cover letter to: info@creativestrategyagency.com

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