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You’ve got to stand out of the crowd to survive in business. No matter what business you are in there is always others doing the same sort of work, be it local, national, and even global. So you need to stand out. Once you have the customer on your website, you can wow them with your testimonials. If they have come to your office or store, then you’re 90% of the way there to closing the deal with them. The challenge is to click that link in the search results, to walk in the door and see what you have to offer.
We are going to cover a few basic ideas in getting noticed. Are they guaranteed to pull in hundreds of new potential customers, no. What they are is the things you should be thinking about when you are doing any form of marketing your business. They are also fairly low cost ways of making your business more visible without having to spend the time or money setting them up and constantly managing them.
Every business needs a name, but what does that name say about the business? Is it memorable or unique? Can people pronounce it or do they miss pronounce it due to it being a different language? Does it describe what you do? Are you inadvertently saying something rude in a different language? Let’s look at a few real world examples.
While every business must have a unique trading name there are situations where soundalikes can cause confusion, we occasionally get emails for Copy Expresso, a different copy shop. Adidas, we all know the brand, but how many of you pronounce it ‘Add-EE-Das’ when you should be saying ‘AH-dee-DAHS’ as it’s a German name. Clean As A Whistle is a clear descriptive name for a cleaning company (as long as you are aware of the English expression), while BT Trading Company trades something but it doesn’t say what. Just in the last couple of weeks there’s been news about a new shop retailing leather and fur products here in Wellington that chose the name ‘Huruhuru’ as it does translate into ‘fur’ in Maori, but it turns out that it is also used as a slang term for pubic hair in Maori. Quite a few terms which sound good for business names do have slang or ‘meme’ meanings that are offensive so it pays to have others tell you what they think it means when they hear it.
So what can you do as a business for your name? Our rule of thumb is make it short, descriptive, easy to say, and easily understood. And if you can’t make the name stand out, then your tag line can do the work instead.
Taglines are different to the ‘call to action’, (more about that later), where you can use a single short sentence to mark a point of difference to other businesses that work in the same space of the market. It can be descriptive, inspirational, abstract, or personal. What it needs to do is to mark you out from the rest. Here’s a few examples.
A family law firm might talk about explaining the law in plain language. Builders would speak of their years of experience. An accountancy firm might describe the areas of expertise they cover. You would choose a hair salon for the number of awards they have won.
What gets marked as the point of difference for the tagline is different for every business. It must be unique as it must make that business stand out from the competition. Like it or not you will never appeal to every potential client, but with the right tagline you will help draw in the ones you have the best chance of getting.
What is a Call to Action? While you apply the same logic and rules for picking it as you would your tagline, it’s role is different. Where your tagline marks your point of difference, the Call to Action tells the potential customer why they should contact you now. Consider it to be the ‘act now sales pitch’ part of your marketing. But what can you use as the Call to Action? That depends on the nature of the business.
Many businesses will offer a free consultation or assessment, for example a no obligation quote from a plumber. You could give away a gift, a free guide you can download off the website after you fill in an email address. A discounted first month trial is common for most subscription based services. Even dropping a flyer in a post box with notes about the services that would suit a house from looking at it from the street can be effective.
There’s no rule against you having more than one Call to Action too. Different options to suit the way each medium works or to suit different types of clients, as you can see from the previous examples. The main thing is that you’re offering things that encourage potential customers to reach out to you so get that one on one time with them to do the real selling. Which leads us on to the next tool.
Giving things away might seem an unjustifiable expense to market your business, especially if your profit margins are tight. The reality is that it’s a great way to reach out and get people looking at your business. It doesn’t have to be costly either if you pick the right ones. The truth is, that as a business every hour you’re operating it’s costing you money, and if you don’t have work for it, it makes it a loss for you. So why not make use of that money you’re going to spend by putting in to promoting your business. Here’s a few examples.
A free consultation for any labour focused specialist, i.e. a builder, is always a worthwhile investment. If they are not working the cost of that time is still ‘spent’, it’s just not earning them income. So it makes sense to use that already paid for time to do a consultation and at least have the potential to make money in the future.
Writing a blog or social media post explaining about some part of the industry is a great way to get your name out there as it can be shared out to others by your existing client base, get picked up in searches, and make you look even more knowledgeable to the client base. That’s why you are reading this article, for Google loves them and it helps push us up the search results.
Free samples or guides are another way of putting your business out there. If you sell merchandise, having samples that can be given away or sold at a very low price will always get people talking to you. If the business is more ‘white collar’ then a useful guide about a complex subject that they can download for free (and letting you harvest their contact details in the process) is very effective.
Most people tend to stop when they reach, phone, email, website, and maybe Facebook. But there are more ways to be found with just a little effort. It all depends on your business and who you’re targeting as clients but there are dozens of other ways of being noticed.
For example, YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google itself. Doing videos can be scary and could be time consuming when you look at a lot of what is out there, but it doesn’t have to be. If you have made up presentations / slideshows to show to prospective clients, then only a little extra work to turn that into a video (PowerPoint has conversion of a presentation to a video built into the software.) If you are a more hands on profession, even a quick video shot with your phone can be a great way of showing what you do. As we say in our article about Social Media Marketing, it doesn’t have to be perfect, you just have to be interesting.
Providing a more hands on service such as a tradesperson, domestic services, outdoors related fields, then sticking a card up at the local supermarkets noticeboard is a low cost simple way of being seen. Depending on the local manager you might even be allowed to put out leaflets, or a stack of business cards. Try other community based locations too: library’s, churches, community centers, etc. Don’t just drop stuff off and expect it to be okay, ask the person in charge and find out what is allowed.
If you want a more digital approach then consider using Landing Pages. Landing Pages are micro websites, normally a single page which is focused on a single product or service. Because it’s a separate domain/url most search engines will index that page separately from the main site. This increased the chances of ‘bubbling up’ to the top of the first page of search results on a given set of search terms. If you are already paying for a website, then adding the cost of a landing page and the domain for it is a fairly small addition on the annual web costs.
Nothing is more irrelevant than yesterday’s news, as the expression goes. In marketing, it’s even more the case. That’s why big companies often tweak their branding, try new styles of advertising, even do themed promotions which change on a monthly or seasonal basis. In a more practical sense, the less activity on a website or social media feed, the lower down on the search results they appear and the less likely people will click on them. While as a small business you don’t have the budget in time or money to compete with the big business and their big marketing teams creating new promotions and content, you can still keep things fresh and relevant to those looking for someone providing services like yours.
In our post on Social Media Marketing we recommended that you get something new on the feeds every couple of weeks. It only has to be a simple text post or a couple of photos, the main thing is that you are getting activity on it. Nothing turns people off a business faster than a dead or empty Facebook page. For most business’s websites we recommend you look at it every 3 months. Largely your website’s content won’t change, you just need to make sure the information on it is correct and up to date. If it does have testimonials and photos of work done, then don’t forget to update them from your social media account. Blog/videos can be done on a less frequent basis depending on the nature of your business. (We try to be weekly here at Copy Express as we find it useful for our customers to have up to date tips and advice.) If you give away items such as pdf guides, then you should review it annually to make sure it is up to date with current standards/regulations and also to tweak it based on your clients feedback.
Of course there are many more ideas but we don’t want to make this article too long. Some other things to consider are: localised promotions, cross promotions with compatible businesses, doing charity work, and so on. These we will cover in other articles. For now have a look at what you are doing to promote what you do to potential clients. If you feel that you are not doing enough, then Copy Express is here to help. We are happy to give quick advice if you need some tips, or you can book time with us for a consultation for more in depth help.