Instructor Note: Talk to clients about the benefits of working with SCORE. Follow the slide and point out the success stories presented in their workbooks. This is also your opportunity to talk about your local chapter and all that you offer. Talk about community partnerships and what clients can expect from their relationship with SCORE once they start their business. Provide them with the website URL for your chapter.
Simple Steps for Growing Your Business workshops are focused on the key “functional” areas of your business. Whether you are large enough to have departments that lead these functions or if you have a few employees that manage and direct all of the activities, SCORE offers education to help you learn where there are areas in your business that can be improved to get better business performance. When trying to attract customers, businesses use marketing. Sales follow and customer interaction with the company’s customer service process, for placing sales orders or future service after the sale begins. It is then up to Operations to acquire or make products and then deliver the products or services to the customer. Human resources deals with employees in all areas of the company assuring that the many facets of attracting and keeping good employees is effective for the company. Finance insures that all financially related transactions, internal to the company or with external organizations are recorded and reflected properly for business performance analysis and required government filings.It is the successful and efficient integration of all of the business functions that the business owners and management must manage and direct. REMEMBER: Customers are impacted by ALL FUNCTIONS of your business. Owners/managers are responsible for business performance in all areas.
Instructor Note: Conduct brief introductions with students—a maximum of one minute each. Remind students that throughout the entire series, they will have many opportunities to interact and get to know each other.Estimated Time: 25 minutes
In this session we’ll talk about how to identify goals and evaluation the various options that exist to help you meet those goals. This will include using social media as well as traditional marketing tools. We’ll end with a discussion of the importance of retaining customers.
The next section is called Identify Your Marketing Goals.
As a first step in identifying your marketing goals, assess whether your business’s needs have changed since you started out. What worked for you in the early stages of business may not be working for you today. Here are some areas of your business that may have changed, requiring new marketing strategies:Target customers: Have your target customers changed? Are you reaching out to new demographic (age, sex, race, income) or new regions (customers in a different part of the country or even globally?) If you sell B2B, perhaps you are targeting customers in new industries. If your target market has changed, you probably need to update your marketing tactics to reach this new audience.Product/service: Have you added new products or services? If you have added new products to your line, you need to make sure you’re marketing them adequately. Perhaps you used to sell services only and now you’ve added products Price: Has your business’s price point changed? Perhaps you’ve raised your price and shifted from a mass market audience to an upscale, luxury niche. If so, your marketing needs to reflect your current price point.Budget: Has your marketing budget grown since your business started? Maybe you are spending less on marketing than you should be. Conversely, if your budget for marketing is tight, you need to figure out how to maximize your dollars. Or perhaps your marketing dollars have shifted over time so you are spending more in one area than you used to. You need to reassess spending and focus on the marketing expenditures that deliver the best return on investment. Sales channel: Have you gone from a business-to-consumer company to a B-to-B (business to business) focus? Have you shifted from retail to wholesale? Again, changes in the sales channel require revising your marketing plan.
If your business needs have changed, you will want to reevaluate your target market by doing market research. Here is what you need to know:Size: How big is the target market? Is it growing or shrinking?Income level: If you are targeting consumers, what is their average income?Sales: If you are targeting business customers, what are their average sales?Purchasing habits: More important than income level or company sales, what are the spending habits of your target customers? How much do they spend on your type of product or service? Demographics: For consumers, age, race, sex, marital status, whether they have children and their stage in life (parents, empty-nesters, college students) are all aspects of demographics. For business to business sales, you’ll want to know factors such as the average company size, years in business, industry, product/service sold and number of employees. Purchasing channels: How do your target customers prefer to buy your type of products and services? Online? In a store? By phone? Through a salesperson? Geographic location: Are your target customers moving to new regions or are you expanding to new regions? Find out where your target market is growing and where it is shrinking.
We’ve listed some market data sources you can use in doing market research. Secondary research uses research compiled by other sources like the government or market research companies. Whether you are selling BtoC or BtoB, you can get lots of valuable data on both consumers and businesses from trade associations and from the government. We list several sources of Census data here.If you are selling BtoB, Harris Infosource and Hoover’s provide information on businesses in a range of industries. ThomasNet provides data on manufacturing companies.
Primary research is when you directly gather data from your target customers. This can be done several ways:Customer surveys: Use tools such as SurveyMonkey or Zoomerang to create online surveys your customers can complete. Social media: Get ongoing feedback from your customers via Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. All of these tools allow you to have conversations, ask questions or post informal surveys to users in your circle. Focus groups: Invite some key customers or target customers in to your business and have an informal focus group to find out what type of marketing methods they respond to.Conversations: As an existing business owner you have an advantage over the startup in that you already have customers. Keep in touch with your customers by talking to them regularly, asking questions and listening. You’ll be able to gauge what they are interested in, dissatisfied with or want more of.
Estimated Time: 10 minutes
Doing market research is a key step in understanding your market share. Market share is the portion of your target market that you actually obtain.Market share can be measured based on the dollar amount of revenue your company makes, divided by the total dollar amount of all sales of that particular product or service. Or it can be measured as the amount of products or services your company sells (unit sales volume), divided by the total unit sales volume of that particular product or service.For instance, suppose you sell auto detailing services to customers in four local cities. Determine the total revenues from auto detailing services in those cities (using the market research resources mentioned earlier). Then divide your total revenues by that amount to come up with your market share.You can express your market share in dollars, units or percentages. For instance, in the example above, if you are one of only a few auto detailers in your area, you might have 50 percent of the market share. On the other hand, if you are in a more competitive industry or sell to a wider area, you might have a smaller market share.Measuring your market share on a regular basis shows you where your company stands in relation to competitors. If your market share is declining, you may need to adjust your marketing strategy.
Whether you have a new product or are differentiating your business by other means, consider whether your pricing is aligned with your point of differentiation and with your brand. Your prices must be high enough to cover your costs and make a profit. When you are entering a new market or adding new marketing strategies, it may be time to change your pricing as well. Your market research will help you learn if customers might be willing to pay a higher price, which will increase your profit margins.
Many business owners confuse branding with marketing, but the two are not the same. Creating your brand comes first; marketing spreads your brand message.Think of your brand as the “personality” of your business. Is it friendly? Serious? Fun? Cutting-edge? Your image, logo and positioning convey your brand. Ask yourself whether your brand is clear. It may need adjusting to keep up with changes to your company’s product, service, focus or target customer. Or perhaps you never really branded your business when you started up – lots of small companies don’t.To create your brand, follow three steps:Identify your unique selling proposition. Ask yourself: What product or service am I offering? What category am I competing in? What are my core competencies? Answering these questions helps you figure out what need you fill in the marketplace that no one else is filling. What makes your business stand out from the rest? Your brand must be clearly differentiated to be memorable.2. Understand your target customers. Market research, which we’ll talk about next, will help you do that. You need to understand who your target market is and what they want.3. Communicate your brand. Create a brand message that is short and memorable. You should be able to describe your brand in one paragraph, but also boil it down to one sentence and even to a tagline. The goal is to capture the essence of your business.
Estimated Time: 15 minutes
Once your brand is clearly focused, look at the marketing methods your competitors are using to establish their brands. Do a competitive analysis of the marketing methods used by your competitors. Start with your local competitors. You can also get ideas by observing how competitors outside your geographic area market their businesses or how they market themselves online.
The next section looks at Evaluation Your Business.
No matter what type of marketing tool you are using, it’s crucial to assess the ROI.Set quantifiable goals for each marketing tool you use. This could be a dollar figure or other result such as number of new leads, number of new customers, number of times your business is mentioned in the media, or number of tweets about your business.Measure your results. Marketing campaigns do take time to pay off. Monitor your results quarterly and every 6 to 12 months, assess your overall ROI and adjust your marketing strategy accordingly. Track which marketing efforts bring in the most and least sales. Also do regular surveys of customers to find out which marketing methods attracted them to visit your business or to make a purchase.
Now that we’ve looked at some of the changes you may need to make to your brand and your marketing message, we’ll go over your marketing options.
As we go through the information, keep these questions in mind. We will complete the Marketing Strategies Assessment worksheet near the end of the session.
There are many marketing methods and tools to choose from, depending on your needs and resources.
Next we’ll cover Marketing Collateral.
Today the website is most companies’ primary marketing tool. But there are other more traditional marketing materials that might need a makeover, including your logo, signage, business cards, brochures and fliers.Do they still reflect your business’s brand and image?Has your business’s focus changed so the current marketing materials are no longer fully conveying what you do?Do your visuals look outdated? Maybe it’s time for new colors or designs.
There are lots of places you can get low-cost graphic design and marketing materials. Some sites to check out are listed here. Inkzoo, LogoWorks, MarketSplash, and VistaPrint all offer low-cost options for using design templates or having professionals design custom graphics for you including logos, business cards and other marketing tools.CrowdSPRING and 99Designs are sites where you post your project and designers compete to create it for the lowest cost.If you are seeking a copywriter or more advanced graphic designer to help you create brochures or fliers, Elance.com and Guru.com are good places to find freelancers. You can also ask other business owners for recommendations.
Now let’s discuss Advertising.
To choose the right offline advertising method, you need to know who your target customers are and where they are. This is information you gathered from your market research earlier. Each media outlet will have demographic information about its readers or viewers. Get this information and you’ll be able to see if a particular magazine’s readers or radio show’s listeners fit your target customer profile. For instance, if your target customer is mothers of young children who have a household income of $50K or more, each outlet will be able to tell you if that demographic makes up a significant portion of their audience. For a small company, the key to successful advertising is targeting it narrowly. If your customers are mostly local, you probably don’t want to advertise in a major national magazine. But you might want to advertise in a regional or city publication, or a community publication such as a church bulletin or neighborhood newsletter. Again, the key is finding out who their target readers are.
There are several options for advertising online.One way that doesn’t cost anything is doing a link exchange with a site that has complementary visitors to yours. Offer to post a link to (or ad for) their site in exchange for their posting a link to (or ad for) yours. This can be a great way for small businesses to co-market each other without spending money on advertising. You can also advertise in e-mail newsletters that reach your target market. For instance, if you sell baby products you could take out ads in email newsletters targeting mothers or pregnant women.PPC or pay-per-click advertising is a form of advertising where you pay for the ad only when it is clicked on. If you’re advertising on a search engine like Google or Bing, you usually have to “bid” on the keywords you want to appear for. When a user searches for those key words, your ad pops up. Using the same example, a baby products company might buy keywords “baby clothes.” PPC can get expensive since popular keywords can often cost several dollars per click. Facebook offers similar PPC ads but instead of being served up to users based on keywords, they appear based on demographics. If you buy an ad targeting women under 35 with newborn babies, your ad will pop up on those users’ sites. Banner ads: Consider running banner ads on websites that reach your target audience. The baby products company could take ads on parenting websites or other websites frequented by moms.Instructor Note: IF SCORE’s e-Business Now Workshop series, or a similar one, is available in your chapter, recommend this series, which includes a workshop that can help you set your online advertising goals, choose the best ad venues for you and achieve your advertising goals. If NOT available, recommend clients meet with SCORE Mentors one-on-one for further help or visit www.e-businessnow.org.
Next we’ll cover Public Relations.
If you’re already marketing and advertising your business, you might ask why you need PR. Public relations is different from advertising but is an equally or even more important tool for a small business owner on a budget. PR is free (if you write your own press releases, it costs nothing except your time and effort). And, if your PR efforts succeed and you are mentioned in a publication or on a blog or website, you get something advertising can’t give: an implied third-party endorsement of your business by an impartial source. Customers trust what they read in publications or online far more than they trust ads, so the results of PR can really pay off.
Press releases follow a standardized format, including a headline; a short summary; a dateline; the “body” or main part of the release; the “About” section, also called boilerplate, that explains what your company does; and “Contact” information, which tells who and how to contact at your business for more information. The body of your release is tailored to grab reporters’ attention by making them want to read on. Start with the most important information.Your release may need to be tailored for different news outlets. For instance, if you’re a toy wholesaler with a release about a new product in your line, you might want to write one type of release for industry publications, and another for parenting magazines. Be sure your release includes hyperlinks to your website or other important sites. It’s a good idea to have a section on your website called “Pressroom” or “Media” where readers can find all your company’s press releases. Your site should also have an “About” page that tells the story behind your business, introduces you and your key managers, and explains how to contact you.PR Newswire’s PR Toolkit is a good resource to guide you through the steps.
Once your release is written it’s time to target specific publications and members of the media. In most cases you’ll be e-mailing your release and you can find the reporters’ or bloggers’ emails on the publication’s site, but you can also connect with reporters using social media tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. This is also a great way to see what kinds of stories they’re working on and whether your release will be relevant to them. Always e-mail your release to a person, not a general e-mail address. Research the kinds of stories that person normally publishes and tailor your press release towards that audience. Remember, you have to show how that person will benefit from running your story. Be sure your release includes links to your website.Always follow up, either by e-mail, phone or both. Be brief but polite and ask if there’s any more information you can provide. In addition to targeting specific reporters, you should also send releases via a free press release service. These services release your releases to all the major search engines. Most likely, PRLog.org (www.prlog.org); other popular sites are PR.com (www.pr.com) and FreePressRelease.com (www.free-press-release.com). These sites distribute your press releases to the major search engines for free. (Bonus: They also have lots of sample press releases you can look at when writing yours.)
Estimated Time: 5 minutes
Here are some PR contacts in our area.
The next section is Online Marketing.
Even if you don’t sell online, you need a business website. For a small investment, a website:creates awareness of your business. Today a website is an essential marketing tool, just like business cards or a brochure. helps customers find you. These days most customers go online first when searching for any type of business. If your company doesn’t come up in search results you’ll lose out. makes your business credible. A business without a website is less credible to consumers. drives sales. Many customers like to research purchases online. They may make their entire purchasing decision based on what they see on your website. improve customer service. If your website explains how to contact you or has features such as live chat or e-mail, customers can use it to get in touch with you and answer their questions or deal with concerns. creates an additional sales channel. Adding a website to your retail store, for instance, can open up a whole new avenue for selling. gives your local business national and even global reach.can give you ecommerce capabilities, adding up a whole new sales channel for your business.If you don’t have a website, getting a basic website is simple and affordable.If you do have a website, you need to assess how well it’s working for you and what it can do better.
1. Determine your website goals. What do you need your site to do? Think back to the benefits we just discussed. Your goals may include e-commerce, customer service, branding and more. 2. Determine how your website can support your overall business strategy. 3. Determine how your website fits into your overall marketing strategy. 4. As you develop your site or redesign your existing site, keep these development requirements in mind. Ease of use: Is the site simple to navigate? Does it load quickly? Is it easy to understand? Sales: Does the site clearly drive visitors to take action? Can customers understand your products or services from the information on the site, or do you get lots of phone calls asking about things that should be explained online? Is the checkout process simple? Customer service: if your site includes components such as ways for customers to contact you by email or phone, FAQs or complaint forms, are these working as customer service tools? Branding: Does the site convey your current brand message, or is it outdated? Does your site reflect all that your business does and all the markets it serves, or are key services, products and target customers missing? Do site graphics look modern or dated? Search : Does your site come up in the top of search engine results? Is your site optimized for search engines with the use of keywords? If you’re not ranking well in searches the site may need optimization.
Begin by choosing a domain name for your site. This is the www.yourbusiness.com address that users type in when they want to find your site. Keep it short and simple so it’s easy to remember and type, but also tie it into your business. If your business has a very long name, for instance, you might want to use an acronym. Do a search at a domain name registrar such as GoDaddy.com to see if the name you want is available. Buying a domain name costs about $10 annually.You’ll also need a web hosting service, which means the company whose servers will host your site. Web hosting services cost as little as $20 a month. Factors to consider when assessing a web host include uptime (which measures the percentage of time the site is up as opposed to “down” or not working), what type of support the host offers, whether you will have a dedicated server (just for your business) or share with other companies, and how regularly the host backs up your data. Finally you’ll need someone to create your website. This can be someone in-house if you or an employee has the technical knowledge to do so, or you can hire an outside website designer. However, most small businesses these days use package options. A range of companies provide these options, which include a domain name, hosting services and templates that let you design your own website with help from the company’s design team. Godaddy.com, imsmb.com, networksolutions.com and web.com are a few of the companies that offer all-in-one web design solutions.
A good website is:User-focused. Based on your market research you know what motivates your target customer. Your website should provide information and tools to help your user achieve his or her goals, whether that’s finding directions to your business, buying something online or researching your company.Consistent with your marketing message. The colors, logos, fonts and images on your website, as well as the overall tone and feeling, should be consistent with your other marketing materials. For instance, if you own a toy company and your marketing materials and packaging have bright, primary colors and clean lines, your website should follow suit.Simple to navigate. Users should easily be able to find their way from place to place on the site. It should take no more than a few “clicks” to get to any given point. Use tabs, buttons and navigation buttons on the top, bottom, right and left sides to direct users. Keep your most important material at the top of the site so users don’t have to page down.Direct users to take action. Like your advertising materials, your website should include a call to action on each page. Whether you want users to call, click, register or buy, it should be clear on each page of the site what actions users should take. Most business owners need help developing a Web strategy and site. Instructor Note: IF SCORE’s e-Business Now Workshop series, or a similar one, is available in your chapter, recommend this series, which includes a workshop that can help you learn how to set up a website. If NOT available, recommend clients meet with SCORE Mentors one-on-one for further help or visit www.e-businessnow.org.
When Internet users perform a search, different types of results show up. Paid search results are those that are set off as advertising—in a Google search, for instance, these are highlighted at the top of the results and set off in the right side. Natural or “organic” results are those that show up in the main body of the search results. Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your site so it comes up higher in organic search results. This drives traffic to your site.To optimize your site, create good content that uses keywords your customers might use when searching for your business online. For instance, if you own an Italian restaurant in New York City, you might want to use keywords like Italian restaurant, pizza restaurant, new york city pizza, new york city Italian restaurant.Measure your results to see if your SEO efforts are working.
Web analytics means measuring information about visitors’ actions on your website. All of the primary search engines (Bing, Google and Yahoo) provide free analytics tools you can use to capture and measure data. Here is some data Web analytics can measure: Number of site visitors Individual page impressionsAverage visit lengthMost/least popular pages Most popular site entry pagesWhere users come from (sites or search engine phrases)Number of inquiries, leads or sales generatedConversion ratesTotal sales volume onlineAverage purchase per online customerUse analytics to determine if your site is achieving your goals.
Sending e-mail to a customer list involves many legal regulations. The CAN-SPAM Act is intended to protect consumers from unwanted e-mail and you need to comply.You must identify who the e-mail is from.The e-mail must be identified as an ad.The e-mail must contain a physical address of your business.Subject lines cannot be deceptive; they must relate to the subject of the e-mail and to your business.You must provide opt-out links that are easy to find for customers who want to stop getting the newsletters or e-mails.Any unsubscribe requests must be honored within 10 days.You can get full information about complying with legal issues at the FTC Website’s CAN-SPAM section. You may hear talk about “single opt-in” vs. “double opt-in” email newsletter subscriptions. E-mail addresses on a single opt-in list are not confirmed. Someone just signs that e-mail up for the newsletter (opts in). It’s preferable to use a double opt-in system. Before sending your newsletter, send an e-mail to the list requesting confirmation and requiring the e-mail address owner to confirm 1) that he or she owns that address 2) that the address is current and 3) that he or she wants to subscribe.Using an e-mail service simplifies your efforts. Keep in mind that although reputable e-mail services do follow all current regulations required by CAN-SPAM, you are still ultimately responsible for the content and manner of delivery of your newsletter. We’ve listed some good e-mail services here. Instructor Note: IF SCORE’s e-Business Now Workshop series, or a similar one, is available in your chapter, recommend this series, which includes a workshop that that covers e-mail marketing in depth. If NOT available, recommend clients meet with SCORE Mentors one-on-one for further help or visit www.e-businessnow.org.
Mobile marketing is one of the fastest growing marketing methods. Currently 91 percent of the U.S. population owns a mobile phone, and more than one-fourth of those are smartphones. Increasingly, your customers are using phones to do things like:Look up local businessesSearch for prices and deals on productsBuy products Mobile marketing is especially useful for local businesses such as retailers, restaurants, bars and local service businesses. Mobile marketing enables you to reach out to local customers as they are near your store or location and target them with special offers or deals. *(Source: CTIA)**(Source: ComScore)
This slide explains the 5 primary marketing methods in use today:SMS or MMS marketing: Advertisers send text (SMS) or picture (MMS) messages directly to customers, and customers can respond immediately. Research has shown SMS inspires a positive and immediate response from receivers—especially if it’s an early announcement of a sale, for example.Mobile banner advertising: This involves buying banner space on a site that is mobile-device-ready.Mobile local search: Having your business’s information pop up when someone is looking for a local business is invaluable when it comes to instant gratification for both you and your customer.Mobile apps: Many companies have created their own mobile applications to promote their businesses. Take a look at the many apps out there and see if you can come up with one for your business. Mobile paid search: This is similar to regular paid search, but since space on mobile devices is limited, only the top four paid results will show up on a single screen.Finally, to make sure your website is mobile-friendly, go to mobiReady.com to see how your site will look on a mobile device, then make changes accordingly.
Ratings and review sites, of which Yelp!.com might be the best known, are becoming increasingly important as consumers share more information about businesses they patronize. Recent research has shown that consumers trust reviews and ratings from other consumers more than they trust advertising or public relations messages from companies. In addition, general search sites like Google and Yahoo! are increasingly aggregating information from review sites in their search results. That means even users who aren’t specifically looking for reviews of your business are likely to come across them by accident when they do an Internet search. Review and rating sites are going to become more and more important. Here are some of the “big names” in ratings and reviews. In addition to these specific sites, there may be niche sites for your industry, local region, or city that you need to be on. For instance, beer lovers go on BeerAdvocate.com to read about beers and breweries. Travelers visit TripAdvisor.com to find hotel and restaurant ratings.
Ratings and review sites are especially important for businesses that draw on local customers (such as restaurants, bars and retailers), service businesses (such as car repair facilities or hair salons) and travel-related businesses (such as hotels or tour operators). Many review sites put up bare-bones information about local businesses, such as company name, address, phone number, hours and website. So if you do a search, you may find your business already listed. To take the next step, “Claim” your listing and you can optimize it with added features such as:Photos of your business, employees or productsDetailed descriptions of your businessMenus Maps and directionsCoupons and special offersIn addition to these features that you can offer to provide potential customers more detail about your business, most sites also offer free tracking and analytics tools that can show you where users come from and what they do after reading a review. These features are free on most sites, but sometimes there is a small fee for extras such as premium listings (which means your business shows up at the top of search results). Spend some time on each site and see what features it offers and what will be useful for your business.
Monitor your accounts: Track what is being said about your business on rating and review sites. You can do this by setting up a free online alert (such as a Google alert) to alert you when ever you, your company, or your product/ service are mentioned. This won’t catch all reviews, so it’s worth visiting the major review and rating sites once a day to monitor reviews. Or, you can sign up for services such as Trackur Premium or Ultimate which will add the review site’s RSS feed to your dashboard. Respond to negative reviews: Managing your online reputation is very important. Never let negative reviews sit without a response. At the same time, don’t respond defensively or negatively. Keep in mind that customers are people, they are paying you and what you write is being read not only by them, but by other customers and potential customers. Yelp!’s website offers some good tips on writing responses to negative reviews at http://www.yelp.com/business/review_response. Convert users to buyers: Positive reviews can help you make sales. You can use an RSS feed to put reviews on your business’s website. Create a page for reviews that also has a call to action, special offers or deals to encourage viewers to buy. Learn from reviews: Entrepreneurs used to have to do expensive surveys, focus groups or ask customers for testimonials in order to get the type of feedback they can now get for free thanks to review and ratings sites. So take advantage of this data. Most review sites have free analytics tools you can use to assess what offers work best, where the people reviewing your business come from, where the users come from and which readers are most likely to convert to customers. You can also learn from the reviews themselves. They will alert you to what customers like/want more of, what they don’t like and what is a problem in your business that you need to address. Instructor Note: Ask if anyone in class has used ratings and review sites for their business. If so, ask if they have any tips or suggestions to share. Spend about 5 minutes discussing.
Now we’ll discuss Social Media.
Social media can be an effective way to engage with customers where they want to be.Before getting started, create a list of your goals for social media. What do you hope to achieve? The slide shows some of the things you can accomplish with social media. Next we’ll take a look at some of the most popular social media sites. *(Source: Radicati Group)
Estimated Time: 20 minutes.Instructor Note: If possible, split the group into B2B and B2C so that each group can discuss why the various social media sites might or might not be good for them, based on their needs.
Each social media site offers free analytics tools. Take advantage of these to learn how to improve and manage your results.Each site also offers business-specific tools for business users. Explore and take advantage of these. We’ve also listed several tools that help you manage your social media accounts, save time, and learn more about social media. Twitter: Cotweet.com, SocialOomph.com and Tweetdeck.com all make it easier to manage your business’s Twitter activity.Hootsuite.com, NutshellMail.com and SproutSocial.com enable you to collaborate, manage multiple social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and measure your results.The world of social media changes fast. Keep up with the news and trends at Mashable.com, where you’ll find lots of useful articles, tips and resources.
It’s often pointed out that social media is free. However, it does cost you something—time. As you develop your social media marketing plan, keep time commitments in mind.How much time can you commit to each social media site?Who on your team will be responsible for updates? For maximum effectiveness, someone needs to take ownership of each aspect of social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)For social media to be effective, frequent changes are required and new content must be posted regularly.Keep in mind there is also a learning curve for learning to use each social media tool, and for keeping up with the frequent changes to how each works and what features are offered.Last but not least, you need to understand what is appropriate for each type of social media. One size does not fit all, and a post that might get a great response on Facebook would not necessarily work on Twitter or LinkedIn.
The next section is Event Marketing.
Hosting an event as a marketing tool works best for companies that rely on a local customer base.1) Set goals for the event. Are you looking to – attract new customers? Build relationships with current customers? Get publicity? Thank your customers?2) Make the event relevant to both your business and your goals. For instance, if you own a coffeehouse you could have a special coffee tasting event. If you own an accounting business, you could hold a free seminar for small business owners about year-end tax planning. If you own a children’s clothing store, hold a Cutest Kid contest where kids come in to get their picture taken and the winner gets to appear in your promotional materials. 3) Plan what you will need for your event including refreshments, food, space, seating, photography or video and any permits or licenses depending on the scope of the event. 4) Seek partners or sponsors to co-host the event with you, such as a complementary business in your area, or one of your vendors or suppliers. This helps cut the cost and share the workload.5) Invite attendees. Depending on the type of event, this can be formal invitations (such as for a dinner you are hosting for clients) or by taking out ads or passing out fliers to let people in the community know about the event.6) Plan promotions at the event such as marketing materials (brochures, business cards), coupons or discounts, promotional product giveaways.7) Publicize the event to the local media. Send out press releases both before and after the event. Also use social media, e-mail and your website to promote the event. 8) Collect customer data. Offer customers something of value in return for their data. For instance, a promotional premium baseball cap if they give you their email address. Or have them provide data to sign up for the free seminar or service that you’re offering. You can also hold a drawing and collect business cards. The point is to generate some new leads.9) Follow up. This is the crucial step to getting the benefit from your event. Use the contact data you gather to follow up after the event with a special offer such as a discount, free consultation or asking customer to sign up for your email newsletter. 10) Of course, don’t forget to thank attendees for coming as part of your follow-up. Whether it’s a sponsored event or your own event, follow-up is key to success. Once you’ve gathered contact data from customers, follow up within the next two weeks with additional information about your company, such as a special offer, discount coupon or e-mail newsletter.
If you don’t want to hold your own event, another good option is sponsoring an event. This can be a good way to get involved without having to put on an event.Just as with hosting, you need to know your goals for the event before you commit. Consider what type of event matches with your business’s offerings and your goals. Sponsorship is a good tool for a business that gets most of its customers from the local community. There are many options including:Sports teamsCharity eventsSchoolsFairs such as health fairs or safety fairs10K racesBefore you affiliate with an event, investigate the organizer. Find out how prior events have gone. Does the organization have a good reputation? Do things run smoothly? You don’t want to affiliate with an event that is poorly run.Know the expectations for the event. What are you expected to provide? Money? Products for giveaway? Manning a booth? Giving a speech?Know what you will get out of the event. Will your business name be promoted in advertising/PR for the event? Will your name be on banners? Will you be allowed to gather customer data at the event? Get expectations and commitments in writing to avoid disappointment.
Now we’ll talk about Cause Marketing.
Cause marketing, also known as relationship marketing, is a means of gaining positive publicity, enhancing your brand, and even driving sales by affiliating your business with a “cause.” Even in tough economic times, customers today are very concerned about social responsibility and support causes they care about with their dollars. Certain consumer groups are particularly conscious of cause marketing: Millennials (consumers born approximately 1980-2000) and women. If you market to either of these groups cause marketing can be a smart strategy. Top causes supported by U.S. consumers include Green (environmental responsibility), education, disaster relief and research to end diseases (such as breast cancer or Alzheimer’s.)*(Source: Cause Evolution Survey/Cone LLC & Duke University)
1. Choose a cause. This needs to relate to your business. For instance, a children’s clothing boutique could support children’s causes. Consider whether you want to support a local organization, or a national organization. If most of your customers are local, you will probably focus locally. If you sell online, you may want to focus on a national cause. Choose something that your customers can get involved in and care about. 2. Research the organization. You need to make sure there are no skeletons in the closet of the group you are working with. Research online to see what kind of reputation they have. You also need to find a good fit in terms of the people you’ll be working with (if it’s a local organization).3. Choose your form of support. This could include you and your employees volunteering at an organization, contributing money to the organization or donating a percentage of sales from certain items to the organization, or selling products (for instance, selling pink-ribbon products to benefit breast cancer research). There are many different ways to show support depending on your goals and your budget.4. Know the tax issues. Your accountant should go over any tax issues if you are donating funds or if a percentage of the purchase price of certain products goes to a goes to a cause. Know what you can and can’t deduct and how to handle liability issues. 5. Publicize your cause. Make sure customers know about your involvement with the cause by promoting your involvement in your marketing materials, on your website, via your social media accounts, in store signage or on packaging for cause-related products. Also talk about it in e-newsletters or e-mails. If you are a sponsor of an organization, find out what type of publicity the group will offer you in return. Will your business be promoted on their marketing materials or listed as a donor?Also publicize the cause in your PR activities. Let newspapers and bloggers know what you’re doing to help the cause. 6. Above all, be authentic. Customers can tell when you’re not passionate about something and are just using it as a marketing ploy.
Estimated Time: 15 minutesWe are coming to the end of this session and we’ve gone over a lot of information today. Not all of what you’ve learned about will be a fit for your business. Here are four questions to ask yourself about each tool you’re considering.
Finally, we’ll talk about the importance of creating “Raving Fans”.
You may think that once you have a customer, you don’t have to do much to keep them and you need to turn all your efforts to finding new customers. In reality, focusing on your current customers is even more important to your success. Studies have shown that it costs substantially more to find a new customer than it does to keep an existing one happy.Loyal customers become a growth engine for your business, referring other customers to you and creating a pipeline to new business.
There are many options for creating customer loyalty programs that reward customers for their loyalty. Loyalty or rewards cards – These can be as simple as paper punch cards with “buy X and get one free” or plastic, bar-coded cards that track customer data. Geolocation websites like Foursquare and Gowalla are effective for retailers, restaurants, food-service businesses and other local product-oriented businesses. They offer tools you can use to reward customers when they “Check in” at your store or location.Discounts and special offers – Create discounts for key customers when they purchase a certain level or buy a certain number of times.Events – you can hold special events for your best customers where they have access to exclusive products or services, or get to shop in a special environmentGiveaways – Gifts with purchase or gifts on a special day such as a birthday or anniversary of first purchase Instructor Note: Start a brief discussion of customer loyalty programs. Does anyone use any of the program? Do they have any tips or suggestions? Spend about 5 minutes on this discussion.
Is your customer service up to par as your business grows? Customer service can be a key advantage a small business has over a big company. Here are some factors to “check up” on in your business:Physical location: Is the building attractive inside and out? Enough parking? Good signage? Is it easy to find items inside? Is the store well stocked? Is it inviting? Clean? Do employees greet customers promptly?Web site: Is it easy to navigate? Is there a way to contact your business by phone, email or mail? Is the site simple? If you sell products online, is your shopping cart system easy to use? Is the site attractive? Are product photos clear and appealing? Is there enough description? Do you have a FAQ section to handle customer questions?Phone: What happens when customers call your business? If there’s a voice mail system, is it simple to navigate? Is there an option to speak to a live person? Your staff: are they well groomed, articulate and friendly? Is your staff empowered to handle customer issues on their own? Are they knowledgeable about your products or services and can they make recommendations? Questions/answers and problems: How are customer questions answered? Can staff answer most questions? Does your website answer common questions? How does the staff deal with problems or complaints? Are you using complaints as a tool to improve?Customer feedback: Getting ongoing feedback is the best way to ensure good customer service. You can get feedback by talking to or calling customers, sending e-mails, or doing online surveys (Surveymonkey.com and Zoomerang.com are good survey sites; you can also do informal surveys using Facebook or Twitter). Pay attention to online ratings and reviews as well, and put out a Google alert to monitor what’s being said about your business online. Follow-up: Always follow up after the purchase is made. This could be via a phone call, a letter, or an e-mail depending on the nature of your business and the purchase. Find out if the customers are satisfied, what you can do to fix any problems, and promote other products or services you think they might be interested in. Secret shopper: Also called mystery shopping, this involves sending someone into your business to “shop” and report back to you on the service they receive. You can find mystery shopping companies online by searching mystery shopper or secret shopper. You can also create your own mystery shopping program by recruiting friends or family to visit your store anonymously. Create a form/questionnaire that each mystery shopper fills out after leaving the store to standardize their ratings of the service they get.
Here are some resources that you might find helpful.
In addition to the resources we’ve already discussed, here are some general sites that have information, advice, and resources to help you with all aspects of marketing and advertising.
As a review, in this session we talked about using research to inform your marketing goals, analyzing the pros and cons of using various marketing methods, and the importance of customer service and retention.
Now we are going to select a roundtable topic.
Instructor Note: Have the attendees decide which option they would like to explore further in the roundtable portion of the session. Edit these options as needed.
Here are you Next Steps.
Your marketing plan details what your marketing message is, how you will communicate it and how much this will cost.In the old days, companies would create a marketing plan for the coming year. Business has changed and is changing so fast that it is hard to plan one year in advance. Revisit your marketing plan at least quarterly (maybe even monthly) to make adjustments. Here are some of the methods we discussed in this session that you may want to consider incorporating into your marketing plan. Social mediaRatings & review sitesOnline marketingEmail marketingMobile marketingPublic relationsAdvertisingEvent marketingCause marketingYour SCORE Mentor can help you create a plan that achieves your marketing goals.
Instructor Note: Hand out the Net Promoter Score evaluation feedback sheet.
Good luck in reaching your goals!
Simple Steps for
Growing Your Business
Marketing Your Business
Douglas S. Cavanaugh
• Successful and experienced
business owners and
executives acting as
• Free mentoring:
• Seminars and workshops
• Resources for small
Marketing Your Business
Growing Your Sales
Managing Your Time,
People and Resources
Let’s Get Started
Briefly tell us:
• Your name
• Your business
• What you hope to achieve through this
By the End of This Workshop, You Will
• How to identify your marketing goals
• How to evaluate your marketing options
• About using social media
• The best online marketing methods
• Public relations strategies
• Effective advertising methods
• How to use event marketing
• When to use cause marketing
• How to retain customers
Marta E. Maxwell
Identify Your Marketing Goals
Have Your Business Needs Changed?
• Target customers
– Existing customers
– New customers
• Product or service mix
• Price point
• Sales channel
Identify Your Marketing Goals
Understand your target market
• Income level (consumer)
• Sales (business)
• Purchasing habits
• Purchasing channels
• Geographic location
Surendra N. Kumar, Ph.D.
Identify Your Marketing Goals
Market Data Sources
Indirect resources from others:
• Trade associations
• Census data
• American FactFinder (http://factfinder.census.gov)
• National Bureau of Economic Research (www.nber.org)
• Harris Infosource (www.harrisinfo.com)
• Hoover’s (www.hoovers.com)
• ThomasNet (www.thomasnet.com)
Identify Your Marketing Goals
Market Data Sources
Your Direct Research:
• Customer surveys
• Internet research
• Social media
• Focus groups
Identify Your Marketing Goals: Activity
Market Data Sources
This grid can be used once
you’ve done some market
research. If you can, fill in the
Can anyone already describe
a target market of theirs?
Identify Your Marketing Goals
Understanding Market Share
• Measured by dollars, units or
• Monitor market share regularly
• Adjust marketing strategy accordingly
Identify Your Marketing Goals
How Are You Pricing?
You can vary prices in accordance with the market’s
expectations to achieve your profit goals
Identify Your Marketing Goals
Is Your Brand Clear?
Branding is not the same as marketing.
Branding is the image, logo and
positioning of the product or service.
3 steps to brand creation:
1. Identify unique selling proposition
2. Understand target market
3. Communicate brand consistently
Hisao & Zuishu Hanafusa
Identify Your Marketing Goals: Activity
product/service, points of
differentiation and ideal
customer – then put them
together to create your
Identify Your Marketing Goals
Analyze the marketing methods used by your
Would similar methods work for you?
Evaluating Your Business
Return on Investment
Always assess your ROI for your marketing budget
• Set measurable goals
• Measure results
– Marketing effort that generated the sale
– Survey customers
• Adjust marketing plan accordingly
Your Marketing Options
Is It Right for You?
Not every marketing strategy is right for every business
When evaluating the following options, ask:
• Will this help achieve my goals?
• Will this reach my target customer(s)?
• Does this fit my budget? (Typically 3%-10% after 1-3
• Do I have adequate staff to implement?
Your Marketing Options
Marketing Methods & Tools:
- Advertising: radio, TV, newspaper, magazine, direct mail,
yellow pages, online
- Public Relations (PR): print, radio, TV, online
- Collateral :business cards, tri-folds, stationary, flyers
- Online: website, newsletter, emails, mobile, rating and
- Social Media: social networks, geo location sites, group
Understanding Public Relations
Public relations is a means of
generating attention from the media that
can be as effective as advertising in
building awareness of your business
Target to Each
• Relevant Topics
• Newswire’s PR Toolkit
Writing a Press Release
Press Release Distribution
Target publications, reporters and bloggers:
• E-mail release
• Link to your website
• Follow up
Free press release distribution services:
Public Relations: Discussion
Press Release Distribution
What are some topics related to your business that you
could write a press release for?
Who would you target and why?
Recommended Local Contacts
[Chapters tailor this slide with local
Linda M. Lawson
Benefits of a Business Website
• Builds awareness
• Helps customers find you
• Builds credibility
• Drives sales
• Customer service
• Additional sales channel
• National/global reach
Ease of use,
Developing an Effective Website
Elements of Your Website
• Domain name or URL (www.yourbusiness.com)
• Web hosting service
• Website design
Many providers offer package options that include all three:
Principles of Web Design
• Simple to navigate
• Direct users to take action
• Consistent with your marketing
John Christakos, Maurice Blanks & Charlie
Search Engine Optimization
SEO = driving traffic to your site via
organic search results
• Create quality content
• Use targeted keywords
• Measure results
Dr. Lynn McMahan
Web analytics can measure:
• Number of visitors
• Number of page impressions
• Average visit length
• Most popular site entry pages
• Where users come from (sites or search engine phrases)
• Number of inquiries, leads or sales generated
• Conversion rates
• Total sales volume online
• Average purchase per online customer
Use analytics to determine if your site is achieving your goals
Ways to get e-mail addresses:
• Opt in
• Sign up in-store
• Offer incentives
• Barter or buy lists
• Newsletter (monthly, weekly, daily)
• Sales or specials: Weekly or as needed
• Event invitations
Rupa Bihani Shah
CAN-SPAM Act requires:
Identify as an ad
No deceptive subject
Opt-out options (double
opt-in not required, but
Using an e-mail service
Microsoft Office Live
Small Business E-Mail
Legal Issues of E-mail
Visit the FTC website (www.ftc.gov/spam) for
information and resources on legal issues
Mobile marketing = using cell phones and other
mobile devices to market to customers
• 91 percent of U.S. population owns a mobile
• More than 25 percent of those are
• Good for local businesses
• Reach customers on the move
Mobile Marketing Methods
• SMS or MMS marketing: Text or photo messages sent to
• Mobile banner advertising: Banner space on a site that is
• Mobile local search: Having your business pop up when
someone is looking for a local business
• Mobile apps: Creating a smartphone application to promote
• Mobile paid search: Top 4 paid results show up
• Is your site mobile-friendly? Check at mobiReady.com
Rating and Review Sites
Feature customer reviews and ratings of businesses
Don’t forget niche sites for your industry, region or city
Getting Started with Ratings and
Claim your listing and optimize it with:
• Description of business
• Coupons/special offers
• Google alerts
• Paid tracking services
• Manually visit sites
Respond to Negative Reviews
• Reputation management
Convert Users to Buyers
• Put reviews on your site
• Use analytics
• Learn from reviews
Maximize Ratings and Reviews
Social Media Marketing
Social Media and Your Business
Social media facts:
Fastest-growing communication technology
among consumers and business users
Projected 3.6 billion users by 2014*
To get started, set your goals:
Drive traffic to your site or store
Learn about competitors
Find potential partners
*Source: Radicati Group
Social Media Marketing: Activity
• Review the Social
• Discuss which sites
you currently use (or
are thinking about
using) and why.
Social Media Marketing
Social Media Resources
Start with each site’s free social media analytics tools
Other tools include:
Manage Your Twitter
Keep Up With Social
Media News and
Social Media Marketing
Social Media Time Commitment
• Time requirements
• Management of updates
• Frequent changes required
• Learning curve for effective use
• Deciding what is appropriate for the media
Steps to Hosting an Event
Sponsoring an Event
• Good promotional tool for businesses with local customers
• Options include sports teams, charity events, schools, races,
• Investigate event organizer
• What will you give?
• What will you get?
Cause Marketing Facts
• Many customers are conscious of social responsibility
• Products associated with a good cause see up to a 74
percent boost in sales compared to non-cause-
• Women, millennials especially cause-conscious
• Key causes: Green, education, disaster relief, disease
*Source: Cause Evolution Survey
6 Steps to Cause Marketing
Your Marketing Options: Activity
Is It Right for You?
Based on the strategies
discussed (or any other
strategies you are
considering) complete this
Creating “Raving Fans”
Why Customer Retention Matters
• As your business grows, retaining existing customers is
key to success
• It costs 5 times more to find a new customer than it does
to keep one*
• Loyal customers can refer other customers to your
Creating “Raving Fans”
Customer Loyalty Programs
Keep customers coming back with loyalty
programs that can include:
• Loyalty cards
• Geolocation websites
• Discounts and special offers
Creating “Raving Fans”
Customer service is key to repeat business. Are
the following aspects of your business meeting
• Physical location
• Your staff
• Questions, problems, answers
• Customer feedback
• Post-sale follow up
• Secret shopper
• American Advertising Federation (www.aaf.org)
• American Express OPEN Forum (www.openforum.com)
• American Marketing Association (www.ama.org)
• Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org)
• Larry Chase’s Web Digest for Marketers (www.wdfm.com)
• Marketing Hub (www.marketinghub.com)
• Marketing Plan Pro (www.paloalto.com)
• Marketing Profs (www.marketingprofs.com)
• Marketing Research Association (www.mra-net.org)
• Marketing Sherpa (www.marketingsherpa.com)
• Mobile Marketing Association (http://mmaglobal.com)
• Radio Advertising Bureau (www.rab.com)
• SCORE (www.score.org)
• Use research to inform your marketing
• Carefully analyze the pros and cons of
using various marketing methods.
• Customer service and retention are
important and more cost-effective than
finding new clients
Please select a topic for
1. Is It Right For You? Expanding on your worksheet,
which marketing strategies fit best with your business
2. Pricing – how do you determine pricing?
3. Branding – how do you keep your brand consistent
across your communications and interactions with
4. Others ?
• Complete the Target Market Data Worksheet
• Create a marketing plan for the next 12 months
that reflects your new marketing goals and explains how you
will achieve them
• Review the With Your Mentor handout for topics to discuss
with your mentor
Visit www.score.org for more information
about other SCORE resources
Help Us Help You
Please answer the following questions:
1. On a scale of 0 - 10, how likely is it that you would
recommend this workshop to your friends and
2. What is the primary reason for the answer you just gave
3. What is the most important improvement we could make
that would make you rate us closer to a 10?