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Straight Marketing

January 20, 2012

Exeter Business Network member Alison Jobson has some great tips for businesses for the new year.

12 Low-Cost Marketing Suggestions for Increasing Sales in 2012

The new year is always a good time to review your marketing activity. With  2012 looking like it could be another difficult year for business here are 12 low-budget marketing suggestions to help you promote your business and increase sales this year:

1. Review and Update Your Business Objectives

Before planning any new marketing activity it is essential to know what you want to achieve from your business so you can plan your marketing accordingly. Review and update your objectives so you know where you are headed and can work out what you need to do to get there. This will ensure you don’t waste time and money on inappropriate marketing.

2. Measure Return on Investment

Review last year’s marketing activities/expenditure and determine return on investment for each. This will give you an accurate picture of what works and enable you to make informed decisions about what to focus on in 2012.

3. Analyse Your Existing Client Base

Review your existing clients to determine where there is potential to up-sell additional products or services, to identify lapsed clients and to ensure that your most important clients are happy and being looked after. We all know it is far cheaper and easier to increase sales to an existing client than to win a new client.

Also identify those clients that cost you money to service (see an earlier blog post on this subject) and either work out a way to turn that around or say goodbye to them.

4. Follow up Outstanding Leads

Chase up all leads which have not closed off and diarise when to follow up again. If contracts are reviewed on an annual basis make sure you don’t miss out when the work is up for renewal again.

5.Concentrate on Benefits Rather than Features

Make potential customers/clients more interested in buying from you by reviewing and updating how you promote/package together your products/services. Make sure that you are clearly communicating what your customers are getting – make it clear why they absolutely have to buy this product/service from you.

Consider packaging together particular products or services to provide a product or service which provides a complete solution.

6.  Update Your Website

Increase the number of visitors to your website by updating it. Review you choice of keywords (the Google AdWord tool will help) and make sure these are used effectively throughout your site. Set up a blog if you haven’t already got one and link it to your main site. Add news stories, case studies and testimonials on a regular basis. This will help with driving traffic to your site and create a positive first impression to prospective clients/customers.

7. Get on Social Media

If you are not already using social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ (see my previous blog post on Google+) then give it a try. Social networking can be used to engage with potential customers, to network, to find out what is going on in your market and to spread your message. Social networking sites are free to use but will require a time investment. You should be clear what you want to achieve before getting started.

8. Court the Media

Actively promote your business to the relevant local, national and trade press. Find out who the key journalists are for your area/market and start to build relationships with them. Find out what they are interested in and become a regular source of interesting and relevant articles, news stories/press releases, case studies and comment. Editorial is not only free but is far more powerful than paid advertising.

9. Do Coffee

Meet up with existing/potential work referrers to catch up and remind them of your business. If appropriate consider some form of formal referral arrangement to encourage them to refer potential work to your business. If you don’t have any existing referrers then try and identify other synergistic but non-competing businesses that might be interested in working collaboratively with your business and suggest meeting up.

10. Network

Networking is a great way to spread the message about your business and is particularly effective if you are selling a service where relationship is so important. Networking can be expensive so choose your events carefully and filter out those which don’t work for your business. Many networking groups will welcome you as a guest for a couple of times before you have to make any commitment to joining.

11. Become a Public Speaker

Offer yourself as a speaker to relevant local networking groups, professional associations etc. This will enable you to meet with and demonstrate your expertise to a group of potential customers. You will need to come up with a list of suggested topics and be able to show why they are of interest and prove your qualification to talk on them.

12. Outsource

Yes, outsource! If you are trying to market your business on a limited budget then outsourcing might seem like the last option available to you. However, it can often be more cost efficient to outsource your marketing or PR to a specialist particularly if you are providing a service which is time-based. An external specialist will have the expertise and experience to do the job more efficiently and effectively. This frees up your time to focus on other areas of the business and concentrate on servicing your existing clients.

So these are my top 12 low-cost marketing suggestions for 2012. If you take the time now to review your marketing strategy and plan your marketing for the year ahead your business will undoubtedly generate more sales in 2012. You do not necessarily need a large marketing budget to achieve this!

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