5 Marketing Strategies For Your Small Business

It’s mid-October, the warm allure of summer is fading into memory and each morning, we who live west of the Cascades, are driving into the rolling morning fog that envelops our landscape. Fall has officially begun and with the transition of the seasons, we find ourselves at the cusp of the holiday season, the happiest, most lucrative season of all. According to the National Retail Federation 20-40% of sales for small-to-mid-size (SMBs) happen during the holiday season. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday - national events in their own right - kick off the season in an intense, three day sales blitz. Every business, no matter how small, should capitalize on this phenomena. At Markon, fueled by mochas from our friends at The Beanstalk, we’ve prepared a short list of 5 marketing strategies we believe every small business should adopt year-round - if you haven’t already, the holiday sales season is the perfect time to start.

Markon’s 5 Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses:

Make Your Interior “POP” pop: Whether a prospective customer is window shopping, searching for the next item on their holiday gift list, or in definite need of a particular item, be sure that you’re guiding their attention (and intentions) with well-designed, branded in-store signage. Does your location include floor to ceiling windows? Have you invested in banners, hanging signs, or even window cling signage that alerts prospective customers to sales or services inside? If not, be sure you’re developing a strategy to let your building work for you. Take advantage of an architectural feature like large windows, by allowing them to serve as displays, both for your products and your signage. Once the prospective customer is inside, are you directing them around your store with in-store signage that features a design and branding that mirrors (or at least matches) the signage in your window? Use in-store signage to direct your customer to products, to reiterate your company’s mission, or share an important message. Additionally, be sure your Point of Purchase includes signage that reinforces your brand: be it with sales signs that include your logo; a holiday banner around your cash wrap; stickers to attach to item tags; or even QR codes directing customers to your website or social media. Visually remind the customer where they’ve just had their shopping, or service, experience. By doing so, you’ll be instilling your brand identity into their memory of the experience. (So make sure it’s a positive experience!)

Make Your Website Your 24 Hour Sales Agent: This applies to SMBs, local nonprofits, social organizations, etc.: Your website is your 24 hour representative - make sure it is branded right. (You do have a website, right? If not, read what Forbes has to say about SMBs who don’t.) Investing in thoughtfully designed digital graphics, such as web banners, resizable images, or even a background, for your website is critical to ensuring that your website drives home your message. With Cyber Monday around the corner, are you using your website to advertise pending sales? Will your website reflect that Cyber Monday is happening? Does your website reflect the coming sales season - this time of year, or any other? At Markon, we recommend updating your graphics on a routine basis - at times of sales, during information campaigns, etc. You don’t have to redesign your website for every event. A simple, small collection of graphics, thoughtfully placed on your website, can drive home an enormous impact.

Promote From the Outside In: Websites drive a lot of foot traffic. Now that your website has introduced a prospective customer to your brand, don’t let them get lost in the real world, looking for your location. Does your physical location have a well-placed, well-lit sign outside? If you’re in a strip mall, or large shopping center, have you considered using yard signs, placed on grassy medians, or even attached to lamp posts (if allowed) to direct shoppers to your products or services?

Use Your Data: Advertising has perhaps never been easier than it is in the 21st century. You know your customers, and if you’ve been collecting data, you know how to contact them. Consider investing in a social media ad campaign on Facebook or Twitter, or an email campaign to announce your holiday sales, spring line up, or summer event. If you’ve been collecting customer email addresses (and you should be), shoot them an email to let them know what’s going on. Use the data from your social media analytics to target your social media advertising. With services like Constant Contact and MailChimp, sending large volumes of emails is easier than ever - and more aesthetically pleasing than ever. (Speaking of Constant Contact: Check out this list of holiday stats blogger Ryan Pinkham compiled for SMBs.) Investing in graphics for social media sharing, advertising, and email campaigns can yield an enormous impact. Instagram - the social media network for image sharing - is being called the “breakout social network for 2014” by a reported 73% of marketers. Using custom graphics to share on Instagram, or purchased social media ads, or an email campaign, will drive interest in product or service, and lead traffic to your website or physical location.

Put Your Brand in the Customer’s Hand: Whether your customer found you through a web search, social media, or by following outdoor signage to your location, now that you’ve got them, don't’ let them leave without a final impression. Consider the strategies of Harvey Alpert, the mind behind “Brand in Your Hand.”  At Markon, when we think about this concept, we consider the Point of Sale experience, and in particular, what the customer is going to walk away with. As an SMB, have you considered branding the paper, plastic, or canvas bag your customer will carry your product out of your store with? Do you have a method of branding the boxes you may be shipping your products in? For that matter, how about the box, or case, your product is in, even when it’s not being shipped? Depending on your product or service, you may even consider branding apparel that you may sell. You want your customer to leave with with your brand, literally in their hand. This drives their impression of your brand in their mind, and lets them serve as a mobile advertisement for your company. And, if the item they’ve left with is interesting enough - be it a shirt or a bag - it may become a conversation point that may drive the ever-valuable word-of-mouth advertising that should never be underappreciated.  - - However you decide to brand your packaging, business cards, or even apparel, at Markon, we recommend that you brand with intention. For items that do not necessarily serve your business, we recommend going generic. Save your investment in branding for items that will truly drive interest in - and have an impact for - your company.

At Markon, we believe those 5 simple strategies will serve you well - in this season, and all the others. We have the tools to help you with your branding and marketing throughout the year. From our expertise in design, ability to produce the physical and digital products you require, and knowledge of the tools needed to make it all happen, we’re poised and ready to get you to your goals. Lets get started: Contact us.

Markon Brands