Friday, September 21, 2012

Marketing Ideas for Your Small Business

Recently a client asked me to put together a few strategic marketing ideas for their restaurant business that was aligned to their growth goals.  So this week I thought it might be interesting to share with you some of the ideas we discussed.  Now in this particular situation the client owns a restaurant and I've decided to include that detail since I think it provides a good example, but it could easily be adapted to your own small business goals.

Whenever I start a new project, I always begin with the goal.  In this case, the goal was to create a plan for a attracting new customers (25-40 year old set) who are more cutting edge and using social media.  A lot of this stuff can easily be automated in a cloud-based virtual solution so don't get overwhelmed.  It also should be pointed out that the customer already has a website, Facebook Page and Twitter account, all key components in my mind for an effective and well rounded strategy.  Here are a the ideas we discussed:

Create a Newsletter or Blog

In this case they had a pretty big email list, but no newsletter.  Even if you don't have a list yet, it's easy to build one and a great way to stay in touch with your customers and keep them coming back.  Ideally a newsletter or blog should be done once a week. The 25-40 year old set likes communication to be more personal these days (that’s why they are all “hanging out” on Facebook) so include a recipe “secret”, quote from a happy customer, birthday information, and what's happening in and around town.  All the content you create for your website and newsletter can then be repurposed and used on Facebook and Twitter.

Maximize the use of Facebook

Post any videos you have to your Facebook fan page and ask for comments.  Ask customers that come in to “like” your page.  When people "Like" your Facebook page, they are alerted to your updates via their news feeds.  You can also explore expanding your fan base using Facebook ads.  I would also recommend creating a “hidden” secret in the commercial or video for them to watch for (e.g. "what color is our signature drink”) when they come in the restaurant with the answer their name goes in for a drawing, winners can be posted via twitter, Facebook, on the blog or newsletter, etc.

Create automated updates across all your accounts.  Connect to your Facebook page from your newsletter, you newsletter to your website, from Facebook to twitter.  You get the idea.  All should be tightly integrated so as you update one with the daily specials, birthdays, etc. it can automatically post to all the others.

Maximize the use of Twitter:

Tweet your nightly/weekly specials (if you aren’t already).  Tweet interesting things happening in in and around town, such as  new movies, concerts, interesting happenings.  Become the center of information for the community.  Check and make sure your Twitter handle is on your website, Facebook page, newsletter, displayed in the restaurant menu, put it on the televisions in the bar, etc.

There are some good rules of thumb to use for Twitter that build value, a relationship and a good following.  Here are a few that you can incorporate in addition to sharing your own information about daily specials, birthdays, your blog or newsletter and other relevant information.  Remember many can be streamlined using technology and other resources, you do not have to do all this yourself and it could easily be outsourced to a virtual assistant team.

  • Reply to someone else’s tweet
  • Re-Tweet good information
  • Post inspiration or quote
  • Post an “a-ha” resource
  • Share a link to another great resource, blog post or website

Develop Email Campaigns

Developing email campaigns is easy and can also be automated, you probably already have the content developed for advertising elsewhere, it just needs to be adapted for email.  Any advertising you are doing in local magazines, tv, radio can be repurposed and sent via email along with a newsletter, blog, recipe of the week, birthday days, specials…you get the idea.

That's it!  I hope you got some good ideas for putting together your own strategic marketing plan, as always we are here to help.  Feel free to share your comments, and I'd love to hear your thoughts...

Until next time,