Social Media isn't the only tool in your box

Anyone running a business of any size these days is likely to use social media in their marketing. Understandably it’s the channel start-ups will turn to first. It’s free, and when used well, social media is a great way to connect with your audience. Plus, most of us use social media in our day to day lives, so it’s not alien to us.

But social media has its downside too. Your customers and potential clients are bombarded with online messaging all day every day and can become blind to your message. Reaching your audience through channels other than social media will not only help you stand out from the crowd, it will also reinforce your online messaging making your overall marketing strategy much more effective.

So what other tools are available to you?

Networking

Not just for those selling products or services to businesses, networking is an effective marketing tool for any business. Face to face contact allows you to build much deeper relationships than online networking. You get to know the people behind the business so have a clearer understanding of whether their values and approach match yours – we all want to work with people we can really connect with. And as a small business owner, networking gives you so much in terms of peer support, social interaction and opportunities for collaboration.

If you’re not networking already, try out some of the groups in your area. Most allow one or two visits free of charge before you sign up, so you can see which ones suit you.

Local press & PR

If your business is local or regional, then don’t underestimate the power of local advertising or PR. Working with a PR specialist you can get a press release written and into all the relevant print and online publications in your area for a fraction of the cost of paid advertising in each of them. PR is a great way to share the wider story of your business with people who might not otherwise see you – community projects, fundraising by staff or new appointments all make good PR stories.

And what about all those little local and parish magazines we get through our door? I know many of them go straight into the recycling but an awful lot of them, particularly community news magazines, are read and kept from one month to the next. For the right business, advertising in these publications can be highly effective. With costs as little £15 per insertion (or £150 every month for a year!) it must be worth a try.

Telephone

Don’t forget about the phone! In today’s digital world, it’s such a rarity to get a phone call but a five-minute chat can open so many doors. Obviously, you need the right permissions in place, but a follow up call to visitors after an event is so much more personal than those automated emails and will have a much greater impact. If the customer’s experience was positive, then the phone call will only enhance that feeling for them. And if it was negative, a phone call gives you the chance to respond to any issues and put things right immediately.

Events

Organising an event to showcase your business doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. If you’re a creative business, why not hold an open day where people can come and see you at work? Having conversations with visitors in your own space means you can demonstrate the value in what you do, and meeting your potential customers face to face gives you plenty of opportunity to learn about their motivations (or worries) around buying from you.

For a professional services business, try running a free advice clinic. You can use your own office to keep costs down or an inexpensive local meeting space. Advice clinics allow you to demonstrate how you help potential customers and demonstrate what it’s like to work with you. Remember to follow up after your event – thank people for taking the time to visit and give them a reason to come back or get in touch.

Direct Mail

So much has been written about the death of Direct Mail and the resurgence of Direct Mail it’s difficult to know what the truth is. It may be my background, but I believe that a well targeted, well executed Direct Mail campaign can have a huge impact on your audience – and even more so when combined with email.

How much mail do we get these days? And how much of that is interesting? If your target audience is younger people, mail has even more of an impact. When my daughter was looking at universities, Plymouth uni sent her a simple postcard from the seaside with a message that they were looking forward to seeing her again. She loved it – and chose Plymouth!

“Admin” messages

Too many businesses see customer service communications such as order fulfilment and follow up as an admin task. But they are a vital part of your overall marketing strategy and deserve careful attention.

Take some time to review all the emails your clients and customers receive from you during the buying process. Read them from your customers’ point of view. Is the language warm and friendly? Is it clear what you want them to do next or what they can expect to happen next? Have you given them a route to contact you if they have questions?

A recent rewrite of client journey emails for one of my clients resulted in the number of people getting “stuck” during the application process being reduced considerably which in turn meant bookings coming through more quickly.

These are just a few of the other options in the marketing toolbox for small businesses. Social Media has its place but using other channels alongside it really amplifies your message and improves your overall results.  Just make sure your message is consistent across everything – the last thing you want is to just confuse people with conflicting messages!

If you'd like help deciding which channels would be suitable to complement your social media, then get in touch.