MARKETING & ADVERTISING • April 29, 2015
2 minutes Read
By Gene Marks
Small business influencer Gene Marks is a guest blogger for CAN Capital. He is a celebrated author, columnist and small business owner.
Do you want to improve your marketing? Then stop marketing. And start educating. Things have changed since the days of “Mad Men.” You don’t sell. You nurture. You help. You teach. You stay in front of your prospects and customers as often as you can, without being too intrusive, and provide them with helpful information to make their lives better. You can’t put a gun to your prospect or customer’s head and say “buy from me NOW!” All you can do is keep yourself and your company in their thoughts so that when they do need something that you provide they’ll think of you first.
The good thing is that there are plenty of great, inexpensive technologies to help you do this. For example:
There are email services, like Constant Contact, Jangomail, MyEmma, MailChimp and others. These are reputable and popular ways to keep in touch with your prospects and communities. They’re inexpensive. They have easy-to-configure templates and great metrics to track who is opening, reading and clicking on links in your emails. No matter what business you run, you should be sending newsletters, updates, bulletins or helpful hints and messages to your audience using an email service. And not just one email either. You need to segment your database and send multiple groups of emails that are relevant to your recipients, not just one generic message.
There are printing services. Yes, printing. Because not everyone reads their email. So look at Vista Print, Print Place or the many other companies who provide similar services. Here you can create a simple, but effective postcard to mail out to your community. Put a photo on the front and a story on the back – don’t make it all about you. Use good, free stock photography from MorgueFile or Getty Images. Even with postage it costs about a buck a card to send, and if you do this for a long enough period of time, people will expect to get your messages and read them.
Send voice and text messages. I like VoiceShot for calls and Tatango for texts. There are people in your community who prefer to get phone calls. There are others who only want texts. Now there are services like these that can do this for you en masse and inexpensively. Remember, these are “OPT IN”….you always want to get permission from your customers or prospects to contact them in this way. But once you do, you can use services like these to update them on important issues, price increases, new products or service concerns of interest.
And don’t forget social media, of course. That’s because, depending on your customers, you may have a large community on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. And if that’s the case, you’ll want to devote resources (i.e. people) to monitor your sites there, update them with new information, keep things active, respond to customer messages and build your community.
In 2014 (and 2015), there are plenty of marketing technology tools available to help you stay close to your community. But the most important thing to remember? Don’t use the marketing tools for marketing. Use these tools for education. Offer tips, advice, helpful hints and content that will be interesting and helpful to read. This will keep your community involved and interested. And it will ultimately lead to a closer relationship and more sales.
Photo credit: Ellagrin/shutterstock.com
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