Shop Talk reporter Virginia Bridges asked marketing professionals to give tips to small-business owners for 2014. This is what they said.
• Too often, business owners jump to tactics, like creating a brochure or starting a Twitter account, said Jim Tobin, president of Ignite Social Media, a social media marketing agency in Cary. Its better to take a step back and consider how people buy your product or service, how they find you and why they choose you. Think a lot about that and the marketing tactics become almost self-evident.
• Dont just use social media as a necessary add-on to your marketing efforts, said David Gwyn, president of French/West/Vaughan, a public relations and integrated marketing firm headquartered in Raleigh. Understand how your consumers engage, in which social media platforms they participate, and then come up with creative content that educates them, incentivizes them and/or amuses them.
• My advice would be to deploy a fewer, bigger, better approach, meaning apply your limited marketing dollars to two to three programs with enough intensity to make a big impact, said David Chapman, CEO of 919 Marketing, a national marketing agency based in Holly Springs. Too often I see companies dabble and endlessly test options, thus diluting their budget and effectiveness.
• Learn who your customers are and how they like to communicate. A simple survey (and a chance to win something for free) will do the trick, said Valerie K. Fields, chief PR pro at V.K. Fields & Co. PR PROS, a full-service public relations and copywriting agency in downtown Raleigh. Focus on the top two or three marketing platforms they prefer and provide content that clients need and want. Create specific plans for traditional, digital and social media marketing, and then follow through all year long
• Determine where your customers and prospects spend time online and follow them there. Adopt an idea of rapid testing, and when advertising dollars dont deliver, reallocate. Follow consumers trends, such as accessing websites from their mobile telephones, and adjust your marketing accordingly, said Angela Connor, senior vice president and group director at Capstrat, a strategic communications firm in Raleigh.