If you’re a small business owner, you undoubtedly know that your online presence is critical to your success in this day and age. So does growing reliance on technology mean that small business owners should focus solely on online methods and ditch those traditional in-person marketing tactics that, if we’re being honest, make us cringe?
The answer is “no.” The reality is that ‘old school’ marketing techniques - you know...actually meeting and talking with people - are still important.
Although harder to master and prone to awkwardness, your in-person persona is equally critical to your brand as online marketing is.
Here are 7 tips to help you do it right.
#1 Write and Memorize Your Elevator Pitch
There’s no doubt that you need to sell your business any chance you can. So, if you haven’t already created an elevator pitch -- or a short, engaging spiel for whenever the opportunity arises -- you need to do so right away. Make sure it includes who you are (keep it natural, not canned), what benefits your business offers its customers, and problem your product or service solves. Keep business cards handy and pass them out to accompany your pitch.
#2 Leverage Industry and Community Organizations
Make connections at your local chamber of commerce, industry associations, and other community organizations. You’ll be able to network with other business owners and professionals with similar goals and audiences.
You can even connect with nonprofits that need your partnership to make a bigger impact on the community. In fact, volunteering at a community organization is often one of the best and easiest ways to make powerful connections.
#3 Consider Sponsorship
As I said above, your local Chamber of Commerce can help you connect with nonprofits or other organizations that need your help. Get your name out there by sponsoring a local little league team or a local artist showcase. Simply find a cause that means something to you and put your money where your mouth is. When your community sees your brand’s name tied to events that bring positive change, it’ll no doubt grow brand awareness.
#4 Team Up with Other Businesses
Find other businesses that align with your company’s values, culture, and mission and come up with a strategy to grow your customer base. Consider putting together a mutually-sponsored event or promotion. Both you and your partnering business will boost brand recognition and opportunities for increased sales since you’ll both be targeting each other’s customer bases.
#5 Host or Attend Speaking or Networking Events
If you have the time and vision to put together an event that you believe will add value to other businesses or the community at large, then do it! You wouldn’t believe how fast these in-person events will expand your brand recognition. Plus, you’re doing something for your community that really matters and you’re building your credibility as an expert in your field.
If this isn’t up your alley, consider attending as many hosted events as possible, as long as they relate in some way to your niche or your audience. Set up a booth, answer questions, give out freebies. A few hours at an event could get your brand in front of more people than you might expect. Plus, you could also make some connections with other businesses and begin cross-promoting as we talked about in Tip #4.
#6 Pass Your Marketing Knowledge On To Your Employees
Make sure your team knows how to market your business as well. Train them to understand your company’s culture, values, and goals, and role-play customer interaction scenarios with them. Quality, knowledgeable, and helpful employees will boost brand popularity via word-of-mouth or awesome reviews and keep customers coming back for more.
#7 Personalized Communication
After you’ve interacted with other businesses or customers in person, don’t neglect to follow up with personalized communication of some sort. Whether it’s a hand-written “thank-you” note or an email message, just be sure to call your prospect by name and reference some aspect of what you discussed at your first in-person meeting. This will show people that you value getting to know them and that you care about relationships.
It’s All About Presence
No matter which of these tips you include in your marketing strategy, just make sure that you are present -- both in mind and body -- when interacting with your potential customers. Show them you’re there, ready for concerns or questions, and that you care not only about your product or service but also for your customers.