When I started my coaching business ten years ago, marketing was totally different than it is today. What worked then doesn’t work as well now. Yet I see small business owners who cling to certain marketing methods because it’s comfortable. Let’s face it, that’s just human nature. Who wants to be on a constant learning curve, always changing, updating and re-inventing? It’s time consuming. But the truth is that being on the cutting edge, being creative and changing things up every so often is crucial if you want to keep running a successful business–and marketing is always changing.
It just amazes me that many retail businesses are still not web savvy. They are still doing the same old, tired print advertising, and their websites are often vintage 2000. In the same way, service based businesses who rely on online sales can fall behind by using marketing methods that worked like gangbusters five years ago but are much less effective now. Let me give you some examples.
E-mail marketing was king a few years ago, but is less effective today. Open rates are down and if you are relying solely on e-mail you may be struggling a bit. Today you have to give people a compelling reason to open your emails or they’ll hit the delete button in two seconds. Tele-class marketing was also more effective than it is now, although it still works. But just like emails, people have so many choices now that they’ll only chose you if your subject and content are tightly focused on delivering information they really want.
Some marketing activities are timeless and continue to be effective, like one-to-one phone calls, focused networking and well written direct mail. It’s just that the way you implement them changes as the technology changes. Many people now use an online scheduler to schedule phone calls. Networking groups are more savvy and focused then they were years ago. And there are many more options for getting creative with direct mail, like using SendOut Cards for example.
What’s currently working? Video and webinars. If you haven’t dipped your toe into video, I’d start right away. Video is like watching TV for many people, plus it gives you a chance to personally speak to your prospects. Audio is a close second. Combine the two and you have a really effective way to build a relationship with your prospects that result in sales.
Websites have changed too. If you haven’t updated your website in the last few years chances are it looks outdated and may be sending visitors straight to someone else’s website. The look that works now includes clean, bright colors, lots of white space, videos on key pages and a call to action on every page. If you’re not using WordPress, think of making the switch. It has so many advantages I can’t even list them in this short article.
And don’t forget about creating a social media strategy. Building a following of people in your target market on Twitter, Facebook and Linked In is a must, and that means spending a bit of time daily interacting with your followers and offering them great tips, insights and resources on a regular basis, as well as sharing a bit of the real you—who you are as a person. The more you open up and build a real relationship the more likely it is that your followers will become loyal fans, clients and buzz builders. And the more people that recommend you through social media, the larger your following will grow.
What’s emerging now are technologies like automated audio and webinar systems that deliver content to your prospects as if live, and allows them to choose the time that’s most convenient for them to “attend”. This allows you to re-cycle your webinars and tele-classes over and over and invite new people on a regular basis without a lot of time required on your part.
Take some time to really study what’s working today and then update your marketing to use those tools and strategies that people are responding to now and you’ll see a dramatic increase in subscribers, fans, leads and clients.
To get started, make a list of what you’re currently doing each week to promote your business and see if you can add any of the suggestions I’ve made here.