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How Best To Market Your Business
Consistent, results-oriented marketing is the heartbeat of every successful business.
But for those embarking on an entrepreneurial journey, taking the decision on how best to market your business can be one of the most important business decisions you will make. Because your marketing strategy – and the results you generate from it – will shape your business’s future from day one.
People who go into business for themselves frequently do so because they love what they do. Dare I say they are passionate about providing a great service to their clientele? To create a business that doesn’t feel like work is surely the ambition of every budding entrepreneur.
But the point here is, that whilst you may be a brilliant interior designer – someone who would give Kelly Hoppen a run for her money – the real question is, how good are you at marketing your interior design business?
Marketing is what drives every business, because without marketing there is no business.
Some key aspects to your marketing strategy you will need to consider when launching a new business (or revamping an existing one):
1. Create a Successful Website
These days your website is your business card, your CV and your company brochure all rolled into one so it had better be dressed to impress!
Does it need to be pretty?
Ideally your website should be both attractive and functional, but if you want an example of an ultra-successful website which breaks every rule, I can think of no finer example than that of former Dragon’s Den contestant Ling Valentine of Ling’s Cars. Ling may have collected numerous awards down the years (including the ‘World’s Worst Website’), but with a regular monthly turnover of around £3m, Ling most certainly isn’t complaining!
Arguably the most important ingredient about any business website is that it should reflect the ‘personality’ of your business.
2. Build Your Email List from Day 1
Building your email list needn’t be a big deal. Providing a simple sign-up box in return for a newsletter, ebook or audio download is all you need. Include a sign-up box on every page of your website – not everyone who visits you will see your Home page first.
Treat your list with respect. Yes, of course you can market to them, but for every offer you send out your followers should have received three quality content emails in between. This 3:1 ratio builds up trust, rapport and responsiveness.
We’ve all signed up to lists that are forever plugging their latest products without offering anything much of value for free. This slippery path only leads to one thing – a mass of people hitting the ‘unsubscribe’ link.
3. Learn from Your Competitors
What do you think of your competitors’ websites? What elements work well? What elements would you change? Do they have a sign-up form? Great. Sign-up for their updates/ newsletter/freebies (it’s probably better to use a Gmail account with a pseudonym, rather than your real name). You need have no qualms about spying on the competition – you can bet they will be doing the same to you!
4. Create an Ongoing Search Engine Optimization Strategy
You might have the best website in the world, but it won’t earn your business a cent if nobody knows about it. Unfortunately SEO is not a ‘set it and forget it’ activity, it is something you will need to work at continuously to improve your results over time.
Many business owners get (understandably) impatient over this: “How long will it take you to get my business onto Page One of Google?” they ask their SEO consultant.
Well, that all depends (amongst other things) on what keywords your business is competing for. Providing keyword-rich content and attracting quality backlinks can certainly aid this process, as can being active on social media platforms.
The best advice is to commit to a plan of providing quality content, monitoring your results and refining your SEO strategy on a regular basis.
5. Consider Trade Shows and Exhibitions
Trade shows and exhibitions can be used to fast-track your online activity by spreading the word about your business to prospective customers and clients. You could use these events to boost awareness of your brand, build your email list and network with like-minded folk. While national exhibitions can be somewhat expensive, bagging yourself a stand at local trade shows and events can be a cost-effective route to building a loyal customer base, but you will still need to design eye-catching popup stands to make sure your business stands out.
6. Make Friends with the Press and Get Free Publicity!
Every glossy publication, newspaper, and trade magazine has its own editorial calendar, detailing what features are proposed and when they will run. Make a list of which publications you would like your business to appear in and obtain the editorial calendar for that publication (often these will be available on the publication’s website, but if not, send a brief email to the Features Editor introducing yourself and your business and I’m sure they will be delighted to email you a copy).
Print off your features lists and highlight any features you might contribute to with a note of the deadline date. Make use of News Sections too – send out press releases at least once a month and vow to make yourself the ‘go-to’ authority in your industry, so that journalists seek you out more often in future.