Gone are the days when teenagers ruled social media and it was nothing but a technological mystery to every other generation. According to Hootsuite, there are over 3 billion internet users, out of which 2 billion have active social media accounts. That means almost one third of the world’s population can potentially be reached through effective social media marketing. Every day there are over 500 million Tweets4.5 billion Likes on Facebook, and 95 million photos and videos uploaded to Instagram.

With a plethora of statistics out there proving just how effective and influential social media has become, companies should no longer treat social media marketing as optional.

Create brand awareness

A strong presence on social media can do wonders for your brand. Being active on social media can make it easier for your customers to connect with and follow you. This can lead to better customer retention and loyalty. Another advantage of using social media is the speed at which information can be shared – it is a quick, inexpensive and effective way to get news out there as soon as possible. Reaching customers has never been as easy as social media has made it, all it takes is posting information to your brand’s platforms.

Direct engagement with customers and prospects

Posting relevant information, videos and images can help you reach your customers directly. Engage with them and start conversations. Teach them about your brand and products/services by sharing relevant information that they would find useful and enjoy the opportunity to speak to them directly, and on such a huge scale. If used as a two-way channel, you can create and enhance customer relationships quickly and easily. Reports show that brands that engage on social media channels enjoy higher customer loyalty.

Competitor Monitoring

By simply visiting a competitor’s page on social media platforms, you immediately have knowledge of what they are doing, what’s coming up for them and how they are using social media channels to boost their marketing efforts. By continuously monitoring the competition, you can stay ahead and look for unique ways in which to interact with customers that no one else is doing.

Advertise to a target audience

Social media offers inexpensive ways to reach your target audience. By narrowing your audience down in terms of demographics, interests, behaviour and geographical location, you can reach the right audience. What’s even better is that the results are in real time and the insights provided by most social media platforms are powerful marketing tools. Social media also gives you valuable insights such as information on your customers and their behaviour which helps you plan how to reach out to them and determine what their needs are.

Reduces marketing costs

A small amount of time and budget is required to get started on social media. Some marketers spend as little as six hours per week and still find the results impressive and the efforts effective. Compared to traditional methods such as digital and print advertising, social media costs are quite low. In addition to this, you can reach out to customers multiple times a day or week with a new message which is something previous marketing methods did not allow. Customers can share their good experiences on social media and this word of mouth marketing can do wonders for your brand that a plain old advert that could never have achieved.

Another platform to showcase customer service

Complaints, suggestions or brilliant reviews – people go straight to social media. They also go on social media platforms for customer service requirements. Modern day customers expect companies to be on social media and they expect immediate responses and 100% response rates. Companies that excel in providing support through social media are likely to benefit from more financial gains.

Your website

Social media is an effective tool for increasing visits to your website. Popularity on social media can increase your search engine ranking and posting links to your website can increase website traffic. Most social media platforms also allow advertising that directs to your website, this can be very effective if done correctly.

Unfortunately for some companies, shoppers today have way too many options and way too little time. This means that the average shopper will go straight for the brand that they trust or that is well known, leaving very little room for less known companies and new companies to get a share of the pie. Companies that have worked hard to establish themselves as a reliable and trustworthy brand are getting the lion’s share and this is where branding comes into play. Most product offerings of any kind have similar qualities, features and even ingredients. Customers tend to buy based on trust so working hard to create this is important. Good branding gives customers a reason to care about your brand, company and products.

Branding represents everything about your customer experience including your logo, website, customer service, your social media interactions, your staff and so much more. Branding is basically how your customers perceive you. A good brand comes through hard work, dedication and strategic planning.

Why you need to invest in creating a good brand.

Appear more established: the right work on a brand can make a brand new company look like a well established company. This in turn makes it seem more credible, hence building trust and therefore increasing sales.

Promotes recognition: Brand identity work can improve the perception of your business in the eyes of your customers. If your branding is consistent, frequent and easy to recognise then people will become more familiar with it and will feel more comfortable and at ease when purchasing your products.

Sets you apart from the competition: with so many companies saturating the market in each industry, it is important to have strong branding to make sure you stand out in a crowd. Your brand should be bold, recognisable and different.

Defines your business: your brand from the way your logo is represented and your phones are answered tell a story of your company. It is critical that all the elements that collectively make your brand are in line with your marketing strategy so that the story being told is what you want your customers to hear.

Happy customers: a strong brand makes people proud to say they use that company and results in more referrals, better reviews and testimonials and overall, happier customers.

Increase the value of your business: a brand is one of the most valuable assets that a company has. A good, strong brand is worth much more than a company’s physical assets. In many cases, a company’s name and the brand associated with it have much more value than any asset belonging to it.

Before you set out to create a brand, it is important for you to know what customers currently think of your business, how it is perceived and most importantly, how you want it to be perceived. Work on creating a brand out of the vision that you have for your company.

  • Optimise your website content to make it search-engine friendly. Optimise your body copy, meta descriptions and alt tags so that search engines pick up what you’re saying. Add more relevant content to your website and add in relevant keywords.
  • Blog – start a company blog. This is a really effective way to add relevant content that is full of important keywords to your website. It also means that your website is constantly being updated with useful information. Brainstorm with your colleagues for blog topics and make it relevant to your customers or industry. Not only does blogging improve your online presence and website copy, it makes you stand out as a reliable source of industry information and adds credibility to your brand. It is important to make sure that the information you post is true and reliable and that your source of information is credible. You can also follow community pages and see what people are talking about for blog article ideas.
  • Use social media to create constant engagement with customers and prospects. Post interesting information, reply to enquiries and make it another platform on which you can showcase your excellent customer service. Post photos, videos and articles to keep your audience entertained. If you have interesting topics to discuss, record videos and put them up on Youtube. Reach out to specific people using LinkedIn and advertise across social media platforms to a target audience.
  • Ensure your customer service levels are high – with companies across the globe working strenuously to provide exceptional customer service, it’s easy to fall behind. Reach out to your existing customers, ask them how their experience has been and how you could better your services and build on that.
  • For small companies that have close to personal relationships with their customers, contact your existing customers and ask them to leave reviews on social media, testimonials on your website and spread the word to other people that would be interested in similar products or services.
  • Be a guest blogger – if there are blogs relevant to your industry or product offering, see if you can write a guest blog for them. This will add credibility to your brand, enhance your relationship with the owner of that blog and ultimately increase your brand exposure. If it’s a blog that you read regularly, you’re likely to know their style of writing and the topics that would be a good fit for their blog.
  • Install Google Analytics to monitor your website traffic, visitor demographics and behaviour. See how long your visitors spend on each page, which pages get the most visits and which pages seem neglected. This will help you to create content that is of interest to your website visitors.
  • Stay up to date – follow other blogs, marketing websites and other sources of tips so that you can stay up to date with the latest trends both in your industry and in marketing. Continue to learn as things are ever changing and what works today might be completely outdated tomorrow.

It almost goes without saying, like an unwritten rule – when budgets are tight, marketing is the first thing most companies think of cutting. It’s true, traditional marketing is expensive, hard to measure and results cannot be tracked very accurately every time. However, for small business with small budgets, there are so many techniques and things to do that will bring in business without breaking the bank.

Elevator pitch – first things first, create your elevator pitch. Your sales team will be bringing in your clients so it is important that they know your product inside out and that they believe in your product because if they don’t, this will come across in their pitch. Practice your sales pitch as many times as is necessary and until your sales team is confident with what they are saying. Your pitch needs to be compelling, short and attention grabbing. With attention spans on the decrease, once you have engaged your prospect you have about a minute to sell your product so make sure that you come up with a killer elevator pitch. That one minute is your make or break moment.

Collateral – ensure your marketing collateral – flyers, brochures, business cards and any other material is consistent in terms of branding and the message you send across. Double check for spelling errors and typos before they go for print and distribute them every chance you get.

Collaborate with companies in your area – think of a group of companies that offer completely different products but target the same market. Cross promote, help each other out and create a little community where you can host events, work on coming together to promote each other and expand your customer base.

Network – networking can be time consuming and sometimes it can take months before you get anything back from it. Regardless, a strong network is a great asset and is essential for new business owners. Introduce yourself to other business owners, see how you can work together, hold workshops and get involved with the community. Networking can be done in so many different forms, it’s important to ensure you step out of your comfort zone and get your company out there.

Be a guest speaker or writer – find events where you can offer knowledge in the form of speeches so that people can learn more about you and your company. The same applies for guest writing on well known blogs. This positions you as a credible authority in your field.

Ask for referrals – ask your customers for referrals. Approach them nicely, tell them that you would appreciate if they could give you referrals or even reviews on platforms such as social media and your website and thank them for their time.

Build relationships – getting customers is extremely important but many companies overlook the importance of retaining existing customers. Speak to your customers on a regular basis to ensure they are happy. Take their concerns seriously and treat them with respect.

Special offers – have early bird discounts for new products, give out coupons, have a referral program that offers discounts and advertise these offers to get the word out. Free trials also work very well and most people would be happy to give you a good review if they are happy with your product after a free trial.

Build a database – from your very first enquiry, create a database of clients and potential clients and send them mail blasts, newsletters and other company news.

Social media – get active on social media. Join groups and communities, interact with other people, partake in conversations and become an active member of social society. Posting on social media is free so you can do it as often as you like provided the content is interesting, relevant and not considered spam.

Blog – start a blog on your website. Brainstorm with your team, gather ideas for topics and start writing. Blogging helps keep your website updated on a regular basis, improves search engine marketing and changes the way your customers perceive you.

7 ways to keep your customers happy

Pay attention to your customers and make your wrongs right – happy customers are your best marketing tool. Word of mouth marketing works so well for brands and can easily outweigh the benefits of other traditional marketing strategies. If there is an issue, interact with your customers directly, where possible, and see to it that the issue gets resolved. Happy customers that have their issues resolved stay happy customers. Have genuine interaction with your customers, mention your name at the beginning of the communication and address them by their name. Make the communication as personal as possible, a human factor can make a big difference. Always handle complaints and issues with respect.

Call your customers regularly – you don’t want to be that company that comes in strong and heavy with their sales techniques, nags and nags until they make a sale and then completely forget about that customer when that sale has been made. Have a dedicated team of people or account managers who can call clients regularly, see how things are going, if they are happy with the service and if they need any support. Ask them what they like about the product and thank them for their time when you finish. Always offer ongoing support.

Gather valuable information – to get a better understanding of your services from a customer’s point of view, gather information by getting their opinion. You can do this by observation, surveys, focus groups, social media and email and web forms. Take into consideration everything they have to say and use the positive side to market your strengths and any negative comments to improve your services.

Create valuable content – by sharing valuable, relevant information, you come across as being a market leader and a brand that can be trusted. People that see you as an authority in your field or a leader in your market will want to continue working with you. You can create valuable content through blogs, social media posts, newsletters, email blasts and more.

Timely response – not only must you ensure that your enquiries and complaints are handled in a timely manner, you must ensure that they are all attended to. No message from a client or potential client is insignificant or worth not replying to. Each message deserves a response that is professional, personal and informative. If you cannot answer their question, pass their enquiry onto someone that can but let them know that their enquiry has been received and is under review. Quick response times show that you are serious, reliable and able to prioritise.

Add a personal touch – a handwritten note along with your mail, a little gift item that has been personalised or something that will make your customer feel like they are of importance to you.

Be transparent and don’t overpromise – transparency means you have nothing to hide. Your word is your bond and following up with your promises helps to build a feeling of trust. You need to ensure that the goals that are set are realistic and can be met. It’s always better to under promise and over deliver because remember, unhappy customers share their experience with many more people than happy customers. Only take on clients that accept the realistic expectations you have set. Be clear and transparent by letting customers know what your product is all about, how you deliver, what the payment terms are and what they can expect from you.