Many small companies can't afford a full-time marketing person, but with some careful research and planning,a Divide and Conquer approach works just as well. By involving everyone in the company in your marketing efforts, you might find that people have all kinds of hidden talents and will actually enjoy contributing to the marketing effort.
The first step of any marketing strategy is to set goals and determine the mix of online and offline tactics. Your website, company newsletter and social media channels comprise the online side of the plan. Direct mail, brochures, catalogues, posters, postcards and letters are on the offline list.
Combining strategies is essential because every customer and client has their own particular preferences. Some people love email marketing and newsletters, others delete them automatically. Some keep brochures and business cards on their desk. And remember, not everyone is on Twitter. So you don't want to focus all your efforts on one form of marketing communication.
Once you've created the marketing plan, ask staffers what they would like to do to contribute. Play to their strengths. For example, if your twentysomething shipping clerk is all about social media, ask him or her to set up the company Twitter account and maintain a Facebook fan page. Customizing these pages with your company logo and color scheme is easy and important. For more, check out customtwit.com.
Your front office person, receptionist or inside sales manager is probably the person dealing the most with clients and customers. So they should probably be the person who distributes brochures, catalogues or coupons. Ask the person who sends out invoices(probably your bookkeeper) to insert appropriate marketing materials in every invoice that your company sends out — big companies do this all the time. Include marketing material in every order you ship out as well.
Whoever is responsible for maintaining and updating your contact database could be the perfect person to distribute a monthly e-newsletter. You can build a cool e-newsletter template with pbSmart Connections email marketing software.
And if they aren't the best writer, ask other team members to contribute tips and articles. Once you determine who is the most effective writer, ask them to write one or two short blog posts a month for your company website and newsletter. Pushing out great content with links back to specific landing pages is the best way to build traffic and increase your ranking on search engines. Remember, a good blog post contains something interesting or thought-provoking about your industry or products — it's not a sales pitch.
Finally, appoint someone to be your in-house researcher. They need to keep track of your competition by visiting their websites at least once a week and, if possible, ordering their products. (You can also ask a friend or relative to order products and return them after you check them out.)
If you sell a retail product, ask another employee to visit stores on a regular basis or tryhiringmystery shoppers. These professional shoppers provide great insights and information. One of the most successful business owners I know makes private label frozen pizza for club stores and supermarket chains. And no matter where we are going, we usually stop first at one or two stores to check on her products as well as her competition. It is critically important to have a strong sense of your marketplace.
Finally, if you can't find people to every one of these marketing tasks, you can hire a freelancer to fill in the gaps.
The entire line of pbSmart products makes completing your small business marketing mix affordable and easy. Learn more here.
Jane Applegate is an expert on small business marketing. She is the author of 201 Great Ideas for Your Small Business and can be followed at http://201greatideas.com/Jane is not a Pitney Bowes employee and shares her insights on this blog as a paid contributor.