The game of marketing your small business changes every year. SEO rules change, online marketing options improve, consumer behavior adjusts to new ways of doing business. But some marketing principles remain the same – especially when it comes to small business customer marketing. We pulled together our collective experience over here at FreshLime and we bring you 17 ways you can market your business to increase sales in 2017 – let us know what else you would add! We’d love to hear from you!

  1. Customer Engagement

Engaging with your customers is an effective and necessary way to ensure that you increase revenue for your business. Whether you’re reaching the 91% of consumers who check their email daily, or the 98% of consumers who read their text messages within two minutes of receiving them, you are sure to attract more business when you are staying fresh on their minds. Don’t let the customers you worked hard to earn end up hiring your competitor instead, simply because they couldn’t remember your name or contact information. Keeping yourself relevant with current customers is 4X more profitable than being hired by new ones.

  1. Increase Online Reviews

The internet is everything now – both on desktop and especially on mobile. If you’re not receiving positive reviews from your happy, loyal customers online, then you are losing a lot of money each year. It’s true! Nearly 80% of consumers do their research online before hiring a small business for their needs. Those consumers are much more likely to hire you if you have positive reviews to back up your great work. Don’t lose a customer simply because your competitor has more reviews online!

  1. Create Social Pages on Several Outlets

71% of consumers check their social media accounts daily. This means that social media is a quick and easy way to stay involved with your customers, although don’t be surprised that it takes a lot of effort. But it’s worth it – because one of the best parts about social media is that it’s organic marketing! There are definitely ways to pay to advertise and boost your message and they shouldn’t be ignored, but there is so much you can gain just by being yourself and authentically connecting with your followers. You can post images of your quality work, discounts and specials and other important business information on your social media pages. Your customers will thank you for making it so easy to contact you and find out more about your business because they are already on social – so you will be easy to find. Just make sure you respond to all inquiries and figure out what network is best for your business vertical.

  1. Start a Blog

Speaking of free and organic marketing, starting a blog is another great way to get your business name and information out there, while building your SEO and keeping relevant online. You may have heard of content marketing already, and it’s still all the rage. You don’t need to be a professional writer to get your company blog going. Just start the blog and let your creative juices flow. You can write about things specific to your business, or topics that are more broad and industry-related. Either way, a blog is just one more place to get your business information popping up online! Recently we spoke with an HVAC company in Texas who didn’t think a blog from them would be well-received. Wrong! You just have to figure out who your audience is, and then decide how best to connect with them.

  1. Host an Open House

Don’t be hesitant to host an open house and invite your customers to come see the place! They will gain more trust with you and your company the more they are around you. If they can see your office and enjoy some hot cocoa, doughnuts, or drinks for Happy Hour, they will be grateful. Offer some sort of incentive to get people through the door and post your specials, or any products you have for sale out on the floor. It’s a great way to draw attention to your business with customers, new and old! You can also make this a tradition and host something once a month or once every other month. It gives you something to blog about and a reason to send out more correspondence. If you don’t have a physical location to host a get together, never fear! Bring the party to them! A little gesture goes a long way when you think outside the box and give something away – just make it creative!

  1. Send out an SMS campaign asking people to verify their info and opt-in

Sending out an SMS campaign and asking your past customers to verify their information and opt-in for specials and deals is a quick and easy way to get your customer engagement started and kills two birds with one stone on cleaning up your marketable contacts’ list. You can send out a one-time text message asking people to reply with their email address, in order to receive any news about upcoming deals. People love that they are in control of the conversation, and they can receive discounts just for joining. This will get you the information you need for future email marketing, and also help you hold on to that loyal customer-base, beginning with some quick engagement. Keep in mind that this is a good thing to do and schedule a few times a year, not just once. It’s also OK to let go of the few who have moved or respond that they don’t want to communicate – it’s better to have active engagement with those that do want to hear from you. You will get more out of it in the long run!

  1. Start a newsletter

Just like your blog, starting a newsletter doesn’t need to be anything fancy or time-consuming. Send out a monthly, bi-monthly or even quarterly newsletter giving an update on your business and pricing. If you’re running any specials, this is a great place to advertise that. Having a newsletter helps your customers to feel more in-the-know, while also keeping you fresh in their minds. Make sure you keep the main part of the content relevant to how your business can help them, but you can also include creative and fun information that they can look forward to – recipes, info on local events, and other human interest info that might attract them to your service if they aren’t in the market for a carpet cleaning. Hook them with something else and when the timing is right they will think of you.

  1. Automate a marketing campaign

When your marketing campaign is automated, your life becomes much easier as a business owner. If you can make your marketing work for you in a quick and easy way, why not take advantage of that? Marketing is the key to a successful business, and coming up with a great marketing strategy and having the numbers to back it up is going to earn you extra cash this year.

  1. Consider postcards!

Postcards are a cheap and fun way to get the word out about your business, or a special, without having to spend a lot of time. You can engage with your customers through catchy postcard designs, and useful information. It may seem old school to use snail mail, but trust us, it can work really well. And it’s all part of the bigger picture – bring some variety to your marketing strategy and you will hit people where they are most likely to respond to your efforts. A good response rate on postcard outreach can hit up to 5% for an active and engaged customer list.

  1.  Keep Transaction & Customer Records

Keeping track of your records helps you to know exactly what is coming in, and what is going out as far as your company’s revenue. It’s something so important, but unfortunately, many business owners fail to keep up with their records and keep track of the data. Not only will this help you know where your money is coming from, to better help you address your marketing needs, but it will also help you to keep track of where your money is going and what is actually working to build your business – it’s called marketing attribution. Understanding your true marketing attribution helps you cut out on meaningless spending and strategically put your dollars into something with a greater return. Knowing where your customer base is coming from, and how frequently your customers are utilizing your business will help you better understand what is working for you, and where you can improve.

  1. Manage & Understand Your Data

Keeping track of your transaction and customer data is step one when it comes to managing your data. It’s important that you can take action that is best for your business based on the data that you have stored. If you know that certain months are your slowest months, you know that is the time you need customer engagement the most. If you can see which marketing efforts are working and which aren’t, you will be better able to effectively use your business’ marketing money. Understanding your data is a whole different story, but it’s extremely important when it comes to adding to, and managing your company’s money. When you run a small business, there is little wiggle room and no room for error. Don’t feel threatened by your data. Instead, make your Key Performance Indicators work for you.

  1. Launch a Referrals Campaign

Repeat customers are 10x more likely to tell a friend or family member about your business. The best kind of advertising is word-of-mouth, because it comes from a trusty source. When your customers trust and love your business, they are much more likely to spread that around to their circle. If you can create an incentive and make it easy for your customers to spread the word about your business, you’ll be in a good spot. Offer your customers a discount on a future service for each new customer they send your way, or send them a thank you letter with coupons for referring your business to someone they know. It will go a long way!

  1. Keep Online Profiles Up-To-Date

Just as important as creating those social media and online profiles accurate so people can find your business, keeping them up to date is also essential. Make sure your business information including address, contact information and business hours are always kept relevant. Make sure your customers are finding correct information online so they can utilize your business as frequently as possible. Many of these online directories are also reviews portals – the more updated you are, the more legit you look, the more reviews you can collect that will make a difference in your sales numbers. If you have a logo or before/after images of your work, those are important to keep relevant as well. Helping your customers recognize your business online is a great and necessary first step!

  1. Incentivize your employees to develop better customer relationships

Time and time again, customer service has been proven to be the top factor when it comes to a happy business relationship. When you incentivize your employees to build more positive, lasting customer relationship, you are in-turn incentivizing your customers to become loyal and lifelong business. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on your incentive, instead just offer a gift card or a small bonus for the most positive feedback. You could even try just talking to your employees, friend to friend, and asking them to develop these relationships as a favor to you, the business and the customer.

  1. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience means you know your customers, and you understand their needs. When you know what they need, when they need it, you become someone very trustworthy and important to them. Your business is what saves them time, money and stress and you need to ensure they know that. When you are engaging with your customers, pay attention to the information they’re sharing with you about their needs. You can, once again, use your data to better understand your customers, which will help increase sales. Don’t let something as small as not paying attention become something that makes your business lose money this year.

  1. Do a drip campaign to your top 20 prospects the first 6 weeks of 2017

Have you ever tried a drip campaign? It’s basically a way to consistently stay in touch with your prospects so that you will be in the front of their mind when it’s the right timing for your service/product. If they don’t immediately need your service than it’s a way to convince them that they do – one drip at a time. A drip campaign focused on your Top 20 prospects with 6 different steps is a great way to get started and you can build from there! There are a lot of creative ideas out there or you can start brainstorming on your own – either way get it scheduled, pick your Top 20 and get going!

  1. Get cookies with your logo printed on top – no one will forget that!

People love food, especially when it’s free. This might seem like something small and silly, but it really will go a long way with your customers. Let them know they are appreciated with a treat that is also broadcasting your business at the same time. There’s no reason to avoid simple things that could really be beneficial. If you’re stuck trying to figure out a way to thank your customers, and do something to attract attention to your business, this is a great place to start!

These are just 17 ways your company can make more money in 2017. In a few short days I will be putting on a free webinar where I tell you my favorite 5 that will make a huge difference in your marketing this year. You can register HERE. Do you have more awesome marketing ideas? Let me know – I’d love to hear from you!

Jay Bean, Founder & CEO FreshLime