LIST BUILDING & CONTACT RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS: Building a list of current contacts, as well as past and prospective customers, is fundamental to a successful marketing plan. Segmenting the various customers in your list, will allow you to best leverage your list of through the use of a Contact Relationship Management (CRM) system that integrates with your email system to keep track of correspondence, set reminders, trigger posts in social media, etc. Recommended CRMs include Highrise HQ, Insightly, Contactually and Sales Force, just to name a few. Adding pertinent information to each new contact’s record, such as what product or service the individual expressed interest in, will be valuable later when you offer promotions via email marketing. Lastly, creating a sign-up form and subscriber incentive on your website will help grow your list and the potential for obtaining more customers.
EMAIL MARKETING is still one of the most effective tools for reaching out to and following-up with customers and potential customers, if used correctly. Besides having your list segmented, it’s crucial for your emails to clearly represent your unique brand, be delivered regularly and offer helpful information for your readers. Creating an email template will provide consistency, building a familiarity with your audience that will ultimately increase the likelihood of them opening and reading your emails.
Some important tips to remember as you create an email include:
- Clearly identify yourself in the “From” line;
- Be specific in your “Subject” line as to what the content is all about;
- Provide an opt-out link so readers have the option (and it’s the law);
- Don’t spam! Only send to your subscribers.
Your email marketing campaigns should ultimately incorporate your blog, social media, and lead capture strategies. Notable platforms include Constant Contact and MailChimp.
CONTENT MARKETING is another extremely valuable component of any successful marketing plan. Your blog is your home base for all of your content, and provides links to direct your audience back to your website. Most engaging content is brief yet packed with information. Some examples of effective content types include YouTube videos, podcasts, articles, eBooks and interviews. Establishing relationships with editors of key publications can also expand the reach of your content and rapidly build your audience.
SOCIAL MEDIA is also an indisputable component of any successful marketing strategy. Here we want to connect individually with our audience and build relationships that will create a following. A number of post scheduling tools are available such as Hootsuite and Bufferapp, allowing you to engage more consistently with less effort. And always remember to personally check in on your social media platforms at least once or twice a day to respond to comments and engage with your community.
The most common social media channels include Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. Those most effective for you will depend on your business focus and the demographics of your audience. If your products lend themselves to visual promotion, Pinterest or Instagram may be for you. If your promotions are more content driven, LinkedIn will be very effective. Take your pick to or employ them all, but use them and do so regularly. Join those groups on Facebook and LinkedIn where your audience gathers. Build relationships by supporting others, commenting on active threads and offering your expertise. Posting photos and videos along with your content regularly can be a highly effective tactic in any marketing strategy. The goal is engagement and lots of it! The more engagement your posts receive, the more visible they will become in the newsfeeds of your followers.
STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS can open doors to new audiences and promote your business on a much wider scale. There are many types of collaborative ventures such as hosting a webinar or sharing a booth at a trade show. Things to consider when building collaborative partnerships include:
- Identify those individuals with whom you already have a solid relationship, and who provide complementary but not competitive services or products;
- Ideally they should have an extensive contact list and an engaged audience;
- Brainstorm to outline how you will join your services and products;
- Sample each other’s products and services;
- Create a solid agreement.
The possibilities are endless and so are the benefits of such strategic partnerships. Being creative and bold will open up new and exciting marketing options and potential business for both partners.
A great way to promote such partnerships is by sending out a press release. Press releases are brief and to the point and can reach a large audience of new followers with similar interests. Be sure to include a personal introduction to each press release and information about you and your website. Overtime, growing your media relations will help you gain even more significant exposure.
In summary, your strategic marketing plan needs to be hand-crafted to best meet the needs of your individual business. It is not a cookie-cutter, one plan fits all. The strategies and tools described above are available to all, and implementing them with creativity, focus and dedication will lead you to success greater than you’d ever imagined.
Stay tuned for the final installment of this series, where we’ll outline the best methods for “Measuring the success of your efforts and putting it all together.”
Carol Aldridge is a Marketing Consultant & Administrative Support Specialist serving the equine industry for over 20 years. Her clients across the United States and Canada enjoy customized business support services designed to relieve workload pressure, streamline office procedures and maximize marketing results.
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