Successful marketing is a multipart process

Published in The Tennessean April 20, 2015

By Ed Rappuhn – SCORE Nashville

“I thought word-of-mouth and Facebook would be sufficient to grow my business, but I was wrong. What should I do?”

Word-of-mouth helps grow a business, but it’s rarely enough. Let’s look at some other marketing strategies.

There are many social media alternatives beyond Facebook. Linkedin, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram are just a few. The trick is to use the best platforms for your offerings and your market. Provide interesting content in social media posts; if you treat social media as simply an advertising platform, people won’t be engaged and may even block your posts. Blog posts, stand-alone or in conjunction with social media, can help tell your story.

Did you know YouTube is now the second largest search engine behind Google with over 1 billion users? Embed YouTube videos in your websites and share them in social media posts. You can create a YouTube video using your smart phone. But don’t list product features and benefits; include entertainment, real-life experiences, or some interesting information to motivate viewers to share and respond. And keep the videos short!

Use your business card to promote your business. If you are a CPA, add some information about the work you do; for example, QuickBooks expert, personal, business and estate tax planning and preparation. If you are in the creative business, your card should be colorful, oddly shaped or include a witty saying.

Traditional media advertising still works, but many small businesses quit too soon. It takes several exposures before a potential customer will notice an ad, much less take action. Good radio jingles have helped many small businesses grow. A print ad appearing in the same location several weeks in a row can lead to recognition and action. With the proliferation of cable channels, TV ads can be bought for less than ever before. But make sure your ads will reach your target audience.

Even better than paid advertising, do you have a story to tell? Newspapers, magazines and TV news programs love to share interesting stories.

Proper content, subject lines and timing make personalized and targeted direct mail tremendously effective. You can also use text messages to run promotions for customers that opt in.

Read Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson. Now in its 4 th edition with over thirty targeted versions, his books help you “achieve conventional goals, such as profits and joy, with unconventional methods, such as investing energy instead of money.” Levinson provides a wealth of no-cost and low-cost alternatives to traditional marketing.

In the end, marketing tactics are only as good as your product or service. You need to provide top quality service if you want customers to return. It’s a whole lot easier and cheaper to keep good customers than to attract new ones.

Ed Rappuhn is a mentor, workshop facilitator, and the past-chair of SCORE Nashville. SCORE mentors guide entrepreneurs in starting and growing their businesses. Sign up for a free SCORE mentor, find out about our reasonably priced workshops and other services, or volunteer to become a SCORE member at www.scorenashville.org .