As I mentioned in my previous post, I am a strong believer that marketing is the life blood of a business. Your company may provide the best service that there is a demand for but there is absolutely no point if nobody knows about it. You can still be successful if you have a strong sales team and referrals from existing customers but I believe that the more sources of customers you have, the better.
On the other hand, one of your competitors could be providing a service at a level significantly lower than what you offer but might get incredible sales just because they know how to market the service. I know of many companies that have extremely impressive sales revenue even though their products are mediocre at best.
So, where shall we start?
First, let me ask you this: What do you usually do when you want to find details of something you are interested in? For example, when setting up bank account for your business what did you do first? I think that 9 out of 10 people would have searched for their options online. I think this is the same in any industry so getting a website built for your business would be one of the first things I would do. Unless web design is your “thing” I would get professional help here. I don’t know how many times I disregarded a product or service just because their website looked bad and untrustworthy. As long as you are not planning to do something complex within your website the cost shouldn’t be too high.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Now that you have a website, the next thing (which is the most important) is to get your website found. If you have experience with building new websites in the past, you will understand that it is no easy task to get people to visit your website. SEO is the process where your website is optimized in a way that gains visibility in the search engines’ organic search results (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.). Since this is what enabled us to scale our own business, I will try to write a separate post in the future that goes into more details.
Whenever you search for something in Google, Yahoo, or Bing, have you noticed that the top 3~4 spots of the results are ads? This can be a quite quick and efficient way of getting your business found. The downside of this in my opinion is that (1) the percentage of people that clicks the Ad are quite low (I never click them…) and (2) the moment you stop paying for this service you lose all the visibility.
Social Media Marketing
This is quite straight forward, it is the use of social media platforms to promote your business and engage with your customers. An example would be to use Facebook, Twitter, etc.
I have not tried this yet; however, I am doing some research on this right now since we have decided to invest in FB advertising. If you think about it, Facebook has so many users and they have access to all the users’ daily lives (age, gender, where they live, where they work, what they like to do, etc.) meaning that they’ll be able to target highly relevant potential customers.
These are the more “traditional” or “orthodox” types of marketing. Personally, we didn’t use much offline marketing in our business since it was harder to track and the pricing didn’t make sense to us. However, I will list down some of the common offline marketing types below:
This is putting articles or advertisements in your local Newspapers, magazines, etc. This can get your business seen by a large population; however, it is highly untargeted compared to the options I mentioned in the online marketing section.
TV and Radio
Again, this has the potential of reaching a large amount of people in your target area. So, if your target is branding it could be a way to go; however, do not expect highly targeted customers calling you in volume. Note: These methods tend to be relatively pricey.
This can reach specific geographic locations well in volume; however, the same problem (from our point of view) remains: They are highly untargeted. For example, we get dozens of DMs about nurseries in our area. Bad news is, our kid in middle school, we have no intentions of getting another child, and I don’t read or speak Cantonese (the flier was in Cantonese).
When you look at Hong Kong island from Tsim Sha Tsui you will notice a lot of colorful billboards on top of the buildings. These definitely catch your eye but you will also notice that the advertisers are all big global companies like Toshiba, Canon, MGM, etc. More “normal sized” billboards exist but these are also dominated by companies like Apple, Samsung, Mercedes Benz, etc. The bottom line is they are costly and targeted at the mass market usually related with branding. Bus, minibus, and taxis also offer advertisement opportunities if there is any interest there.
I personally like this method a lot. It gives businesses the opportunity to meet like-minded, potential customers in person. These can be large scale conventions or simply an invent you make through online services like meetup.com. You will reach fewer people but the people who attend the event will be highly targeted.
I will go into details of selected individual methods that I believe is most efficient in future posts.