A multiple award winner from Florida Public Relations Association revealed some important marketing ways to improve your business in a budget conscience manner at the Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon at Charley's Boathouse Grill Thursday.
Susan Bennett of Susan Bennett Marketing and Media, Inc. was quick to point out that everyone is responsible for marketing their business. She has picked up 180 awards from FPRA.
"Whether you have the title of marketing director or not, anyone in business is responsible for marketing," she said. "From the person at the front desk to the janitor to the owner of the business, we are all responsible because we reflect the image of the company. Today, we have so many more avenues that we can approach from a marketing perspective."
Susan Bennett of Susan Bennett Marketing and Media, Inc. informs Beach Chamber business members about several marketing methods that any business can implement for minimal or no cost. She was the guest speaker at the chamber monthly luncheon at Charley's Boathouse Grill Thursday. Sandra Lepley, Chamber Ambassador of the month, listens in.
Bennett related the last comment to statistics about where customers come from in this new age: some 25 percent believe that the Internet has ALWAYS existed; 40 percent don't remember working without computers; 50 percent don't remember the Vietnam war; 60 percent living in the U.S. feel that people have always been on the moon; and 80 percent don't remember before television.
"Our customers are getting younger and younger. Our marketing approach has to change too," she said.
She reviewed a list she comprised about low-cost marketing ideas (see box on this page) and highlighted a few points. Number one on the list is the most important, according to Bennett.
"Nothing beats one-on-one contact with a customer," she emphasized. "People are able to put a face with a name, get to know you a little more personally and more likely to do business with you if they feel like they know you."
She challenged everyone to meet someone new every day of the year. After 40 years in marketing, Bennett still loves marketing and meeting new people.
"You'll never know when that person will be in the market for your business. Maybe not today, but they will be tomorrow," she said. "If you have 10 employees, that is over 3,000 new customer contact per year. And, it's free."
Bennett discussed other points, like attending a chamber event, sponsoring a charitable event for exposure, watch the news for national announcements that offer a local angle, target your advertising dollars to match your maketing demographic and wear your advertising.
"I can attest to the fact that weekly newspapers are far more cost effective than a bigger dynamic of the entire market," she said. "Wearing your advertising is a great idea. It's the cost of shirt. Another thought is to put placards on your car. How less expensive that is than putting it on a bus or a billboard."
Bennett takes 10 minutes each morning and evening to do social media, either Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or other forms. If you choose, the Beach Chamber offers that service for a reasonable fee.
"Designate certain times of the day for social media," she said. "If you spend all day doing it, it is not an effective use of your time."
Having a current website is also an important way of marketing.
"Do something with your website to change it every couple of weeks," said Bennett. "So it looks like you have fresh content."
Another extremely important everyday measure to improve marketing your business is carry your business cards with you EVERYWHERE.
"Now, I don't go anywhere without a business card," she said after telling a story about being without one at poolside and then striking up a conversation with a potential customer.
She then asked the business luncheon attendees about what is more important: what your know or how to handle people. The answer is the latter.
"Success in business is 85 percent people skills and only 15 percent is technical knowledge," said Bennett. "The greatest tool in your marketing arsenal is you and how you are out there presenting yourself day in and day out. Nobody is better than selling your product than your are. Nothing replaces that one-on-one marketing.
"Believe in yourself and be confident, and you will succeed."
20 low-cost marketing ideas that won't bust the bank
1. Nothing beats one-on-one contact with a potential customer. Make it a priority on each day to meet someone new. Perfect your 20-second introduction.
2. Start a referral program among existing customers. Ask them for the names and addresses of friends who may be interested in the product or service you have to offer. Thank them with a small gift.
3. Attend a Chamber of Commerce event for the networking value and target three people you'd like to meet while there. Follow up with a phone call the next day.
4. Conduct seminars for customers. Invite them to bring a friend.
5. Sponsor a charitable event for the exposure. No cash? How about a in-kind gift?
6. Create a quarterly e-newsletter for customers with news about your business and your industry and how it impacts your customers. Add to your mailing list everyone you've met through outside networking opportunities.
7. Send news releases when you have an award, a promotion or a new service to announce.
8. Watch the news for national announcements that need a local angle.
9. Send an article from a national publication to a potential customer with a hand-written note- "Thought you'd find this of interest." It shows the potential customer that you are thinking of him or her and offers yet another opportunity for contact.
10. Target your advertising dollars to match your marketing demographic. Most of the weekly newspapers and industry-specific publications (such as Gulfshore Business) are more cost-effective than larger mass media that blanket Southwest Florida.
11. Wear your advertising! A logo on a shirt (and even a portable billboard on your car) will be seen by thousands of potential customers.
12. Consider "combo marketing" with a complimentary business or service.
13. Develop marketing partnerships with non-competing businesses.
14. Create a page on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and a Google+ profile. Make time to interact with others every day. Add them to your business cards.
15. Keep your website current. Change content regularly to increase its ranking with the search engines.
16. Go mobile: 46 percent of searches now take place on smartphones.
17. Write a blog - it's a great way to connect with customers and share about your business.
18. Monitor your online reputation. Google Analytics is a good place to start.
19. Carry your business card with you everywhere. You never know who you are going to meet.
20. Thank your customers again and again you can't say it often enough.
Treat customers with respect. They are the reason you are in business!
--list provided by Susan Bennett Marketing and Media, L.C.