Something Old, Something New

When it comes to small-business marketing, the focus has largely shifted to online outlets—with good reason. Email and social-media channels enable high-impact, cost-effective messaging. However, it’s important that your online efforts stay rooted in marketing basics.

Here’s how to keep customers engaged by combining contemporary tools with old-school marketing strategies:

Incorporate Happy Customers into Your Marketing

Today a lot of us find old-fashioned commercials with customer testimonials to be cheesy, but online testimonials still hold a great deal of sway. A 2012 Nielsen report showed that online consumer reviews are the second most-trusted source of brand information and messaging. SmartWool, a company that sells products that aren’t typically visible on their wearers, took advantage of that customer-to-customer trust by employing a Facebook campaign called “Strip to Your SmartWool” comprising customer-submitted photos of SmartWool products in action. You too can pull your happy customers into your marketing: use their photos (with permission) on Facebook or your blog, ask for their feedback, and give them credit publicly when you take their advice.

Get Closer to Your Customers with a CRM Tool

Building a close relationship with your customers is one of the many benefits of small business, and you always want to keep your customer base growing. Use a good CRM tool to keep track of your customers beyond the sales funnel. You’ll know which of your services and products they prefer, how—and how often—they interact with you, their purchase histories, and more. You can also offer them targeted discounts or free gifts on special occasions such as birthdays and holidays. The better you know your customers, the better you can meet their needs.

Add Value

A popular old-school way to keep your brand top-of-mind is by promoting it on useful items like pens, pads of paper, or T-shirts. Today you can also add value with useful online content. Combine your knowledge of your customers with your brand’s personality to offer compelling content that your customers are sure to use and share with friends. Crate & Barrel’s highly engaging marketing program offers a lot of fun, free stuff online and in its catalogs. For example, in its Winner&Is campaign, Crate & Barrel provided product-driven advice on which bar accessories and tableware to buy for an Oscar viewing party, but it also added value with access to free invitations from Paperless Post, a downloadable movie trivia game, and a recipe for pomegranate yogurt dip. Providing valuable tips, free downloads, and links to relevant resources is free and maximizes online shareability.

Samantha Carlin
<div> Samantha is an expert on small business advertising and manager of marketing communications on Groupon's Merchant Marketing team. She contributes regularly to the Groupon Merchant Blog. Previously, Samantha worked at an airport security start-up.</div> <div> <a href="" target="_blank"> </a><a href="" target="_blank"> </a>|<a href="" target="_blank"> </a><a href="" target="_blank">Groupon Merchant Blog</a> | <a href="" target="_blank">@GrouponWorks </a>| <a href="/author/samantha-carlin/all-posts" target="_blank">More from Samantha</a></div>


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