Especially in the wake of a global pandemic that sent everyone home, it can seem like everything is online these days. You can order food online. You can schedule a haircut online. You can even borrow and read library books online. With digital marketing tactics like Google ads, chatbots, and personalized LinkedIn messages, are relational marketing tactics even necessary anymore?
We think yes. Digital marketing doesn’t replace your relationships and reputation, or vice versa.
In fact, small businesses benefit from a small business marketing strategy that combines the two. Before you determine how much weight you will give to each, you need to keep a few things in mind.
Know Your Business and Your Audience
Some small businesses market themselves silly with digital advertising. But if their product or service requires a high level of trust, digital marketing alone won’t be enough to drive a good ROI.
For example, if you’re an estate lawyer, you need to earn a high level of trust with potential clients before they will trust you with constructing the future plan for their possessions and finances. Here, digital advertising alone won’t build enough trust. You need to work on building relationships.
Conversely, if you’re an online retailer of women’s clothing, prioritizing personal relationships (though still important!) above your digital presence won’t get your brand or products in front of enough people fast enough for you to achieve a good conversion rate and profitability.
Understanding your type of businesses and what it takes for people to convert with you might require some audience analysis. Identifying your target audiences and developing audience personas will go a long way toward helping you know what balance your small business’s marketing strategy needs.
Read our article on small business marketing strategies to learn more about audience analysis.
Relational Tactics for Marketing Your Small Business
Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce
By joining your local chamber of commerce, you jump into an established network of local businesses. Various events and networking groups within your chamber can help you build relationships with other businesses in town – important whether you are a B2B or B2C company.
As you navigate through all the networking opportunities in your chamber, try to choose the events and networking groups that will potentially provide connections that can grow your business. If you’re a HVAC company, joining a networking group of law firms and accountants might not be the best use of your time.
With a pre-planned elevator pitch, you help people quickly understand your business and its services. If you need help boiling your business and its services down to a 30 second sound bite, give us a call. We can help.
Develop Symbiotic Referral Relationships
Joining your chamber also provides the opportunity to market your small business through other businesses whose customer base intersects with yours. You can form a relationship where you send customers to them, and they send customers to you. Here, you’ve already overcome a barrier of trust because the customer is coming to you through a referral from a business they already trust.
For example, if you offer bookkeeping services, you could consider forming a referral relationship with a local bank whose clients would benefit from your services and your clients would benefit from theirs.
Host an Open House
Hosting an open house is a great way to bring people to your business if you have office space or a store front. You can meet in person and shake hands (or not, considering the times). And, it gives people the opportunity to learn about your business in person, in a casual setting.
Host a Webinar
Sometimes, people just need to see you in action before they are willing to trust you with the service you offer. Offering a webinar is a good way to establish rapport by demonstrating that you are knowledgeable through both the material presented and questions answered.
If you’ve been developing a symbiotic relationship with another business, you can offer this webinar to their clients who might benefit from your services.
Send Thank You Notes
Sending a thank you note is a tried and true way to let people know that you care and appreciate the time (and hopefully money!) they’ve invested in your small business. If another business sends you a great referral, send a thank you note. If someone attends your webinar, send a thank you note. Thank you notes are simple, but go a long way.
Want more ideas? Read this article on small business marketing through networking.
Integrating Digital and Relational Tactics for Marketing Your Small Business
Develop a Customer Relationship Management System
Does keeping track of potential clients and referral relationships within digital and relational marketing make you feel a little bit overwhelmed? With a cloud based CRM, you don’t need to keep a legal pad shoved in your desk or scramble to find that business card.
You can set up funnels and automations, reminders of when you need to call or send an email to that lead, and more. Multiple CRM platforms exist like Active Campaign and HubSpot. If choosing a platform or setting it up sounds like a daunting task, we can help you find one that fits your needs and budget.
Design Printed Materials
When building your network, you need to have materials to hand out that say something about who you are, look consistent with the rest of your brand, and include messaging coherent with all your other content. At a minimum, you’ll probably need:
- Business cards with your business logo, website, social channels, and contact info.
- Rack cards and flyers that explain the service or product you’re promoting.
Though many small businesses opt to design these themselves, first impressions are important, and DIY materials can lack the polish you need to put your best foot forward. We can take these graphics design tasks off your plate, help you choose the right printer, and place the order for you. If your business card includes your social profiles, we can even help make your profile professional and updated.
Promote In Person Events and Webinars
In most cases, promoting your event or webinar by word-of-mouth or by posting once on Facebook won’t be sufficient to drive enough attendees. Digital marketing can be the megaphone you need for telling the right people about your event or webinar. You will likely need:
- Landing pages where you can snag email addresses for future nurturing campaigns, newsletters, and more.
- Automated email campaigns to remind registrants that the event is coming up and to send a thank you email afterwards.
- Regular social media reminders of the upcoming event or webinar.
Partnering with our digital marketing team can take these tasks off your or your marketing team’s workload. We can even write a press release if your event merits it.
What’s Your Small Business’s Relational and Digital Marketing Balance?
Most small business marketing strategies need some balance between relational and digital tactics. When these tactics work together, they can accelerate your growth and deliver long-term profitability. If you’re struggling to strike the right balance for your business, we invite you to schedule a no-obligation, marketing consultation with one of our consultants.
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