A stroll to your corner bakery can teach you five marketing tips for small business that will make your products and services unforgettable.
Don’t have a corner bakery?
That’s OK. Take a virtual stroll with me to a cozy, well-lit bakery along a busy street. It’s just a few blocks from your front door.
You make every excuse you can to stop by. You duck into their doorway several times a week, and always leave with a bag in hand.
Why? What’s the big attraction?
Can you get marketing tips for small business from a simple bakery visit?
Yes, you can.
This little bakery does a lot of things right. They’re simple things, really, and they go way beyond flour and yeast.
In fact, none of the marketing tips for small business in this article have to do with the quality of the bakery’s product, which is about the same as what you get in your local grocery store.
What’s their secret? What draws a steady stream of customers through their doors?
1. Friendly greetings make a connection
You enjoy going to the corner bakery because after a few visits, they know your face, and what you like to order.
It’s a lot more enjoyable to do business with a person you can interact with than with a shelf at the grocery store, right?
Use this marketing tip for your business, too.
Find ways to say hello to your customers. (Not sure who your customers are? Here’s how to find your ideal customer.)
A simple way to do this is to write a friendly welcome message for your email marketing list subscribers.
Get to know what they’re most interested in by segmenting your email list to see what people respond to.
Run promotions and keep a record of who buys what.
Keep the lines of communication open. It goes without saying that you should greet customers with a smile when they come through your door, whether that’s a door with hinges or a virtual door.
And if your business is 100% online, respond promptly to email and queries. Let them know there’s a person on the other side of that website.
2. Always be tempting
The key to fresh, effective marketing is to make sure you’re always tempting your market with something new.
Is whole grain the latest craze? If you’re a baker, you develop a line of whole-grain-based breads, rolls and pizza crusts, right?
Create services and products that meet the needs and desires of the people who frequent your business.
Not sure what they want? Strike up a conversation, or take a survey. Invite your best customers to a cup of coffee, or ask them for 15 minutes on the phone.
The time you spend listening will help you to create tempting offerings that keep them coming back for more.
3. Let them catch the scent
Smart bakeries (like our bakery down the street) open their doors wide when the weather permits to advertise all that fresh-baked goodness to everyone within smelling distance. It doesn’t cost them anything to open the door.
One of my marketing tips for small business owners is to do the same thing. And you can “share the scent” for little to no investment.
Entice your customers by making your company accessible through social media. Let them know the latest happenings, and keep them up-to-date on new promotions.
Don’t sell all the time, though. Social media works best when it’s a mix of conversation, content and promotion.
The percentage will vary depending on your business, but suffice it to say that no one wants to follow an account that’s pure advertising messages.
So talk, share and sell to keep your “scent” in the air without annoying people.
4. Remember to offer day-old bread
Do you have products that aren’t selling? Find a way to move them off your shelves by marking them down. Even better, bundle them with your other offerings and make them into a package deal.
If some of your services haven’t been a hit, you don’t necessarily need to ditch them altogether. Try combining them with other services to make a completely different offering that’s better than before.
That’s what our bakery does.
That day-old bread they sell at 50% off always has takers. And their bread pudding, croutons and stuffing mix are really just unsold merchandise that’s repackaged into something even better.
5. Use the Baker’s Dozen concept for loyal, repeat customers
You’ve got to love it when you buy a dozen of something and the baker throws an extra in the bag.
It wouldn’t be the same if she said “$6.99 for 13.” Somehow “$6.99 for a dozen, plus you get one for free” sounds like a much better deal.
Everyone loves freebies, after all. How can you incorporate this idea into your marketing?
Find a way to add value to your products by adding bonuses that make the product even better.
If you sell services, what can you give away that doesn’t cost much but adds tremendous value to your current offerings?
The Baker’s Dozen bonus will leave your customers with a smile on their lips. And guess who they’ll think of the next time they need to make a referral?
There are marketing tips for small business all over. Notice how you respond to the businesses you interact with and learn from what they’re doing right.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published on September 7, 2011 and has been updated with the latest information.