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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

Using social media to attract business customers - checklist

Social networks offer an excellent way to connect with business customers - but you must present a professional, credible face. Here's how to make the right impression.

  • Identify which social media platforms your target customers are using - these are likely to be business networking sites such as SunZu (previously Ecademy) and LinkedIn and could also include social networking sites such as Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
  • Use search engines and search functions within different social media to target specific business people and locate their social media profiles.
  • Research how your customers are using social media - consider if they use them to make contacts, find out about industry developments, research products and services, or sell to their own customers.
  • Devise a strategy for using social media in your business - set measurable and realistic objectives and goals for your marketing.
  • Create a profile on your chosen platform/s, including brief essential details about who you are and what you do, and add a link to your website.
  • Engage potential customers by stressing how your offer can help their business.
  • Apply your branding guidelines to your profiles to maintain consistency and establish your visual identity quickly.
  • Engage with customers in a way that is appropriate to the platform - for example, the way you engage on LinkedIn is likely to be more professional by comparison with Facebook. For businesses active across many social networking platforms, it's worth finding a consistent tone of voice that matches your own brand objectives and is appropriate for your audience on each site.
  • Find out how you can use your chosen platform to make a connection with target individuals. With LinkedIn, for example, this is likely to mean researching their profile to find out which discussion groups they belong to and joining these.
  • Use groups, forums and blogs to demonstrate relevant expertise and knowledge, and to pose and answer questions about your industry.
  • Don't force your product or service on potential customers, but show them that you are a credible supplier by sharing your knowledge and helping others.
  • Make it easy for people to find you - so when posting in forums or commenting on blogs include a link to your website, your blog, your social media profile/s, and so on.
  • Use relevant keywords about your sector, product or service. These will be picked up by search engines and make it easier for potential customers to find you.
  • Be active on your chosen platform - show customers you are engaged, so update your profile and check and respond to your messages regularly.
  • Measure your progress against objectives - many social media platforms have tools that will tell you how you are doing.

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