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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 consumers - checklist

If you use social networking to talk to customers, it helps to have a social media strategy to make sure you're not wasting effort. This checklist covers the main areas to consider.

  • Identify which social media platforms your target customers are using and make sure you have a presence there too.
  • Check how your competitors use the various platforms? Make a note of what works and what doesn't.
  • Devise a strategy for using social media in your business. Set measurable and realistic objectives and goals for your marketing, and look for ways to blend your social media marketing with other offline marketing methods.
  • Create a profile on your chosen platform/s, including essential details about who you are and what you do, and a link to your website.
  • Engage potential customers by stressing what you can do for them.
  • Apply your branding guidelines to your profiles to maintain consistency and establish your visual identity quickly.
  • Use a tone that is appropriate to the platform. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are generally friendly and informal.
  • Listen and respond to feedback, and offer help and advice - don't simply broadcast sales messages; have conversations with your customers.
  • Inform your audience about your sector and link to other sources of information, such as news stories, videos and podcasts. Share your knowledge.
  • Use relevant keywords about your sector, product or service frequently in your social media marketing. These will be picked up by search engines and make it easier for potential customers to discover you.
  • Run competitions and polls via social media and offer exclusive online deals to your fans and followers. These will help to generate word-of-mouth advertising - the most powerful form of social media currency.
  • Be active on your chosen platform/s. Update your profile and check your messages regularly. Show your audience that you are engaged. You can also advertise. Facebook ads allow you to segment your advertising into the key demographics of ASL (age, sex, location).
  • Measure your progress against your objectives. Most social media sites have tools that will tell you how you are doing. If you are not meeting your objectives, find out how you can change your approach.

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