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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?

Getting the message across with text marketing

Text message marketing (or SMS marketing) has been around for more than 20 years. Yet many businesses still haven't grasped its potential

It's direct, personal and - properly targeted - can be a great way for small firms to communicate with customers. Here's how texting can help you spread the word about your products and services.

Text messages in your marketing strategy

Take a look at your marketing strategy. Does it contain all the elements you need to connect with your target market in the most cost- and time-effective way?

Consumers can be difficult to reach. Our lives are busy, so we don't always have time to sit and read articles, emails or newsletters on a company's offerings.

However, most of us have mobile phones. In fact, there are more mobile phones than people in the UK and we keep them with us day and night. SMS marketing, or text marketing, is a personal, direct and cost-effective way to reach your target market.

Opportunities to text your customers

Text message marketing can work for all kinds of businesses. For instance, restaurants are often quieter at the start of the week. One way to attract more business might be to contact customers, using details collected during previous bookings.

A simple text message - with a compelling offer - could be an excellent way to reach these people. For instance: "Buy one meal get one free at The Bull on Tuesday. Please call Helen on 01222 123456 to book."

Or take a plumber who wants to drum up trade before the winter rush. They could send a text message to customers offering 10% off if they have their boiler serviced before September. This attracts new customers and helps to spread work throughout the year.

SMS marketing best practice

It's easy to start building a database, as long as you're disciplined about asking customers for contact details. And, of course, it's vital to capture mobile phone numbers.

Ask for contact details on the telephone, in person and on your website. At the same time, get permission from customers to use their details for marketing purposes.

To avoid falling foul of the Data Protection Act, you must also give them a simple way to unsubscribe from marketing messages.

Once you've gathered customer details, there are some simple ways to ensure your SMS campaign is successful:

  • know who you are trying to reach;
  • think about what you want to tell them;
  • be clear what you want them to do and give them a call to action;
  • prepare the content of your text message carefully (and get someone to check it);
  • if you want them to contact you, tell them how (include your URL or telephone number);
  • if you want to give them an offer, explain it in the message.

You can also brand your SMS messages (so they come from your company name, not just your number) or include colour, images, video or sound in an MMS (multi-media message).

These techniques can make your messages stand out and boost conversion rates. But tread carefully; messages containing pictures and sounds may have a higher annoyance factor than simple text messages.

With research showing that 98% of text messages get read, it’s clear that text marketing offers real opportunities for small businesses.

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