Marketing has always been important to any business, regardless of sector and size, but can also be one of the most challenging endeavors to undertake. As recently as a decade ago, a family business may have relied on legacy media like newspaper and radio ads to grow their brand. But marketing platforms have evolved immensely in the world we live in today, meaning family businesses will have to adapt in order to stay competitive and ensure their success.
Given how businesses across all sectors are developing new marketing strategies in response to COVID-19, there is perhaps no better time than now to give your family business a marketing makeover. Here we share several easy ways to immediately boost your visibility and capture a larger audience, which, ideally, in return will generate more revenue.
Marketing is used to reinforce your brand, capture an audience of loyal customers and create a following of people who support your business vision. But before you can begin marketing, your family business needs to make sure that your purpose, goals, and brand are clearly identified. To help jumpstart that process, we recommend you revisit this insightful article written by executive marketing and branding advisor Tricia Montgomery and DWT intellectual property attorney Matthew Moersfelder.
Family businesses have an advantage when marketing because have a story that is unique, built on trust and familial relationships, and oftentimes rich in history. In fact, research has shown that consumers connect strongly to “family-owned and operated” companies and your family's story will automatically set you apart from your competitors and provide ways to market that can well serve your family’s business.
While marketing your family business can sound intimidating, do not let that deter you. The following are a few easy, low-cost but high-reward, marketing strategies that any family business can implement today.
The first and easiest marketing platform to get up and running is social media, which includes options such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter. While the mid to older generations lean to Facebook, younger generations lean towards Instagram and Snapchat. Discuss with your family who your target customers are and which platforms may work best for your family business.
Many businesses choose to utilize all of these marketing platforms, and as you get yourself acquainted with each, you will realize that each platform can serve as a strength to your business’s marketing needs. For example, if your family owns a restaurant that specializes in Italian cuisine, you can post pictures of your Italian specials, provide your location and share the story of what inspired your family business on each of these social media platforms.
You can even share videos of cooking your specialty Italian dishes or with a short cooking lesson, or reach out via direct messaging to communicate with potential customers. If funding allows, your family business may choose to hire a social media manager who, as an expert in this marketing strategy, can likely provide more useful advice.
Create a Video
Another marketing strategy for your family business is to create and post video content. While this can be done on many social media platforms, YouTube leads the pack as the number two search engine in the world, estimated to generate billions of users in over 100 countries every day.
Bringing your family together and being innovative about the types of videos to create and post can, in and of itself, be a team-building event for your family business and offer an opportunity to reflect on your business goals. For example, videos may be about your products or services, may be educational in content in an area related to your family business, or about your family’s business philosophy, which may even include how your family business helps a specific community or conducts its philanthropy.
Start a Blog or Website
Another marketing platform which can be an effective way to spread the word about your family business is to start a blog or website. Often the two are used interchangeably because essentially a blog is a type of website. The difference is that blogs tend to be updated more frequently whereas a website is oftentimes more static.
If your family business already has a website, it may be time to consider updating it, and, among other updates, include a blog. Blogging can include all types of content: posting pictures, written pieces about your family business, links to purchase your products. A blog or website can include a “contact us,” “reservation,” “set up an appointment,” or “ask for a quote” page depending on what your business offers, allowing your clientele to reach you more directly.
If your family business does not already have a website, investing in one may make sense depending on your business goals and products and/or services. It doesn’t matter if your family business is small or large, a website and/or blog is a top marketing asset in the digital age. A quick internet search will go to show that consumers rely on websites to engage with businesses. Some reports have even shown that consumers will dismiss a business if that business doesn’t have a website, instead turning to one that does.
Gather and Share Testimonials
An added marketing technique that serves well on a blog or website, but that can be utilized on any marketing platform, is to include testimonials from your business’s current customers. A testimonial is simply a recommendation from someone who can affirm the performance, quality or value of your business’s products and/or services and/or its commitment to community it serves. You will want to consider how best to solicit such feedback – is it through allowing anyone to comment on your website or other platform or is it requesting customer or client feedback and the consent to use it on your platforms?
It is common nature to turn to reviews and recommendations when determining if one should purchase a product, check out a new restaurant, or commit to a new service provider. Consumers rely on other consumers to share their feedback. Simply having testimonials can earn the trust of your future customers. Testimonials can also create a more personal connection; they can show your family business cares what your customers think and that your customers appreciate and support your brand.
Many marketing strategies contain one or more of the above ideas. Your family business may wish to engage a marketing consultant or advisor to assist with the best plan for your business. And, there may be some legal issues you may wish to discuss with your company’s legal counsel, such as those relating to testimonials, intellectual property, product and/or service disclaimers, and the like.