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Marketing: Where to Get Started

If you’re new to social media, digital advertising or marketing in general, digging in on a project can be intimidating. You may find yourself asking, “Where do I start?”

To gather some ideas, Hardware Retailing spoke to Meag Shaffer, executive vice president of social media for social media firm Kel & Partners. Below are some of Shaffer’s pointers about who to turn to and how to get started, tailored specifically for retailers who are new to marketing.

Who can help?

Your Employees

“You might be surprised to know what your sales staff is interested in and has knowledge of that can help,” Shaffer says. “Talk to your employees and get a read of their skills.”

For example, Shaffer explains that a younger employee could be active on social media and may be interested in posting on behalf of the business. Perhaps someone on staff took a public relations course in college who may know the basics of media outreach. Or, maybe someone has a friend or relative who would be willing to do some graphic design work at a low cost. (It’s OK to negotiate on price, but be sure to respect professionals’ rates, and never ask someone to work for free unless they offer their services.)

Local Students

Most college students today are eager for real-world experience and are looking to do work related to their field of study to add actual, tangible experience to their resumes.

“Contact the communications department of your community college to see if there are any students who may be interested in doing marketing work for a small stipend,” Shaffer says.

A student marketing intern could spend time researching and putting together plans and initiatives that you don’t have time for.

Freelance Professionals

If you’re looking for a professional to come in temporarily or to help with marketing on a per-project basis, hiring a freelance professional is an option.

“There are a lot of freelance professionals out there,” Shaffer says. “You can list a job posting for a freelancer on websites like ZipRecruiter and you can hire someone to help you get your marketing initiatives off the ground.”

Laying a Foundation

Regardless of who will be working on marketing for your company, it’s crucial to establish core elements of your marketing campaign before getting started.

“Your first step is to establish the look, feel, messaging, visuals, logo and details, like your primary target audience,” Shaffer says. “Having a consistent look and feel builds a foundation for you to start trying new marketing tactics. Establishing those initial details allows everything else to branch out from there.”

Once you have a basic plan for your marketing efforts, you can gather the information you need and start testing different initiatives to see how your audience responds. Shaffer uses email marketing as an example.

“You can get an email list of your customers and send out a handful of emails with different visuals and messaging to see what type of response you get.”

Another great platform for experimentation is social media. You don’t need a professional photographer or videographer to capture moments in your store to post on social media. Give your go-to marketing person the reins and see how your customers respond online.

For more resources on marketing, check out the following resources.

6 Ways to Reach Customers Using Marketing

5 Ways to Test and Track Marketing Tactics

Website and Social Media, Crucial Tools for Business

About Hilary Welter

As marketing and research coordinator, it’s Hilary’s duty to keep retailers informed about NRHA products and services and to help coordinate industry research projects. Additionally, Hilary is the voice behind NRHA’s and Hardware Retailing’s social media accounts. She appreciates a good book, spicy food, well-made horror films, craft beer and exploring new places near and far.

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