We’ve all seen new businesses do #dumbthings on the internet when it comes to marketing. Probably, as someone who once managed Spam Act investigations for the government, I’ve seen more than my fair share.
I’ve always understood that it isn’t easy for new businesses to work their way around their Spam Act obligations, but now as a small-business owner myself I feel I have a new-found understanding of just how hard it is. Here are a few tips from me, on how businesses can safely promote themselves.
Know your obligations
The Spam Act requires that any emails, instant messages or texts that you send promoting your business (or include links that promote your business) are sent with consent; information about who you are and how you can be contacted, and an unsubscribe facility.
Obtaining consent – and later being able to prove consent – can be tricky, so it is a good idea to have a strategy for collecting consent. For example, you might have a newsletter or a catalogue that people can opt to receive. Alternatively, if you are operating in a retail environment (online or bricks and mortar) you could ask customers at point of sale. BUT be wary of over incentivising as many people filter out promotional emails in their in-boxes these days and you may not be getting your value for money. In either case, you will need to make sure that you have records of consent.
If you do decide to buy a list to market to, be sure to ask your supplier about consent and ask them how they can prove that it exists. If you aren’t sure that everything is legit, then it is not worth risking your new enterprise’s rep.
Go old school
Since I started my business, I have found that people love a personal touch. Have regular coffee catch-ups with friends and colleagues. Tell them in-person about your business and leave them with more than one of your cards so they can pass it on to others. People are more than happy to help.
You might also consider writing a card or a letter to old friends and colleagues and including some business cards. Another approach is to meet new potential clients for coffee and to send them a thank you card afterwards thanking them for their time! Old school mail boxes are less crowded these days, so your personalised notes will certainly stand out in the crowd.
Use social media
Social media is a great way of promoting your new business, particularly if you use it strategically. Write some articles and promote them on Linked In or Twitter. Pass comment on matters that your business has an interest in and follow those who may be interested in your offerings. You might even find that they will follow you back.
You will need to be careful, however, of getting too personal or political on public social media platforms if you are using them to promote your business. You don’t want to lose business because people disagree with your views or take a dislike to your messages. I once complained to an airline about their lack of gluten free food through their Facebook page. Years later, this still comes up if you google my name. While my concerns were valid, I hardly want this to be my claim to fame and wish now that I had complained privately!
T One P Enterprises can provide advice on ensuring that you meet your Spam Act obligations. For more information, feel free to contact me directly.