— October 17, 2018
Small business marketing can be tough, especially when your business is in a competitive industry. A highly-targeted, multichannel marketing campaign is one of the best ways drive conversions and grow quickly, but the cost grows quickly too. If you are just starting out or are still trying to get a steady customer base, the investment might not be worth the reward just yet. Luckily, there is more than one way get your company’s name in people’s minds. With hard work and creativity, there are endless ways to market your small business on the cheap. Here are ten ideas to help build your customer base, and get people excited about your small business:
Be sure to have your elevator pitch down and constantly find time to pitch your business. Talk to friends, neighbors, or strangers on the bus. The more people who know your name and your business, the more likely someone who needs your services will come to find you. A recent study by the Economist Intelligence Unit found that for 78% of startups, networking is vital for entrepreneurial success. Building connections with others in your community can lead to new customers, new best practices, and new business partnerships which leads to…
Find Strategic Partnerships
Connect with other companies that offer complementary services to grow both of your businesses. Either with flyers, coupons, or shout-outs in each other’s social media posts and emails, linking up with other small businesses can vastly expand the base that hears your message. With the right partnership, a little outreach and a little reciprocation can yield lasting results.
Get Public Speaking Gigs
There are myriad reasons to take to find local events that you can speak at. First, even if you aren’t paid you get massive legitimacy boost. Getting to speak as a professional in your field can establish you as a local expert and thought leader, and draw potential customers to your company. It also makes for a fantastic social media post. Second, you get to sell not only your company, but yourself. Putting a human face to a company name can make people more likely to remember it, and if you come off as charismatic and likable that will make people want to do business with you. Finally, speaking at gigs can net you great networking opportunities if you’re discovered by another SME owner who wants to start a partnership.
There’s really no marketing tool as powerful as social media. No matter what platform you go to, companies are finding ways to interact with and engage potential customers. A study by the Pew Research Center has shown a massive growth in social media use, and those number are only projected to rise. Taking advantage of this trend is necessary for growing businesses, and anyone interested in improving their small business marketing should add social media to their list of marketing tactics. Some great ways to engage potential customers are taking part in twitter chats, participating frequently in industry-specific Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups, and joining or even making a trendy hashtag on Instagram.
One of the best parts about being a small business is the ability to truly integrate with your community. Supporting local community causes like sponsoring a little league team or supporting a local library’s event is a powerful way to shape your image in people’s minds. Associating your company with generosity and care for the community will make your business attractive to potential customers, and is excellent marketing for any small business. While this is a slightly more capital-intensive venture, it makes a big statement about your values and can create loyal customers.
Foster Customer Loyalty
It’s far easier to keep longtime customers than it is to attract new ones. A study by The Nielsen Company found that 60% of consumers prefer by a new product from a known brand than try a new one. The important part is making sure they remember you when they need your service or product. A simple technique like targeted email marketing can be great for maintaining your existing base, and offering free coupons to longtime customers makes them feel valued by your company.
Ask for Referrals
Something people trust more than anything else is the word of a friend. If you want a quick and easy way to grow your business, ask your loyal customers to spread the word. You can also offer a reward in return for every referral. Different companies offer discounts, donations to charity, and even cold hard cash in exchange for referrals that result in a conversion. That said, a referral can be as simple as an email link a customer can send to a friend, or a post they can share on Facebook. Either way, referrals are powerful tools when you need to market on a budget.
Make Special Offers
It’s an old truism that you need to give little to get a little, and the saying is no different with small business marketing. Coupons and giveaways are great at encouraging potential customers to check you out with the enticing prospect of a free service or product. Even better, if they like you they might become a loyal returning customer. Although this may seem like a loss in the short term, the list of benefits is long and the returns can be very high. Especially coupled with social media, giveaways and coupons can be the kick your company needs to reach new levels of success.
Write a Press Release
While maintaining your own social media page is important, the number of people who see your small business is still limited by your follower count and the number of people who find you in web searches. However, there is a way to reach a far larger audience for free and that is the press release. Especially for local reporters, compelling stories can be hard to come by. If you are hosting an event, giving a talk, or starting a fun giveaway, sites like Help a Reporter Out can connect you with free publicity. Otherwise, you can just call your local paper and pitch your press release. Unlike taking out an ad, this is a free way to drive buzz for your business and get your name on people’s minds.
Know Your Market
Finally, when you are trying to start small business marking with a tiny budget, a computer is your best friend. Researching what your customers want only costs your time, and can inform you where to direct your marketing efforts. While buying data on certain subsets of customers is easier than ever, small business can take a more holistic approach. Looking at industry forums, searching in Yelp, and even trawling specific Reddit pages can give you a good idea of who your customer base is and what appeals to them. It might not be what you thought, so have an open mind before you start, and carefully sketch out the image of your typical customer. This process will ensure that anything else you do is pulling the right people towards your business, and you aren’t just barking up the wrong tree.
But even when you are trying to minimize expenses, if you don’t have the experience or background in marketing it may be best to hire an agency that specializes in small business marketing. A professional marketer will know the most effective tricks and techniques to work within your means, and they can help you stretch every dollar (or euro). A small business marketing agency will also have access to tools and services otherwise outside your means, making a small business marketer a highly attractive choice to grow your customer base and drive conversions.
This post first appeared on GW Digital Marketing’s blog here.