If you’re thinking that your small business “can’t afford marketing”, you may actually be wrong.
Despite popular belief, marketing and business promotion doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it can actually work for you at no additional cost depending on the methods that you use.
A continuous marketing campaign can be beneficial to any business and a strategy can easily be put into place for exercising small budgets. But how can your company save on marketing and find the most valuable methods without exhausting efforts?
We share how a small/medium-sized business can promote themselves without splashing the cash and get the best return possible on a minimal investment:
1. Join in on social media
Did you know that in 2014, over 52% of online adults were found to use two or more social media accounts? Over two years have passed since then, and there’s guaranteed to be an increased amount of people actively using social media today.
Whatever industry your business operates in, there is bound to be potential customers looking for your services on social media. The best part? You can optimise it for free!
Begin by creating a business account on the most popular social media platforms, – you can interact with other businesses and customers in your niche. Facebook and Twitter are what we’d class as the “essentials”, with LinkedIn also being a great option if your business is trade-focused. Instagram/Pinterest is another option if your business offers visually appealing photography or graphics as part of their service.
Ensuring that your profile is correctly filled out with important information (such as your website, contact details and business name!) can help people to naturally find your account in social searches; increasing exposure for your brand.
Aside from a small investment in terms of the amount of time spent, marketing your business on social media is free and can bring your business huge return if done correctly.
2. Try your hand at email marketing
Email marketing is a traditional way to promote a business but is often considered as a costly service. However, there are a variety of online softwares that can take the hassle (and expensive nature) out of this form of digital marketing.
MailChimp is a popular choice for small business entrepreneurs looking to interact with and engage new customers through emails. They offer a range of low-cost ways to optimise your email marketing tactics, boost conversions and increase the amount of leads your business receives.
Offering exclusive discounts and chances to receive new items ahead of their launch are two of the most common email marketing tactics and can be done by a single entrepreneur successfully if timed correctly.
You can also opt for Gmail plugins that organise your inbox. This is a great, free alternative for business promotion and allows you to easily connect with thousands of people at the push of a button.
3. Create business cards and professional letterheads
Creating a memorable business card can not only be a great way of promoting your business, but also be an effective way of ensuring that your business and services are remembered.
There’s nothing more impressive to a prospective customer than professionalism. If you bump into someone, whether it be a potential customer in a business meeting or just a stranger in the street, handing them a professional business card is an excellent way to make the best possible first impression.
Instead of heading straight to an expensive stationery store, you can source your own business printers with cheap running costs and find high quality paper that gives a professional finish. This allows you to cut the cost of otherwise extortionate printing prices for creating business cards and handouts.
4. Run a competition for future customers
‘FREE’ sells – there’s no doubting that. How many times have you taken advantage of a free offer, even when it was for something you weren’t looking for? The chances are, you’re no stranger to entering online competitions; and neither are your potential customers.
Running a free competition from your e-commerce website or social media profile can help to increase the awareness around your brand. An entry for the contest could be encouraging social sharing, your brand could be seen by thousands of people, just for simply giving away a free product or service.
Online survey conductor Rafflecopter provide a simple way to manage entries and choose an un-biased winner. This can add to your business’ credibility and increase the trust customers have in your business.
5. Don’t forget about marketing yourself!
If you’re running a small business, it’s likely that you’re the founder, director and CEO all rolled into one. With such great power over your daily operations, try to market yourself into becoming an inspirational person and a respective part of your community.
When we say that marketing yourself is important, we don’t mean that you’re expected to spend your life completing record-breaking challenges in order to win over thousands of fans. Simply rewarding your customers with excellent service and making them feel recognised is enough.
Take steps to become a business owner that aspiring entrepreneurs aspire to be like; offering advice and valuable information for those that need it. Don’t forget that 74% of marketers recognised personalisation as a way to increase customer engagement – take advantage of it!
6. Create content in the form of eBooks and blogs
Working in your industry, you’re expected to be an expert on whatever topic your products and services relate to. This means that you are likely to have a wealth of knowledge that expands above and beyond that of your customers.
Creating an eBook is an ideal way to create content that encourages social sharing; increasing the exposure your brand receives on social media. You can also create a company blog that offers advice. This can help with your search rankings and increase the value of your business’ website.
Pack your content full with your expertise and write in a way that your customers understand. Share relevant copy and prospective customers can look to you as a valuable source; reinforcing trust and increasing your chances of receiving an order over a competitor in your niche.
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7. Offer discount cards for new and existing customers
For years, discount and rewards cards have been offered to customers as a way to increase their loyalty to their brand. Fast forward many years after their introduction and they’re still as popular as ever, with every brand offering their own card for rewarding repeat customers.
Recommendations and word-of-mouth promotion comes naturally with offering these kinds of rewards. Setting your business apart from competitors, offering customers exclusive deals and discounts can impress customers and encourage them to recommend to a friend if they are also in need of the service you have provided.
Rewarding loyal customers is important. It shows customers that they’re valued and you’re willing to compromise on prices to keep them happy.
8. Be a charitable and respectable figure
A great way to boost your stance in your industry is to position yourself as a respectable organisation. Did you know that 39% of adults in the UK have recently made a buying decision that was influenced by the ethics of the retailer?
Donating your products to charity or holding an event to raise awareness for someone in need can help both your new (and existing!) customers to have faith in your ethics. It can help strengthen the belief in your brand and encourage customers that you’re worth investing in.
9. Lend your knowledge with public speaking
Public speaking is another form of event marketing but has many other benefits that the traditional method struggles to achieve. Along with bringing you face to face with other likeminded individuals and giving you the chance to network, public speaking can help with your strategy to convince.
Industry conferences and local business groups are always looking for speakers to help out at their event. Along with the name recognition that comes with doing such, you have the chance to create contacts and meaningful relationships that can help you out if you need in future.
10. Dispense your promotional material in a variety of environments
Your product catalogues and company magazines don’t have to be saved solely for the purpose of sending to employees and possible leads – they can be strategically placed everywhere.
Let’s think of common places where people go and need to wait for something. The doctors, dentists and transport hubs are areas where people tend to get bored, so providing them with promotional material can help to exploit their boredom and make them aware of your brand.
Your business’ name, products, contact information and website address should be included on such materials. This can help generate a person into a lead if they are interested in your offerings.
As you can see, marketing and promoting your business doesn’t have to be a complicated and long-winded strategy. Our simple tips are bound to have a positive impact on your business as a whole, and an increase in sales should come as a result on your investment of time.