Small businesses often face cuts to their marketing budgets when finances are tight. This can be counter-productive because obviously the solution to tight finances is more customers and more profit. However, there are cheap, modern ways for small businesses to market themselves with very little outlay.
Tip 1 – Social Media
These days, social media is a great tool for business success. In addition, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and other social media sites are free, a bonus for any marketer on a tight budget.
Use social media to get your message and brand across to your target audience. But don’t be too salesy. Treat social media as ‘social’ media. Use it to impart information to your target audience. Share interesting content and paint a picture of your brand as a friendly, helpful, engaging and trusted source of information. If you do that, readers will come back, interested by what you have to say.
Once you have established a list of followers and fans who are interested in your knowledge and expertise, you’ll be able to turn some of these followers into leads. You can do this by referring them to your website, sprinkling a few sales messages into your content, and entering dialogues with people as to how you can help them.
Look at social media as a much less formal, less forced and more social form of networking – without all the awkwardness of a face-to-face networking event.
Tip 2 – Referrals
If you have existing customers who are happy with your work, it’s worth asking them if they know of other businesses that might benefit from what you offer. You might consider creating some sort of incentive for your existing customers for recommending you and generating a lead. This will create new opportunities for profit and improve relations with your existing clients.
Tip 3 – Speaking at business events
If you do a little research, you’ll probably find that there are lots of local business events coming up for which fresh speakers are needed. Event organisers are often looking for new faces in the industry to speak, and some events will pay speakers for their time.
Doing a talk at such an event attracts attention for your business and positions your brand as a trusted source of information on the topic you are speaking about. You can sprinkle sales messages into your talks, network with the event delegates afterwards, and gather potential leads.
Make contact with event managers in your area and see if there any slots free for new speakers. Invariably there will be, and organisers will be keen to have you on board.
Tip 4 – Email marketing
If you develop and run an effective email marketing campaign, this can be a very productive and cheap means of maintaining and promoting brand awareness. But don’t just send random marketing emails without a strategy. This isn’t effective, and worse, you might end up annoying your target audience, which is the last thing you want to do. However, a long-term, properly structured campaign, with one email leading into the next, will attract and keep readers.
The key thing is to make the emails interesting. Don’t oversell. People don’t like being sold to. But if you create an engaging, interesting piece of content with a much more subtle sales message, your brand interest will steadily increase and sales and leads will soon roll in.
For example, an email about a new water cooler your company is selling will be much less effective than an email about the benefits of drinking cold water, making mention of your company’s new water cooler at the end.
Tip 5 – Drop in days on Saturdays
If you’ve just launched a new product or service, consider opening the office on a Saturday to do a half-day workshop and offer training to use the product or service. Drop in days are great ways of attracting new customers and building awareness of the benefits of your product, service or brand.