You might have the best product or service in the world, but unless people learn about it, your small business is not going to get very far. Marketing is essential for every business, but it doesn’t have to be too expensive. Here are some tips for getting your message out while keeping your cash at home:
- Do Your Own Market Research
Make a list of what your customers want, the questions they ask, the problems they want solved, their gender and age, etc. This will help you target your marketing efforts by addressing their concerns directly.
- Clarify Your Message
Don’t spend a lot on fancy brochures without first ensuring that your message is clear and concise. If a young person can’t understand your message, then it might need simplification. Clarity above all else!
- Public Relations on the Cheap
Do things to get your business’ name out there, like volunteering your offerings at charity events, running a blog and inviting guest bloggers, commenting in other persons’ blogs, and attending networking or civic events.
- Hire a Small Marketing Agency
Identify a promising small marketing agency and, at least at the beginning, follow their advice. They will understand you are on a tight budget — they probably are too — but nonetheless will have innovative ideas for you. If they don’t, try another one, but give the first one a little time to prove itself.
- Look for Free Marketing Advice
Articles such as this one provide useful information for free. The library is another great resource, and many marketing agencies are willing to perform a free initial consultation.
- Promote Word-of-Mouth Advertising
Nothing is more effective than WoM. Excite your customers by offering loyalty programs, contests and raffles, excellent service and solutions that work. Don’t be shy — ask your satisfied customers to help get the word out. Many people just want to be asked.
- Create Your Own Marketing Materials
Desktop programs are so powerful today — all you need is a little time and practice to harness that power to produce your own collateral material. Brochures, flyers, logos, company designs, websites and business cards are all fairly easy to produce. Take your own photos and incorporate them into your materials. Later on, when business is booming, you can hire professional photographers and designers for a more polished look.
- Treat Your Vendors Well
A happy vendor can help your business, but a disgruntled one can be poison. Make sure you pay your vendors on time! Even better, pay them in full in advance. Make them your friends, then ask them to endorse you and offer to reciprocate.
- Create Joint Marketing Efforts
Suppose you own a bakery next door to an independent coffee shop, to which you supply yummy goodies. In turn, you steer your customers next door for a nice hot cup of Joe. Go a step further and take out joint ads that tout both of your places. It’s synergistic and will save you money. Adapt this example to your own circumstances.
- Exploit Your Website
You can use various tools, often at no charge, to tell you how well your website is working. How many visitors do you get, and how many of them become customers? Attract new traffic by publishing useful, authoritative articles that will help rank your site high in search engine results. Use search engine optimization techniques throughout your website — you can read up on these or hire a person to help. Don’t forget to use all the social media tools, including Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In, to broaden your marketing efforts.
As you can see, there are plenty of low-cost ways to market your business. You may not see results right away, but persevere and you’ll probably be delighted with the ultimate outcome.