If you are a small business owner, the success of your business depends on your ability to pitch your products and/or services to customers who already have several other alternatives. You need to position your business in front of prospective customers, and present them with something that not only solves their problem, but also one that they can’t refuse. This is what marketing is all about.
For a startup, marketing can be a costly endeavor. Nevertheless, there are some strategies that when enforced can help you circumvent this huge expense. The following are some tested and proven strategies that you can use to market your small business without necessarily spending more than you have to:
Prospective customers always want to know what they are paying for before putting in their hard-earned money. Write descriptions about your product(s) or service(s) and publish them on your website so that buyers can know what they are buying. Be sure to highlight unique features and what they should expect from what you’re offering. While at it, create a unique value preposition that briefly outlines how your business, service or product is different from that of your competition and explain why prospective customers should do business with you.
Perhaps you own a cookery business that makes mouth-watering meals, or you operate a technology repair shop that fixes anything from smartphones to laptops. Create blog posts that are relevant to your industry. Be sure to cover hot news and trending topics related to your industry. This will prove that you are conversant with the current trends in the industry. Also consider guest posting and focus more on the value of presenting your brand to a new audience, rather than the links. The more content you put out there, the better. It’s of essence that you also allow guest posts on your blog site.
Press releases can be a powerful tool to market your small business as they increase real-time communication between a business and its target audience. You should create press releases to announce your new product launches, new acquisitions, and other milestones you’ve achieved. Be sure to send press releases to several distribution channels. If done right, press releases can help bring in additional business, create goodwill in the local marketplace, and build an influential business brand.
If a customer is happy with your product or service so much so that he has tweeted about it, it would be wise if you let as many people see it. You can opt to link to that tweet, re-tweet it, or screenshot the tweet and post it on your website. You should also encourage your customers to leave their reviews on your website. Publishing customer reviews and video testimonials on your website will go a long way in boosting your credibility.
Write a comprehensive eBook about your business, product(s) or service(s). Try to recycle or re-purpose past articles and blog posts into a mega eBook collection, instead of writing an eBook from scratch. You can also write a product comparison guide that helps prospective customers to make informed decisions when choosing products. Compile detailed beginner’s guides that will guide consumers on how to use your products effectively. This will show your audience that you just don’t care about sales, but that you also care about the usefulness of your products and the value they add to users.
Besides being visual eye candy, infographics are a powerful marketing tool that can help even small businesses on a shoestring budget to win their audience’s undivided attention. Be sure to create content-rich but easy-to-digest infographics and share them on your social networking platforms. If you manage to hit the right notes with your infographics, then the chances of your content being shared by thousands of people will be increased, thus boost your brand’s visibility.
From affiliate marketing to product endorsements, online magazine blog sites open up a whole world of opportunities for small business owners to increase their revenue. Start by researching what kind of content your users are most interested in, what kind of content they share the most, and which social networking platforms they are most active on. Build on this knowledge to create your own virtual magazine that you can use to engage with your target audience. Choose stylish built-in templates that will enable you to build an impressive online magazine for your audience.
Memes are quite popular these days, and what better way to capture your audience’s attention than with cheeky and hilarious ones. It is super easy to make your own memes with a site such as Meme Generator. Just like memes, internet comics are also becoming quite popular with internet goers. Try making comics that relate to the surreal and absurd aspects of your industry. You can make use of tools such as Strip Generator and Pixton to make your own comics.
You can also market your services or communicate your brand’s core message through creating a series of instructional videos. A great instruction video doesn’t necessarily have to be a James Cameron kind of production for it to be effective. Even with limited resources and zero video editing skills, you can make a great video that can boost brand awareness. Just focus on creating an informative and a little entertaining clip, and keep it short and clean. Keep your video no more than 2-3 minutes long and use title cards to work your brand into the presentation. You can upload videos on your website, share them on social media networks, or on YouTube.
Podcasts are another marketing tool that can help you connect with people who are interested in knowing more about your business, getting helpful advice, or catching up on industry news. Good thing is that you don’t need a fortune to create podcasts. All you need is a few basic things, including a laptop/PC, microphone, audio editing software, mp3 encoding software, a hosting service to broadcast, and a web publishing service. You can post your podcasts on your blog account. You can also share them on social media sites and upload them on iTunes and other podcast sites to maximize your coverage.
Webinars are a very powerful marketing tool that can help you draw in new customers and keep in touch with prospects. They give brands a human voice when showcasing their expertise in their specific industry. Be sure to pick a content theme that’s valuable and exciting, not technical or dry. You should then choose a hosting platform that not only works, but also supports a wide variety of accessibility options. The next step is to promote your free virtual event to ensure that your target audience will hear about it well in advance. You can either host your free webinar, or you can partner or co-present with another brand that complements yours or who caters to a similar audience.
Referral programs are a great source of new business, thus should be made an integral part of any small business’ marketing strategy. You can offer a free product, service or any other reward to existing customers for referring new customers. With a formalized customer referral program, your business will manage to close higher-value customers more quickly.
Question and answer forums are not only highly regarded by search engines, but they are also one of the great ways of establishing credibility. You should search for industry forums where prospects hang out, and participate in them. The more people learn from you, the more they will trust you and take interest in your business. Once they see the value you offer, the more they will appreciate what you are offering and the more likely they will recommend you to others.
At times, all you need is a good contest idea to promote your small business. You need to come up with an exciting idea that will make your target audience motivated to participate. You can try something like a “selfie-at-the-store” contest and enter the photos in a draw to win prizes, discounts, or free products. The good thing about contests is that you don’t necessarily need an expensive price to award participants. Sacrificing a few products to winners will be worth it in the end.
Another important lesson that you need to learn as a small business owner is how to leverage industry awards in your marketing strategy. Applying for such awards enables you to showcase your brand and boost awareness. Check for industry awards that you have potential of winning. If you are lucky, you may win a prestigious award that will boost your credibility, get funding, or help you go through an IPO. In other words, winning an industry award could mean big business for you.
Your business card is undoubtedly one of the most powerful marketing tools for your small business. If you are yet to put too much thought into your business card, you could be missing out on a great marketing opportunity. Update your business card to make it stand out from the rest. Keep in mind that business card marketing isn’t just about merely giving your cards to anyone. It calls for ingenious thinking to get a much bigger return on your investment. For instance; you can slide a card in magazines and books related to your industry, leave cards on community boards across town, or include a card or two in everything you mail out. Besides business cards, brochures too can be excellent marketing tools to advertise your business.
Guerrilla marketing is a phrase that is used to describe unconventional, low-cost marketing strategies that startups and small businesses use to boost visibility. If you are facing budgeting setbacks, there are several guerrilla marketing tactics that you can apply to popularize your brand. Writing on the sidewalks with chalk or spraying the walls with branded messages is one of the most common examples of guerrilla marketing. Sandwich boards are also an easy, cheap and fun way of advertising a business in the neighborhood. You can also distribute branded coasters in restaurants and bars and hang crazy window displays. You can go a step further and organize a surprise flash mob and incorporate your brand into it through face paint, signs and t-shirts.
Event marketing basically involves creating a themed presentation, display or exhibit to promote a business, product or service. You can host promotional events and seminars either online or offline, and they can be participated in, sponsored, or hosted. You can also participate in local events and take the opportunity to distribute branded bottled water, caps, t-shirts, etc. Hosting your own promotional event or participating in local events is a smart marketing strategy that is bound to generate new business opportunities. Your brand will not only get exposure, but you will also be able to interact with potential customers on a one-on-one basis and ultimately make valuable connections.
The power of social media marketing cannot be overstated. Social networking sites like Facebook, LinkdIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc are excellent outlets to share your brand-related content. Try to be an active participant in the social media community like joining trending hashtag themes and participating in viral threads, forums and discussions. Another smart tactic is to post an interesting, quote or photo and ask your followers to tag people who would love your post or can relate to the message in it. Posting coupons on Facebook is also a great strategy. Don’t forget to respond to questions and concerns from followers.
Majority of customers use mobile devices to send, receive and access information. Short Message Service (SMS) marketing is an inexpensive, high-return marketing strategy that involves text messaging to relay brand-related content to customers. When properly executed, this strategy creates an effective communication platform between a business and its mobile customers. The secret is to keep the messages short and sweet. You should also integrate multimedia messaging and use your texts as hooks to your social media. Be sure to keep your texts interactive and remember to include a clear call to action.
If your small business has a physical location, it’s highly important that you consider local search. There are various ways in which you can boost your position in local online searches so you’re found easily by customers who’re looking for the products and services you offer. First thing is to claim your “Google My Business” listing. You should then add your phone number, physical address, email address, and website and ensure that your listings are consistent across the web. Be sure to add relevant photos, respond to reviews, and remember to share what’s best about your brand. You should also create individual landing pages on your site for your top product categories.
If you do not fear being accused of being a copycat, you should consider borrowing a leaf from top brands and competitors. Try to find out what makes them tick, and try to implement the marketing strategies that seem to be working for them. It’s important to note that what works for another business may not necessarily work for yours. The secret would be not to do what your competitors are doing, but doing it even better.
After all is said and done, how will you know if your marketing efforts are effective? This brings about the importance of tracking and measuring your marketing efforts. Every marketing strategy you implement should be well calculated. Every decision made should be informed by data and the results of each action taken should be bookmarked for future reference. The most crucial metric to track when evaluating the effectiveness of a marketing strategy is the cost to obtain a single new customer. The rule of thumb is – if a strategy costs more than it returns, then it is not a good long-term marketing strategy.
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