5 Inexpensive Small Business Marketing Options
Small business owners frequently ask for my advice about inexpensive ways to market their companies. There are certainly many ways to increase your visibility, successfully and for little investment. It is important to weigh the time resources that seemingly inexpensive marketing campaigns may require. For small business owners, time resources are just as costly as capital.
- One of the least costly and most effective ways to increase your visibility and reputation is word of mouth marketing. Ask your loyal customers for referrals (developing a referral program also helps). Ask them to write reviews on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Yelp, and Google. Ask them to recommend you to others. Customers who have had positive experiences working with your company easily become your brand ambassadors. All you have to do is ASK.
- Another strategy that may take more time but ultimately results in a great return is positioning yourself as an expert, resource or thought leader in your industry. There are many ways to do this, but the most common is through content marketing strategies. Blogs and vlogs take some time to prepare, but they create recurring value. Posted on your website and cross-posted/ shared on other sites drives traffic, organically, to your website. Strong content becomes a public resource and reinforces your expert position. Storytelling develops relatability and, inevitably, a more personal connection with your company brand. And public speaking engagements reinforce your stature as a subject matter expert. Both paid and non-paid speaking opportunities can be exceptionally fruitful, as long as you prepare your content well and make sure to tailor it to your audience.
- I’ve written about the next low-cost option before, so visit here to read more about it. But don’t forget that cause marketing can be perceived by your customers as a real differentiator. Cause marketing is a coordination of efforts within a for-profit company, whether in fundraising or simply donating resources, to provide assistance to a non-profit organization. Increasingly, consumers are supporting socially conscious businesses making cause marketing another route to grow business.
- This is a big one: Engage in social media (but don’t commit to too many sites). In today’s day of easily accessible, quick, simple to digest information consumption, if you aren’t part of the dialogue, you are missing out on significant business. Not only does it allow YOU to keep your finger on the pulse of your industry (competitors, complimentary companies, etc.) but it also allows you read the pulse of your customers (key interests, trends, etc.) In addition, and just as important, it allows your customers to stay connected to your brand which is so important for mitigating customer service problems, sharing positive feedback and keeping you relevant. The one requirement here is that you only commit to identifying two or three social media platforms. Identify which platforms your target market use and engage with those. Spreading yourself thin across multiple platforms means that you will, inevitably, not be able to engage in a timely manner- which is really the point of social media. Remember what social media is about- real-time, easily accessible and quick information consumption and sharing (DIALOGUE).
- Email marketing is an easy way to stay front of mind with your customers and nurture potential customers- especially if you have a product or service that doesn’t lend itself to frequent recurrences or impulse buying. Newsletters are a great way to share the content you have developed for speaking engagements, blogs or articles. Blasts and promotions entice with a clear call to action for your subscribers. Email specific contests encourage your subscribers to stay engaged with your brand and create community (and brand advocates). Free email marketing services offer easy analytics for your to check your campaign success. Try multiple content styles and see which work best for you!
While inexpensive, these marketing options may require time resources that small business owners cannot afford to give. Knowing when to ask for help, when to outsource and when to take it on themselves is something I frequently weigh with my clients. For help creating a strategy for your business growth using these and other approaches, contact Joe Maddalone – Power Strategies.