The importance of a good marketing strategy is something all small business owners should be fully aware of. It’s a given that unless your potential customers are made aware of your existence and what you have to offer, you aren’t going to make any sales. There are numerous ways to make your marketing work for you, and the trick is to find the most cost-effective methods for your particular business. Marketing is a tricky balance between investing sufficiently to reach a wide enough audience and spending too much that you can’t recover the costs. If you’ve got your website, social media and ad campaigns in place and you’re looking for additional ways of getting your name out there, try some of these alternative ideas.
Become active in your local community
Making your presence felt in your local area will raise your profile and help build a good reputation for your business. Get involved in community events by becoming a sponsor, which is usually good value for money at this level. You could support your local sports team, get involved in local charitable causes, raise money for your charities with donations for raffles and prizes, or even run a marathon for your local good cause. If you have something people would be interested in learning or hearing about, set up a talk or an event like a barbeque that local people can attend free of charge. Give them a good night out or make them feel they’ve learned something, and they are far more likely to think of you and recommend you to their friends.
You can use the same principle to contribute articles to local publications and websites, so come up with a good pitch and get in touch with the editor and you could see your business being promoted for free on a regular basis. Offer prizes for community contests, and if there aren’t any, set up one of your own. If you have premises that could be hired out, offer them for local events and meetings. If you can provide some refreshments, even better! Simply give everyone a flyer with your business offer and a discount voucher attached. Just as people love a money-off coupon, so they love a freebie. One simple method is to offer coffee and biscuits to visitors, who will appreciate the thought and be more likely to want to come again. Make sure the drinks are good quality though – cheap coffee won’t impress anyone! Any kind of free trial or a demonstration will add value to your offer and get the grapevine humming about the service you offer.
Using the power of recommendation
This tactic is becoming more recognized but is still one you can exploit in many different ways. When someone buys from you, send them a voucher for a discount off their next purchase or money off their next purchase if they refer a new customer. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount. People love to be offered discounts, and the amount is less important than the gesture, but this will definitely encourage them to spread the word about you. Get yourself on independent review websites too, for example, if you sell air conditioning units you would benefit from being featured on a site like Trust Dale HVAC Reviews. Use any good reviews you receive on your marketing materials, in your ads, and on your website. Hearing what other genuine customers have to say about you will have a big influence on new customers who are looking for the same kind of service. You could produce a factsheet or eBook that you give away for free. Use this as an incentive for people to visit your store or your website, and encourage people to share the link or take copies of the factsheet for their friends. Get in touch with websites and blogs that cover your subject area and ask if they will review your product or service. You will need to give them something for free, and you will be at the mercy of them publishing their genuine opinion of what you are selling, but if you have a good product that you have confidence in this shouldn’t be an issue for you.
You can also reach out to potential customers who could be influencers for you. For example, look on Twitter for anyone who regularly posts tweets in your niche, and get in touch with them offering a free sample or discount if they post a tweet for you. Choose those with the highest number of followers for maximum exposure. Some of the major influencers will expect to be paid, and in some cases, this can be quite considerable sums, so consider what would be a reasonable budget and look for some up-and-coming influencers who aren’t charging the big bucks yet. Reviews and recommendations go both ways, so make a practice of writing positive reviews for businesses you have used and places you’ve visited, and in many cases, they will be more inclined to do likewise. You will also increase your web presence and make your name easier to find. You can also register with online forums where people submit questions and ask for help with their problems. You can offer assistance in your area of expertise, but don’t turn it into an ad or a sales pitch. Just offer impartial advice and say who you are. You could also write for other websites and blogs in your subject area. Find some likely sites and see what their submission guidelines are. Building up a reputation for being an expert in your field will pay dividends in the long run, building your industry authority as well as getting your name featured even more online.
There are all sorts of clever ways you can increase your company’s presence and authority, both online and on the street. Taking advantage of these opportunities to promote yourself may involve a little effort (and in some cases a lot!), but they can be well worth doing, so select the methods that suit you best and put them to work.