Marketing can be a challenge for small businesses without the resources for large scale direct cmarketing or advertising campaigns. However, there are plenty of ways a small business owner can promote their business without breaking the bank, Here are a few tips...
1) Start a blog
A blog is a great way to communicate directly with people and is free to set up on sites such as Wordpress or Blogger. A blog can make a company seem open, friendly and helpful. You can share your expert knowledge with potential customers which will help generate followers and enquiries. Simple to set up and maintain, blogs require very little technical knowledge and are great for website SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
2) Join Twitter
It only takes a few minutes to set up a Twitter account. Complete your profile and start joining discussions and promoting your twitter account to build up a network of followers interested in you, your products and your services.
3) List your business on Google Local
Encourage your customers to leave reviews on your page, it will help improve your ranking, as well as getting positive experiences with your company out there in the marketplace. Recommendations are the best way of increasing business
4) Get your business listed on directories
List your company details on appropriate directories such as Yell
5) Create an email database and start sending monthly newsletters
Companies such as Vertical Response or Mailchimp make it easy to create a database list and allow you to easily design a professional newsletter template. Include news about your company, special offers and promotions and industry news.
6) Start networking
Find out where your local free networking events are and start attending! People like to do business people they know. Networking can lead to a lot of new business and referrals, as well as making sure you're on the inside track of any important developments within your area.
7) Get involved on internet forums
Choose forums specifically to do with your industry. Post regularly with helpful advice and get involved in discussions. Include your website in your forum signature to help generate traffic for your website. Remember you’re representing your company here – remain polite, helpful and professional and all times.
8) Be creative with your marketing literature
The world is over-communicated and everyone is constantly bombarded with advertising messages. Be different and you will stand out and be memorable.
9) Create a loyalty scheme
Reward loyal customers with discounts. It will keep them coming back and will help generate referrals. Don't just expect people to come back to you, there are hundreds of competing companies trying to win over your existing customers - don't let them!
10) Create an email signature
Don't just put your name at the bottom of emails. People are naturally curious. Include your web link and twitter link and they will click them. Also include your company name, telephone number and email address.
11) Run a joint promotion
If you own a hair salon, why not run a joint promotion with a fashion store? Both businesses are based around image and looking and feeling good. Get the salon to give clients cards or leaflets promoting the fashion store and vice versa. Build connections with businesses that complement yours.
12) Improve customer service
Customer service is a form of advertising. You're advertising that you care, and that gets noticed.
13) Find out when local advertising magazines go to print
Many advertising magazines will have spare advertising space before they go to print. They would rather generate revenue from that space than fill it with an article or leave it blank. Make them an offer for the spare space, you can often get greatly reduced advertising rates.
14) Offer added value
Getting your foot in the door with new customers is half the battle. Make them an offer they can't refuse. Added extras will generate good will, get them ‘hooked’ on your product or service and is memorable.
15) Make your business cards stand out
Get your cards professionally designed, and make sure they look fantastic. Add spot UV varnish, coloured foils, print them on cotton, use a funky shape... be creative! Get them out and about - give them to everyone.
16) Use your vehicle
Vehicle graphics are seen by thousands and thousands of people a day. Turn your vehicle in to a mobile billboard - especially if you are on the road a lot! Vinyls can be added to your vehicle fairly cheaply, or if your budget allows, a full or partial vehicle wrap will really get you noticed!
17) Ask your customers to recommend you
Online or in person, a good recommendation is worth its weight in gold. People are looking for businesses they can trust and assurances about the quality of your work. Most happy customers will be pleased to give a recommendation, so don’t be shy!
18) Run a competition with a prize
Promote your competition and collect email addresses and customer details to send out future promotions. The competition will also create awareness of your company.
19) Use testimonials
Whatever your business is, make sure you ask for testimonials and use them! Make sure the testimonials are genuine and go in to a little detail.
20) Create a relevant promotional gift
People love free stuff. Why not send a small promotional gift out with quotes and invoices? Think about how you can get the gift to work for you…a fridge magnet with your contact details can work wonders for getting more business.
21) Attend exhibitions and trade shows
It may cost a little bit for a stand but trade shows and exhibitions can be very effective in generating new customers and interest in your company, as well as being an excellent networking opportunity.