Especially in its formative days, a small business needs to find low cost marketing ideas to keep its head above water. Yet should it scrimp on its marketing efforts, too? Successful entrepreneur and small business expert Susan Solovic, whose book made it on the New York Times bestseller list, says “no.” There’s a better way, she says in her October 2016 Constant Contact article. Here’s how to market a small business for less:
Don’t Overspend with Traditional Advertising
For a small business, traditional advertising doesn’t produce enough return on investment to justify the high expense. Instead, businesses can take advantage of online marketing. Email marketing, in which businesses can create lists of target customers, can produce a ROI of 38 to one. Not bad for what’s nearly free.
Email Marketing a Low-Cost Alternative
With email marketing, businesses can inform rather than hard-sell their potential customers. For example, if a business sells horse feed, it can send out emails to its list of horse owners about how to choose the proper nutritional balance of hay to grain in a horse’s feed. Educate rather than sell, and a business can create a grateful audience that will turn to them for help. For the price of a cheap email platform membership, a business can reach a wide number of interested people.
Grab Customers’ Attention with an Elevator Pitch
Because people’s attention spans are so short, a business owner should be able to describe what his or her business does for its customers in a short sentence: six to eight seconds at most. Don’t get cute or salesy. Brand the business with accurate, memorable language. Again, inform and educate.
Participate in the Community
How much would it cost a business to print a few stickers to give local students at a fundraiser for their school? How much would it cost that business to provide bottles of water at a charity athletic event?
The return on the investment of time—and little money—can pay off big time in good will.
Furthermore, when business owners become active in the community, they meet the movers and shakers in town. That kind of word-of-mouth advertising is as good as it gets. Networking can also lead to business partnerships and cross-promotions. Our horse feed dealer, for instance, could partner with Farmer Joe to sell his hay, while Farmer Joe spreads the word about the horse feed dealer at county fairs and racetracks in the area. It makes sense to promote a business in the community it serves.
Build a Referral Network
When a customer goes away happy, ask him or her to spread the word. Chances are, s/he will be glad to help out. After all, it puts that customer in the position of helping others find a great deal on a great product. That puts the customer in a more powerful social position as benefactor, and the business in a more powerful position to showcase its good work.
Press Releases, Public Speaking, and Social Media Can Become Promotional Gold Mines
Press releases cost nothing, yet can get the word out about a business quickly, especially when the business does something newsworthy. Keep the buzz going through social media. If a group asks a business owner to speak, by all means s/he should. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people while promoting the owner’s expertise in his or her field.
Coupons and Giveaways Build Good Will
Hardly anyone but snooty nouveaux riche folks will turn away a coupon or a freebie. If a customer tries a product because she or he had a coupon for it, the business can expand its base of customers. Not only with that person. Don’t forget, that person (especially if the business owner asks for a referral) will go out and spread the word.
Offer coupons or discounts to people who buy the company’s products. There’s a good chance that they will return to purchase more, particularly if they can save money by doing so. Offer coupons or giveaways to people who sign up to the business’s mailing list.
If the company’s product is new to the area, such as an ethnic food, offer samples so people can try it. Once they try it, they will come back for more if the quality is worth the trip. Quality products attract quality customers.
To discover more ways to promote your small business, head over to Nova Custom Printing’s blog, where you can find even more marketing tips that can help your business succeed without spending your life’s savings.