For many small business owners marketing their product or service does not come naturally. They move from one tactic to another with no real marketing strategies or without ever having a clear idea whether these efforts are going to result in an increase of sales.
The Internet is an impressive tool that allows small businesses some of the same marketing strategies as their larger competitors. However, it can still cost a lot of money to market online, and if you aren’t careful the costs can blow your total budget.
We are here to provide you with six inexpensive (and sometimes free) small business marketing strategies that can help you more clearly define your goals and in turn, achieve them.
Pamper your existing customer
It is five times more expensive to make a sale to a new customer as it is to an existing one, so be sure to never neglect the people who already know and trust you. Take your best customers out to dinner or for a game of golf, and don’t be afraid to ask them about how they think you can improve overall business. You would be surprised by the insight they may have in regards to your marketing strategies.
You can also personally write thank you cards to some of your top customers. Tell them they are part of a new loyalty program, offer exclusive offers only to them, or even invite them to preview your newest service or product. A little goes a long way when it comes to making customers feel special.
Commit to the beast that is online marketing
As we said before, the Internet can provide your company with an inexpensive virtual storefront. Use it to build relationships with prospecting customers by offering the highest quality content you possibly can on your site and other digital platforms.
Extend your reach significantly by using social media, and instead of focusing a little attention on a wide variety of platforms, hone in on a couple and make what you do with them matter. Take the time to train yourself, or a designated employee, on the capabilities of the different platforms. These are cheap tools that allow for significant engagement with customers, and can even provide you with useful data about if/how your marketing strategies are working.
Work in some public relations
A media story is much more valuable than an advertisement because of the credibility it provides your business. However, attracting the attention of a journalist is hard, especially in the day and age of civic journalism. Help them by letting them know about an innovative product or service, an unusual customer contact or business gamble that paid off. It is important to keep at it – building relationships with your local media will pay off in the long run.
Turn your employees into brand ambassadors
Your employees are members of the community with all sorts of contacts that can help you. Equip those who work for you with the insight they need to speak positively and confidently about your business and its services, no matter the social situation they are in. Assuming each of your employees has a different network of friends, extended family etc., host a fun event at your business. You may find you are able to generate some new word-of-mouth business, meet a potential partner, or better yet, meet a new customer. At the very least your team will come back to work feeling energized and appreciated.
Create and post customer case studies on your website
A super inexpensive tactic is to create case studies on your website based on your happy, successful clients and then posting them for the general public to read online. While conducting a short post-project interview with the customer, fill out a predetermined template which you can then post directly on your website. It works for a business of any size, and if you’re lucky enough to have an employee with writing abilities, it will cost you nothing.
The case studies do not have to be extensive or overly long, just be sure they contain useful and relevant information. Explain the customer’s particular problem and how your service or product solved the problem. Include a satisfaction quote from the client to add extra personalization.
Share information across the web
Hands down the most inexpensive way to promote your business is to share what you love, what you do and how do it. Completed a new exciting project? Write about it on your blog, post about it on Twitter and Facebook. Take an awesome photo? Instagram it. Stumble upon an article that you think your clients would love? Curate it to your feeds for them to read. Discover a new industry trend that could work for your clients? Write about it and share it.
It’s so important to be in continuous contact with your audience. Information sharing is a great way to do this because it makes way for learning opportunities, for both parties.