When budgets are tight, marketing might be the first expense you look to cut. Let me stop you right there. While traditional advertising methods are costly and hard to measure, small businesses have never had greater access to cost-effective, trackable marketing tools. But with so many digital tools available, how do you know where to start?Email marketing is the tried and true digital marketing channel with an average return of $38 for every $1 spent. Email and social media marketing are just the start. Here are ten marketing strategies that can help you market your small business on a shoestring budget.
1. Craft an elevator pitch
You should be marketing all the time — wherever you are. Therefore, you need a compelling elevator pitch. Research shows the average attention span of an adult is about six to eight seconds. That’s all the time you have to grab someone’s attention. If you successfully engage them, then you only have a little over a minute to really sell them on your product or service. Invest the time to craft a killer elevator pitch. The return on your investment will pay huge dividends in terms of creating business opportunities.
2. Leverage your community
You don’t have to think big when it comes to your marketing efforts. Think locally. What’s going on in your community? Sponsor a Little League team or a 5k charity walk/run. Print bookmarks and leave them at the local library. Get to know your ideal customer and think about how and where they spend their time. Then search for opportunities to get in front of your customer with your marketing message.
Put together a group of synergistic, non-competitive businesses in your area and agree to cross-promote. You can use coupons, fliers, reciprocal website links, bundled promotions or social media platforms. By collaborating with each other, you can expand your customer base because you’ll be reaching new people.
I’m a huge fan of networking. I don’t think there is any better way to build a business than to get out there, shake some hands, and get to know people. Networking requires a time commitment and it doesn’t provide instant gratification, but a strong network is one of the greatest assets any business person can have.
5. Give a speech
A lot of people hate public speaking. However, there are many organizations looking for qualified, subject-matter experts who can present to their groups. Take a deep breath and volunteer. You don’t have to be a pro as long as the information you share is helpful to the audience. And the upside — the more you do it the easier it gets. Plus, it positions you as a credible authority in your field. Also consider doing a professional workshop.
6. Create buzzI started my corporate career in the field of public relations and the business has changed significantly because of technology. Today, a small business owner can accomplish a lot without hiring a professional firm. Subscribe to Help a Reporter Out. You can respond to reporters’ queries that are looking for story ideas and resources. Some are small media opportunities, but others are major media outlets that use this service too.
7. Ask for referralsDon’t be shy about asking for customer referrals. The majority of people say they are willing to provide a referral if asked, but very few take the initiative to do it on their own. Referrals make it easier to get in the door with new customers. If you aren’t asking for them, you are missing opportunities.
8. Build relationshipsIt is a lot less expensive to keep a customer than it is to get a new one. That’s why establishing strong relationships with your customer base is crucial. One of the ways you can do that is by keeping in touch with people through email marketing. Ask your customers or clients for their email address when they visit your store or website. Then, make your communications informative, helpful and professional — something your customers will look forward to receiving. Just don't spam them with worthless junk and be annoying as they will dump or block you as fast as they gave you their addy.
9. Offer couponsCoupons are a good way for many businesses to attract new customers. Research shows that people will go out of their way to use a coupon, proving that this method is successful in expanding your customer base. Coupons can also generate return visits. For example, if you give a customer a coupon for a discount to use on future business, there’s a high probability they’ll be back.
10. Give it awayIf someone has the opportunity to experience your product or service, chances are they will want to purchase more. Don’t be afraid to give someone a free trial or a sample. In today’s economy, people are more comfortable purchasing something they have been able to experience first. These ten, inexpensive marketing strategies will help you engage customers, build relationships, and ultimately keep your brand top-of-mind. It’s not always about the money you have to spend on marketing, it’s about the time and effort you put into it and above all, the relevance it has for your customers.
FDMC Social and Digital Media LLC
You probably already know why your business should have a blog. Most small businesses do not and the answer I get the most is "I don't have time for that!" You do know you’ll increase traffic to your website, (if you don't have a website, shame on you and give us a call) blogging will also help build authority, provide useful information, and engage with your customers. You might even provide the information they need to make a buying decision. Unfortunately, most blogs get very little traffic and it is not that they can't it is because the way most people write them. Here are some tips to better blogging.
Who do you think you’re talking to?
Depending on what you sell or service you offer, your customers or clients might be a wildly diverse group of people and you might need a different approach for each type of person. So you might need to develop a number of writing styles to fit who you are trying to reach. Bring your style of writing to life. Basic demographics are fine, but you really need to know what your customers care about. When you know what they care about and what their pain points are, you can create blog posts they will be really interested in. Way too many businesses confuse dry, old-school articles with blog posts. Blog posts are a whole different animal. They are lively, often opinionated, casual, colloquial, and sometimes funny. In other words, they are chock-full of personality. Make it so. Just make sure to understand the difference between “controversial” and “abrasive” before taking any hot-button political stands. You also need to be ready to respond to your client base if they have questions or have their own idea or opinion about what you are talking about. Don't be holier than thou. Respect your customers or clients and respond!
Make a plan
I see two mistakes consistently made in content plans. Some businesses don’t have one, and their websites are like employee diaries. Have fresh content on your websites. I have actually found websites with old business addresses that the business was at a year ago. They moved and never updated their website. Websites are also not Facebook fan pages. Don't post personal things about you or your staff there. Nobody cares. They are there for information about your business, not your dog being in heat.
Mistake two is having too rigid a plan. Some larger corporate blogs follow a theme, and offer a lot of posts about one or two topics. This is a fine idea if you’re building a wheel-a central landing page that links out to a bunch of posts covering different aspects of one subject. But it’s pretty restrictive for small businesses to do this. Be open and creative and if you run out of ideas then start blogging on related topics relevant to your business. If you sell shoes, talk about how shoes made overseas might influence prices as a topic.
customers are looking beyond products to see what kind of company you really are. Millennials, especially, want to know how you treat employees, what causes you support, and whether you’re worthy of their hard-earned money. And since there are now millions of millennials now, every business needs to care about what they want. Millennials are connected socially, interact heavily with brands, are not impressed with advertising, and read blogs before making buying decisions. They place very high values on trust and accountability. More than ever before, businesses have to think beyond selling their products and build a brand reputation. Your blog is the perfect place to start, hand in hand with social media. That means revealing your mission, your future plans, and your inner workings. It means telling customers about your people, and showcasing your customers’ stories. Get personal. Ask for input and then implement it. Treat customers like part of the team. You must interact or have that option there to do so and respond back. Let them know there is someone behind the keyboard they can talk to.
Pain Point Finding
Why do customers buy your product? What need are they answering? How can your product fix their problem or make their lives better in some way?
Answer those questions in your blog. That’s what will draw people to your blog.
The initial success of your blog does not depend on the quality of your posts. Quality is what brings people back. You need to build your blog!
Attracting your first group of readers is the hardest...so don’t start cold. You may not know it, but you have influences such as vendors, for example. People you do business with, your customer list, and even businesses physically near you. Your local radio and television stations might even help out. Plan a big post for a local or online event you can leverage for publicity. Sponsor or present at an event and live-blog as it’s happening. This is a whole different topic which I will cover at another time. Video blogging is hot right now but I degrees. Host a giveaway or raffle. Do something big that fits your business and blog about it. Then keep blogging. Once you have done one or two, they become a standard part of your work plan.
FDMC Social and Digital Media
Google + is fast becoming a legitimate Social Media platform for small business. First, just being a product of
Google within itself makes it a powerful tool. The SEO (search engine optimization) capabilities of having a Google + account is huge. While it is still not the #1 Social Media platform, it is gaining popularity. So if you do not have a Google + account for your business, you should. Here are some quick tips for getting your business up and running on Google Plus.
First you do need to establish a "Gmail account which not only gets you a Google Plus site but also links you to You tube. ( you should have that as well for your business but that is another topic all in itself.) Next, complete your business "about page" Make sure you use keywords in your tagline so Google's powerful search engine finds your business. Make your introduction strong and make sure to link your other platforms such as your website. Do not forget your contact information as well. You may want to also connect with Google Local Pages This allows your customers to see where you physically are and your business overview and hours of operation.
The next items is building and marketing. This includes making great content, sharing that content with your other Social Media platforms, and promoting the same. As mentioned before, keywords, especially with Google
search engines is so important. Make sure you use keywords that promote your product or services. Use hash
tags. If you are not familiar with that click on my
link. That # sign actually allows links to what you offer for more information. This is all about sharing your content. Develop circles within your Google + account. Just like Facebook or Twitter, Google + allows you to add circles or business associates and friends. Finally, promote your page via links, talking with your fellow businesses, or using Google Hangout. This cool feature allows video interaction as well as live chat. Check out Google + and good luck with this exciting platform.
If you are into social media deeply or have been using it for some time, then you are probably somewhat familiar with Klout. Klout is a company that tracks your social media influence. It is easy to sign up for and gives you a
measuring and marketing platform to see how effective your efforts are. This company has been around awhile but recently has gained some popularity and is getting a foothold in businesses for providing analytics. The key word here is influence and not so much anything else.
So having said that who would care about using Klout? In a nutshell those who are trying to influence their audience or market share.
As you use social media and are trying to get a certain sector of the population to pay attention to you or your product or service, then using Klout will help you via your score they provide. The higher the score, the better your influence. If you are a small business or enjoy a local or small regional market then Klout is probably not for you.
Klout works best on a national or international stage.
How it works. As you produce engaging content or topics, followers who tap into your feeds are tracked by Klout through their very detailed analytics or algorithms. Simply, the higher your score (up to 100)
the better you are influencing your followers. Some say that
Klout does not really work that well and at the moment as I stated for small business, that is true as there just is not enough sampling for the system to be strongly effective. But if you are a say a famous speaker, offer a service or product geared toward a specific market and you are wanting a larger share of that market then give Klout a try. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Get yourself a plan of action, build great content and
start loading your social media!
I love networking. You might even call me a social butterfly ( Did I say that?)
If you go to a networking event and you return with no business cards in
your pocket or some jotted down notes then why did you go? While these events
are good for leads, they are also good to help other associates who might be
having a tough time with a sale, idea, job loss, staffing issues, or other events that
occurred in their business. These folks want more than a pat on the
back and a "I'm sorry to hear that." Relationships are built on developing trust
and if you can help them, they will help you. I understand competition in
today's world seems to be cutthroat and its all about survival in this
entitlement society we seem to live in but also SMB's who network see the same
familiar faces and from that, we learn to help each other.
Networking helps you succeed and yes, there is a
level of knowledge you need to be good at it. If you go to an event and sit on
your hind end drinking a beer or soft drink and wonder why nobody is talking to
you, then you don't belong there. You are selling yourself and your business.
You should come with business cards, look presentable (business casual for most
of these events) and smile. Some of my colleagues have suggested that at
networking events, don't go handing out business cards left and right and I tend
to agree. Most of these events are informal and a time to relax. If they ask for it
by all means then exchange cards but do not go handing them out to every new face you see.
Say hello, ask them what they do, and say how glad you are to meet them and also if they are new,
Introduce them to others you know to make them feel welcome and at home.
This will help them feel good about coming. One final note, if you do receive a card
with their email address is on it and you feel they may be a viable lead for you,
send them an informal email saying it was great to meet them. Dont load itup with
everything you do. Hopefully you have a business signature that explains that.
keep it simple on your first email contact and just say it was a pleasure to meet them
and you hope to see them at future events. Now you broke the ice and left an impression.
Another quick item with networking is what I like to term the A to B connection.
When you network, take charge of the conversations, listen, and always have an address
book in your head open. When you coordinate people with other people at
these events, you are remembered and it comes back in dividends to you. Just
because they may be looking fo something you don't offer, don't be a jerk and
say fine and walk away. If they need a hammer and all you sell is screwdrivers,
maybe someone at the event sells hammers. Put them together. If the new face
came looking for a job, ask them about their skills and maybe a temp agency or
you know of one of your contacts may be looking for someone with their skills.
Networking is more than meet and greet. It is looking at the big picture each
and every time.
My last comment is this. This is a no brainer but it has to be said. Do not over indulge
in the adult beverages if you drink. I have seen this one too many times when the
booze flows then the "Mr. Big Shot" takes over or the flirting starts and this
is not the time or the place for that. Most networking events offer an open or
cash bar but be responsible. You represent your business. Even if your friends
are there, say hello but move around and do what you came there for. Network!
I hope these tips were helpful and now go try them out. Let me how it works for you.
Markeing,especially in today's uncertain economy can be at the very least, a "hair
pulling experience." Some of us don't even have any hair left to pull. Here
are some tips that I found to be "standards in the industry" that will work if
you follow through. These tips in and if you don't you should. I hope you find
these useful.Marketing, especially in today's uncertain economy can be at the
very least, a "hair pulling experience." Some of us don't even have any hair
left to pull. Here are some tips that I found to be "standards in the industry"
that will work if you follow through. These tips
Listen To The Customer
Understand what your customer needs. Look through what they are saying and
help build a relationship to gain value in their growth. If you don't
understand your customer, how are you going to help them? Don't say "We can do
that" when in fact you really can't.
Know your Market or Vertical
Nothing is worse than going to market and committing
business suicide because you dont' know who you are selling to. Select your
customers you wish to target, study that vertical they are in, manage your
customers professionally. If you don't know their business make-up, how can you
expect to be of any value to them?
You must have
ties with your customers, with your vendors or distributors, and with your
staff. Everyone must be in your playbook if you want that home run, touchdown,
or winning basket. You are developing a relationship that you want for years to
come. If you are looking for a one stop sale, you can stop reading now.
I am going to use this term in the context of your
competition. It can be used as a global experience but most of you are focused
on your local market growth and your competition. The term "I don't need to
worry about what my competition is doing." is insane. Always watch your market
and see who is playing in it. As your vertical grows, your customer base grows
and if you're not in that circle, you need to find out why. What is your
competition doing? Are they getting a larger pieces of that pie? If so, why?
An example I can use here is health care. This is a huge vertical right now.
Marketing to this industry is on fire right now.
Every customer wants value. they want to know their ROI
with you. What is your value statement? Is it clear and concise to your
customers? Do they know doing business with you is going to not only going to
help grow their business but it will bring value to them and save them money?
If they don't understand this why should they do business with you?
Short term-Long Term Investments
How you position yourself in the market place as far as
investing in your business in this present day economy is tricky. Some look for
the short-term due to uncertainty in the business climate yet you can
short-change yourself if you don't look at the big picture down the road. I can
say this. If you don't do some investing in the tools of your trade for things
like lead generation, CRM software and support, you are setting yourself up for
a long and difficult climb.
I hope the above mentioned items will be of some help to you. Check out my
web site, Facebook site, and Twitter feeds for more information. Thanks!