Starting your own business is always a challenging proposition, but the allure of being your own boss and setting the agenda for your business is undeniably appealing. Unfortunately, getting to that point is far from easy.
Of all the challenges that new businesses face, finding room in the budget for marketing is one of the toughest. It puts business owners in a kind of catch-22; they need to promote the business in order to grow it, but they can only afford to promote the business after it has grown.
If you find yourself in this position, do not despair! By using what resources you do have carefully, you can promote your business in a number of ways without having to spend a fortune on marketing. Here are 5 simple things that any business can do to grow awareness of their brand.
Utilize Social Media
Using social media effectively is essential for any new business today. If you manage to use it the right way, it will provide a very powerful advertising platform, as well as a simple and convenient way to interact with customers.
For a small business, even a relatively minor marketing campaign on Facebook can provide an excellent return on your investment, putting your marketing in front of more people than you would otherwise be able to reach.
Another great way of making social media work for you is to offer prominent users of the platform a free product sample to review. Some platforms are better suited to this than others. For example, a YouTuber can provide a more in-depth review than a Twitter user can.
It is important that you carefully consider which social media platform is best suited for your proposed marketing campaigns. A campaign that would flourish on one platform might flounder and sink into obscurity on another.
Get Involved With Your Industry
Have a look online for any publications that cater exclusively to your chosen industry. You will often come across print magazines, newsletters, and websites that are aimed at people working in your field. These are excellent ways to expand your professional network and to add some prestige to your business.
Similarly, local newspapers and special interest magazines are a great way of getting your marketing in front of the right audience. Consider writing some opinion pieces for them, or even some articles with advice for other entrepreneurs who are looking to break into the industry. Placing an advertisement in a local magazine or newspaper, one that is tailored to that publication, is more likely to land you new business than a more generic advert.
Should an issue relevant to your industry make its way into the national media, capitalize on this by offering to provide comment and insight to any publications that might be interested.
Getting involved in your industry in this way is an excellent springboard from which to launch yourself into the potentially lucrative worlds of conference appearances and lecture circuits. The kind of credibility you will build in doing this is of enormous value to you individually and your business as a whole.
Consider Free Marketing Opportunities
Low-cost marketing is great, but free marketing is even better! Sending out emails to individuals and businesses who you think will be interested in what your company has to offer is one example of a free marketing technique. When done right, it can be a very fruitful means of generating new business.
Not everyone is receptive to cold calling (or e-mailing), but there are a number of other things you can do for little to no cost. Consider your personal vehicle. With a bit of work, it can be turned into a piece of prime advertising real estate. Printing and cutting out some stencils, which you can use to ensure that your handiwork is neat and tidy, shouldn't cost you very much. Once you have paid that small cost, your vehicle will provide you with years of advertising.
Institute a Referrals Program
One of the most effective forms of advertising is word of mouth. Even the slickest and most convincing marketing campaign pales in comparison to a verbal recommendation from someone we trust. But generating the kind of buzz that gets people talking about and recommending your business with their friends is a challenge.
Referral programs reward existing customers for bringing more business your way, thereby encouraging them to tell their friends about you. These programs are cheap and easy to set up, and they provide excellent motivation for satisfied customers to introduce their friends to your business. You could, for example, offer a percentage discount on their next purchase to any customer who refers a friend.
Creative Business Cards
Business cards might seem a little bit outdated, but there is a reason that so many people still use them; they are very effective. A plain old business card might help you to drum up some extra sales, and they will remind the holder that you exist, but a really innovative business card can do so much more.
By making your business card visually striking, and designing it with a theme that is relevant to your business, you encourage the recipient to hold onto it. This means that even if they have no need for your services right now, they will have your details on hand in the future. Not only will your business card stand out from any others they receive, but it will also show that you are someone who cares about how their business presents itself in every aspect.
These are just some of the low-cost marketing techniques that small businesses can utilize.
Once you start thinking creatively about how to market your business, you will realize that money is no obstacle to effective marketing. Be sure to monitor your sales following any new marketing initiative so you can work out what does and doesn't work for your business.