Limited marketing budgets verses the must of being seen and heard to thrive and grow is a vexing problem that most all small businesses share. Marketing itself is this huge entity with various and assorted branches and possibilities, and it’s easy to get sucked into expensive tactics that may not even be effective. Professional marketing services to help you sort it all out are expensive. Just when you think you might have a winning marketing formula, circumstances, such as the economy, can change on a dime and leave you to completely switch gears.
Before getting overwhelmed and discouraged by the vastness and cost of marketing, remember it’s purpose – to put your business in the face and hands of potential customers. Ask yourself one fundamental question: What is the most cost-effective and results-efficient way for my business to promote itself? Simplify to methods that are low cost and high impact.
Use these five tactics to effectively promote yourself without outsourcing marketing or spending a fortune:
- Build Your Online Presence
Even if you’re strictly brick and mortar, customers today expect to find you online. Your online presence is a huge part of the customer vetting process. Thanks to the power of social media, it’s also a free source of easy B2B, B2C, and C2C promotion. Here are some ideas:
- Responsive, optimized website that’s easy to navigate and clearly defined.
- Blog with relevant, green, quality content to help you add value to potential customers and be easily found by search engines.
- Adhere to SEO best practices. This doesn’t even take a professional. Outsourcing just frees up your time once you have a bigger budget. Once you learn the basics of SEO, you’ll discover that there’s not a special sauce or magic formula to SEO. Aside from blackhat SEO, which is actually more harmful than helpful in the long-term, everyone follows the same rules.
- Use free listings for local businesses, such as Google and Bing, to get your NAP out.
- Set up your social media business profile on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram, and make regular, consistent, valuable postings. Measure the effectiveness of your social media presence and campaigns so that you’ll learn where to focus your efforts, create contests, and pay for boosts.
- Build Your Tangible Presence
Customers love to have a tangible representative of your business. It’s something they can physically hold, use, or pass along. For you, this means that others see and possibly inquire about you. Here are some ideas:
- Use promo merchandise. It’s a brand awareness tool that costs very little for the positive reinforcement it offers. A simple pen or tote bag promo can lead to over 3,000 impressions. Wearable promotional products such as caps and t-shirts are also great ways to build your brand.
- Leave space on your business cards and have the right composite so that you can write on it at every opportunity. Whether it’s someone coming in asking directions to another business, a vendor wanting your phone number, or a client you just served, take every opportunity to get your card out into the world.
- Interlink your materials. QR codes, for example, link tangible handouts directly to your website.
- Build Your Community Presence
One of the main objectives of your marketing strategy should be to establish yourself as a trusted authority. While this takes time and diligence across many channels, these ideas can help your resume become rounded without incurring a big cost:
- Join local and national professional groups, chapters, and associations relevant to your business.
- Paid memberships can help funnel your target customers.
- Immerse yourself as a local business by supporting community events and entities.
- If selling a local service, attach your name to the geographical area as often as possible.
- Run a webinar to solve or support local issues whilst injecting industry news and topics that pair your business with those solutions.
- Ask local customers to review your business online.
- Offer to be a speaker or contributor at industry conferences, volunteer organizations, local business group meetings, and other events.
- Turn transportation into a free advertisement. Don’t forget to include your employees. You can simultaneously boost their morale whilst furthering your marketing efforts by creating decals with your logo that’s personalized to employees, such as with their name or “employee of the month.”
- Build Your Media Presence
Here are some ways to use the media to your advantage:
- Newspapers, magazines, and blogs are always wanting quotes and article submissions from experts.
- Become a reporter informant/source by joining a PR lead services, such as HARO (Help A Reporter Out.)
- Offer to give popular YouTube channels, news stations, and the alike free live demos of your product or service.
- Do get permission to promote your publicity on your own website and within your own marketing literature.
- Know When To Compete And When To Collaborate
Don’t be afraid to take help where and how you need it. Here are some ideas that don’t spend money on outsourcing:
- Larger businesses often want to work with the smaller guys when they have a customer overload. To keep customers happy, they’ll refer them to a smaller competitor versus having them go to their direct competition.
- Network with businesses that complement your own services and products. Cross-promotion, referrals, shared mailings, lead passing, and so forth between two small businesses serving different goods and products to the same market is a big win for both.
- Use affiliate or resale programs to help generate leads in return for freebies or commissions.
In closing, the above five areas hold so many possibilities for low-cost, highly-efficient promotion of your small business. You don’t have to be a marketing expert or pay big dollars for big results. Plus, you’ll notice that many of these can be implemented as you are practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.