8 Small Business Marketing Ideas
[toc]If you run a small business, you probably don’t have the budget like that of major corporations. The challenges and limitations you face can make the feat of climbing that ladder all the way to the top of your industry seem nearly impossible. You could be asking yourself how you could ever be a competitor when you don’t have million-dollar marketing resources to stay on top. You and many others might be agonizing over how you spread the news without spreading yourselves too thin. You might wonder what you will have to eventually pay out to get money coming back in. There’s good news for you because there are plenty of avenues that will let you market your business without you having to cross your bottom line. Take to the bank these small business marketing ideas:
Get Your Business Online if you haven’t already. GYBO is a partnership between Google, Homestead, and Intuit. They understand that your potential customers are searching for you on the internet which is why they are offering free website hosting for up to a full calendar year. When they say free, they literally mean free! Granted, after the year is over you will have to pay for the system. You also have the option to pay beforehand in order to unlock the rest of their platform’s capabilities. There are many other web hosting platforms. GYBO is one of the best options, though, because of how much they offer at a low-risk and minimal cost. Your website comes with 3 pages, integrated social sharing features, a customized domain name, drag-and-drop website designing tools, and listings on Google Maps. A website optimized for search engines and set up to capture leads will generate business effortlessly, making your own website the best salesman you could ever have. It may take some elbow grease to get it up and running, but it will be incredibly worthwhile.
2. Send some emails. On second thought, send lots of them.
Long gone are the days that consumers pay attention to snail mail advertisements unless they come plastered with mouthwatering images of pizza or any other comfort food that’s going to make them hesitate over the recycling bin. If you’re not one of Five Guys or growing the next Olive Garden, then you would be better off focusing your energies on email marketing rather than direct mailing. It may seem like a great idea to reach more potential customers by covering more advertising bases, but that kind of strategy would be like blindfolding yourself at a shooting range (and you can probably imagine how damaging and ineffective that would be). Email marketing, on the other hand, is targeted for the fact that it lets the customers who are actively searching for you willingly inquire receive what your business offerings. Having an easy-to-find website is the first step. The next step will be setting up an opt-in form where browsers can divulge their contact information. Email marketing begets valuable leads, which creates more clientele and increases your chances to become more profitable.
3. Write blogs or guest blog.
‘Are you feeling lucky?’ as Google raunchily asks. If so, then go right ahead and do both. What you write about in your blog or for other blogs will solely depend upon your business model. The automotive or technical repair industries, for example, might struggle with the prospect of blogging. It’s not all that appetizing to read “Top 10 Tips for Changing Your Hubcaps.” People still need that information, believe it or not. Google will be the bridge between their curiosity and the propositions of your outstanding services.
The website for a mechanic’s website might not be the sexiest place to read an eye-popping blog either. Guest blogging can factor in to spice things up. You can benefit from the traffic sent to your website from major blogs even if their audience does not live within your immediate vicinity. A guest blog will also generate backlinks for you. Think of them like miniature word-of-mouth marketers that talk a good game for your business by telling Google to bump you up in the search results. As you recall, the easier you are to find then the better your chances will be to attract customers to you.
4. Make social media your friend.
What would the world of eCommerce do without social media? Well, perhaps product-based businesses would still be using the conventional marketing methods that worked for them beforehand. Many small business owners who have gotten too set in their ways often get overwhelmed by social media for this reason, and understandably so. It’s a new medium. It presents new challenges. It’s dynamic and has a learning curve the size of Mount Everest. The ROI of social media marketing is also a bit more difficult for the novice internet marketer to analyze.
Just because social media is a whole new world on its own does not mean you should lose it in the bottomless pit of your to-do list. Take it on gradually. Start by creating profiles on either Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or any combination of those. A Google+ page will be one of the most comprehensive starting points because it synchronizes with Google Maps and other Google programs. Most importantly, using social media will generate other small business marketing ideas. Before long, you might start to have a little fun with it.
5. Support local.
If you have ever passed through a small town, you might have seen the front windows of the quaint shops and dining venues placarded with literature of all sorts. Posters for the high school play, lawn care flyers, signs of apartments for rent, business brochures–you’ve probably seen it all. If you’re a web-based business, you might have scoffed a few times at the thought of expending any energy printing off flyers. Before you continue sauntering past the idea of this traditional form of marketing and advertising, picture all the counter coupons you have seen that offered discounts redeemable in-store as well as online. Small and big businesses alike are making use of this method. If they can, then why can’t you? Some things come and go, but other things (like paper and ink) never phase out.
6. Publicize yourself.
Making publicity a priority in your marketing will be like putting yourself into a slingshot. At some point, it could easily set you back by devoting the time that it’s going to take to land a media hit. When you finally do get media coverage for your business, it will act as the kinetic energy that rocket propels your business forward. This happens because you gain access to a larger, more attentive audience through the media outlets you target; and the larger the media source, the better.
You can get publicity coverage by sharing insights that will be valuable to other consumers or business owners. Whatever angle you develop for your pitch to the media, you will want to craft it based upon your line of business and what the media is looking for. Heck! While you’re at it, share some of the small business marketing ideas that have worked for you. Who ever said you couldn’t be a savvy marketer and, let’s say, a yoga teacher at the same time?
7. Be a philanthropist.
Here is an important forethought: don’t be philanthropic just to market your business. Do you remember those early days of getting community service hours? Sure, maybe it was a drudgery then, but in the long haul it probably taught you about the importance of serving others. The same principles that you hopefully learned from those experiences should apply to your business as well. By sponsoring an event or by joining forces with a nonprofit organization, you are broadcasting that you, as a business owner, have values.
For instance, if you’re a real estate agent then you might be interested in a project that helps low-income families secure housing. Whatever it is that you do, you will want to find a cause that you personally would want to support and sign onto it. Your business can be used as an ambassador to communicate your values as well as your passions to the public. A philanthropic campaign can also bring like-minded people into contact with you, and they will more than likely be your ideal customers since you both would already be on the same page.
8. Buy ads like you mean it.
You could say that this is the most obvious of all the small business marketing ideas. Certainly, it’s common for businesses of all sizes to use paid advertising as a way to get in front of a buying audience. With all the options–from AdSense to that minuscule pea-sized ad space on the dingy place mat at your local diner–choosing the right outlet that is going to pay off dividends isn’t so simple. It makes social networking look like cartwheels being done beside a gymnastic routine. Try not to get overwhelmed by the plethora of advertising options. Don’t go in with that same blindfolded open fire strategy either.
Simplicity is the word of the day. Find an avenue that will make it easy to measure results. You can supplement your counter coupons or whatever medium of print marketing you choose with print ad. You could consider offering the same deal in a publication or on a highly trafficked website (i.e. 20% off your order when you use XYZ code). If you want something with a longer duration like a commercial ad or a billboard, prepare it at least 4 months in advance. Target a specific holiday or a region to maximize your ROI.
Phew! Surely your brain is full and already shutting down from all these small business marketing ideas. If any of these 8 tips overwhelm you, keep in mind that they’re written in a rather chronological order. If you take each one step by step, you’ll be setting your business up for marketing success, one full cartwheel at a time.
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Sources for images: Flickr