In today’s world, many small-scale businesses operate from a single location and are managed by single individuals. Some are even home-based. These small businesses must survive and thrive with low operating budgets. It can be a challenge for the small business owners to find affordable and easy ways to promote or market the products and services they offer to the right customer base. Maybe we can help.
Affordable and Easy To Do Small Business Marketing Tips
These marketing tips are suitable for small businesses which generally have tight marketing budgets, a smaller market and are operating with a few employees in one or a few locations only.
1. Establish an Online Presence
Today, if someone wants more information about a product or service, they’re most likely to research online. What they see will significantly influence how they arrive at their purchasing decisions.
So, even if your company does not conduct business online, it is important to be where customers and potential customers are searching for information about the services and products they want to buy. If they don’t see your business there, you lose the opportunity to be considered as a potential provider of what they need.
How online presence helps in small business marketing
Many small businesses establish their online presence with their own websites, social media pages, business directory listing or a combination of all three. Whatever your choice, the business will gain the following benefits:
• Accessibility – A company’s online presence allows potential customers to research the product or service it offers anytime and anywhere at their convenience. Many potential customers will most likely consider products or services with the information they need to decide whether to purchase or not.
• Better interactions with existing and potential customers – A business with an online presence provides current and potential customers with the venue to ask questions and clarify issues about the product or service offered.
It also gives you the opportunity to know your customers better. You can explain issues that could be preventing the customer from deciding to buy the product or service.
• Wider reach – People from any place with an internet connection can access businesses with an online presence. This will spread awareness about your business and attract more customers for your product or service.
Ways to Build an Online Presence
• Create business accounts in various social media platforms – It is an accepted fact that many people spend time on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other social media sites. However, they don’t just socialize there. There are many things to spend their time on. Some of them even read the news on their social media accounts.
A social media business account is free in the majority of social media platforms. You can post content and interact with other users which include your current and potential customers for free.
- For instance, Facebook has 1.79 million users daily. It is the most popular social media platform in the world.
- LinkedIn, the social media site where most business-to-business (B2B) marketers go has over 250 million active users per month.
- Instagram has over 500 million active users daily worldwide. Instagram posts are mostly photos or short videos.
- Twitter has over 320 million monthly active users, sending over 500 million tweets daily. So, you could tweet about your products and services to millions of active users.
- YouTube is the video-based social media platform where over a billion hours of video content are being watched daily.
List your business on relevant review sites and business directories
A business directory lists vital information about your business including operating hours, location, contact information, important links, some pictures (if provided) and other relevant information. Some listings include pages for reviews from customers. It is close to the online equivalent of the telephone directory.
Online review sites and business directories sites allow people to search for information about businesses in a specific area. Many consumers search for reviews before deciding to buy the products and services they need.
There are many review and directory sites. Google’s Google My Business is the largest. Make sure to study the rules of each site to use it correctly, enjoy the benefits and avoid penalties.
You also have to determine which business directories and review sites are most suitable for your business. For example, if your business is about travels, you may consider listing it on Yelp and TripAdvisor in addition to Google My Business.
Have a website
A website can help provide small businesses with more flexibility and control over their online presence as well as credibility. According to a survey, 84% of consumers believe a business with its own website is more credible than one which has a social media page only.
While businesses have more flexibility and control over the content on their website they have to abide by the rules of the social media platform
A website can also be a tool to grow the business and the email list. It is the online equivalent of your business card, product brochure or catalog. You save time in printing and distribution.
A low-cost small business website can be created using free website builders. Some website builders, like Wix , offers free tools, templates, apps, hosting and other forms of support to the website owner.
2. Use Videos in Marketing Your Business
Many surveys and advertising results show that videos, especially interactive videos, are now the consumers’ favorite type of content. People tend to pay more attention to a video than just audio or written content. It’s easier for potential customers to understand what a product can do by viewing a video.
That’s why 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool. A video can show a better description of what a product can do than the most convincingly- written explanation.
Marketing videos for small businesses do not need to be done by professionals. An engaging video using ordinary smartphones will do. There are many amateur homemade videos that have gone viral because they’re interesting and clear.
3. Form Industry Network
For small business owners, networking is critical not only for business development but also for their personal growth. It helps that networking can be an enjoyable activity.
Benefits of Networking
• Visibility – Visibility is one of the many big benefits of networking. If you regularly attend business and social events, people will begin to recognize not only you but also the product or service you provide.
• Sharing and learning ideas and knowledge – Networking is your chance to share useful information to interested parties. As a result, you develop a reputation as someone who is knowledgeable and supportive of others. You will most likely get business leads and referrals if people they know need your product or service.
On the other hand, you learn from the experiences of the people in your network. What you learn will help you avoid the mistakes they made.
• Confidence – Networking allows people to talk to people they meet for the first time. The experience helps them improve their confidence which is an important characteristic of business owners.
How to Form Industry Network
Here are some of the common ways for small business owners to network:
• Join Local Business Groups – Being part of your local business groups will give you the opportunity to meet up and share ideas with other like-minded people, share referrals and discover new opportunities. You’ll even meet some of your competitors.
• Attend tradeshows, conferences and other industry events
Trade shows, conferences and industry conferences can help small business owners to network with industry leaders as well as expose the products and services they offer.
Trade shows are usually open to the general public. It is a good venue to demonstrate how your product or service can benefit your target market.
Conferences can help small business owners enhance their business skills and their knowledge about the industry where they belong. Business owners can also avoid costly mistakes by learning from the experiences of others.
Before attending any industry event, try to research if the event is worth its cost. Read reviews or if possible, find a previous attendee or participant to learn from their actual experiences.
Announce to your target market that you will be participating in a trade show, attending a conference or other industry events.
Don’t forget to bring enough business cards. Everyone you meet should have your business card or it’s likely that they won’t remember you.
4. Partnership Marketing
Partnership marketing is a business partnership on a marketing campaign where complementary businesses collaborate on marketing know-how, technology, customer bases and other resources to achieve their objectives.
This type of marketing can be a more cost-effective way for small businesses struggling with their marketing resources to increase brand awareness and grow than if they choose to be a “one-man show.”
Partner with businesses with similar target market bases as your business. Some examples of complementary small business are:
• Professional collaborations where a copywriter and a website designer or a florist, photographer and an event planner present their combined services as one package to their customers. The customer will be saved from the time and effort of looking for each of the needed services. Since the partners know each other they will be able to work more harmoniously and efficiently that separate providers.
Their combined customers will be much more than their individual customers.
• Shared spaces online and offline. An offline example would be a snack bar that rents out space for an ice cream stand. Both will have reduced rental expenses and more customers.
Online, the complementary brands can share space on each other’s website or social media page. Or, they can do cross-promotion or share email lists.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Partnership Marketing
Before deciding on a partnership marketing agreement, small business owners should consider the advantages and disadvantages based on the following:
• Cost effectiveness – Don’t just assume that since you will be sharing costs, your business will save on expenses. Do an actual computation of all expenses to be incurred and the expected savings and results.
• Clear agreements – You need to clarify how you will work together, the expectations and how you will handle any future disagreements.
You need to have adequate conversations to exchange ideas before making the partnership official.
5. Offer Incentives for Referrals
Referrals are like positive reviews and 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know. According to the same study, 65% of new small business customers are from referrals.
Small businesses can start by offering incentives for referrals to their past and current customers as well as their employees.
Referrals from past and current customers
A referral from a current client is the best kind of lead you can get. You could offer incentives for customers to introduce new customers to your business. For example, you might offer them free products or services, or a discount off their next purchase for every referral.
Referrals from employees
You can also offer incentives to your staff members who refer new clients. You may try to find what incentive would motivate them to help grow your business.
Although your employees know your product or service, help them by providing the needed advertising tools and hold training sessions to teach your staff how to effectively promote your business to friends, family, and acquaintances.
6. Email Marketing
Using email as a marketing strategy is easy to do, low-cost, provides fast communication and can reach a large number of potential customers. According to research, there are over 3.7 billion email users worldwide and it is expected to reach 4.1 billion by 2021.
Small businesses may start with just a few email addresses. Growing an email list organically takes a lot of time but it’ll get better results. As you gain more customers, you have more email addresses from people who have opted in to receive emails because they want to hear from you.
There are email lists for sale. It is tempting to buy them but marketing experts say that it’s also unlikely to get you the results you’re looking for because you’re sending it to people who aren’t interested in your business.
Here are some tips in preparing your marketing emails:
• Format your email so that it is mobile-friendly and adaptable to several applications. More people check their emails anywhere and anytime at their convenience. According to studies, 77% of emails are opened in mobile devices.
• Make the unsubscribe links obvious to make it easy to unsubscribe.
• Comply with anti-spam and other email rules such as the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 to avoid penalties.
• Use pre-designed professional templates to make your emails look professional.
7. Hold Promotional Sales
When thinking about marketing ideas for small businesses, you may consider promotions because many consumers love a sale. Studies show that 69% of customers are more likely to try a product or service that is part of a promotional sale.
Examples of promos are the following:
• Buy 3 get 1 free – If you’re providing your services as a carpet cleaner, then you’d be giving the fifth cleaning free.
• Get 50% off for certain weeks or months only, which is a good idea during slower months.
Marketing is necessary for any business to survive and grow, but the cost should be within then operating cost budget.
The best small business marketing tips are the ones that will work for you. The only way you can figure that out is by experimenting and testing what gives the best and consistent results.