When budgets are tight, marketing and trying to promote your small business is the last expense you want to incur or increase.
But before you decide to decrease your budget or cut out marketing altogether, read this.
Traditional advertising methods are costly and is hard to measure. With traditional marketing, you have no idea who is engaging with your promotional items or where they’re coming from.
Here are ten great ways to promote your small business on a shoestring budget.
1. Craft and perfect your elevator pitch
You should be marketing all the time and wherever you happen to be. This is especially true for small businesses.
Research shows the average attention span of an adult today is about six to eight seconds. That’s all the time you have to grab someone’s attention. Once you have their attention then you have about a minute to really sell them on your product or service. So take the time to craft a killer elevator pitch. It’s free to do and the return on your time investment here will pay huge dividends in terms of creating business opportunities.
2. Leverage your existing community
One thing I see a lot is that most small businesses want to reach as far and wide as they can right away. You don’t have to think a large scale when it comes to your marketing efforts. Think locally. Print bookmarks with your logo and leave them at the local library or hand them out to your customers when they come in. Give discount coupons to your local customers and promote them on your Facebook and Instagram profiles. You’ll create goodwill and get more visibility in your local area.
3. Collaborate with other local businesses
This might sound counter-productive, but it works. Put together a group of synergistic, non-competitive, complementary 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 other local businesses, you can expand your customer base because you’ll be reaching new people.
4. Network locally
I love networking and 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. The key to networking is not to “sell” your product or service but to get to know your local public. Networking locally does 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 at local events or host your own
Public speaking can seem a bit daunting, however, many organizations are looking for qualified, subject-matter experts like you who can present to their groups. Get up to bat and volunteer. You don’t have to be an expert public speaker just provide information that is helpful to the audience. The upside? It gets easier, it helps position you as a credible authority in your field and you can promote it on your website and social channels.
6. Ask your customers for reviews
Asking for reviews might seem awkward but customers are happy to provide them if asked. Online reviews increase your local credibility and presence in the community. You can ask customers for reviews in person, via email and more. One important thing to remember here is to ask for an honest review from customers who have actually used your service or business.
7. Ask your customers for referrals
Many small and local business owners are shy about asking for referrals. The truth is most customers are willing to provide a referral but usually won’t take the initiative to do it on their own. Personally, I love referrals and leverage them regularly. Referrals make it easier to get in the door with new customers. If you aren’t asking for them, you are missing huge opportunities.
8. Build your customer relationships
Believe it or not, It 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 and continually promote your small business is by keeping in touch with people through email marketing.
Don’t be afraid to ask customers for their email address when they visit your store or website. Then, make your email messages to your customers informative, helpful and professional so that your customers will look forward to receiving an email from you.
9. Offer discount coupons
Coupons are a great way for many businesses to attract new customers. Research shows that most 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 away
Think of how much more willing you would be if you had the opportunity to try a product or service. Prospective customers are the same. If a prospective customer has the opportunity to experience your product or service, chances are they will want to purchase more, which means new customers for your business.
Many small businesses are afraid to give someone a free trial or service. Don’t be afraid to give someone a free trial or a sample. In today’s economy, people feel more comfortable purchasing something they have been able to experience first, so if you can, offer a free trial, sample or service. It’s a great way to promote your small business and show value to your prospective customers.
Use these ten, affordable marketing strategies to help you promote your small business, build customer relationships, and ultimately keep your local or small business top-of-mind in your area. Marketing is not just about the money you spend, but it’s also about the time and effort you put into it and above all, how much it resonates and connects with your customers.