Friday, December 16, 2011
Marketing for small businesses is vital, and it can be prohibitively expensive. With a shoestring budget and a big need to get the word out about a business, what is an entrepreneur to do? Never is creativity and thinking outside the box more important!
The Big Three
Saving money while marketing your business is possible, but it does require a mindset change. Newspaper, radio, and television are great mediums, though with premium pricing. Local cable television is a reasonable option if you accept less than prime viewing hours, and radio hosts often look for guests to interview about their areas of expertise. Big daily newspapers are frightfully expensive, but smaller weeklies, coupon clippers, and penny saver versions are typically sensible choices. The point is not to assume something is too expensive without exploring all the alternatives.
Reward when Due
When customers visit, tucking flyers and coupons in with their purchases is a wise move. Adding promotional items with shipped purchases and invoices saves postal charges along with giving customers a small thank you for their business. Forming a marketing alliance with related businesses can be a win-win situation for all involved. Shared mailing lists and advertising can help all the involved businesses to increase sales.
Refer and Repeat
Friends and family are great sources of marketing help. They can refer business and help to create buzz about the company through word-of-mouth advertising. Incentivizing those who help the most with a restaurant gift card is probably a wise idea. Businesses often overlook a great resource they have right in their rolodex: happy customers! These clients can help with written testimonials or simply by telling people what a business can do for them.
Impress the Masses
Demonstrating expertise in a field draws customers to a company’s products or services, so owners would be wise to speak at local or niche meetings, write an article for a local magazine or news agency, or teach a course at the community college. People naturally gravitate to businesses and owners who seem able to solve their problems.
Certainly, today’s business climate lends itself well to online marketing. This is true for both local brick-and-mortar businesses and service-only internet businesses.