Marketing the Small Business

Question: I launched my small business a year ago on the Cape and had limited marketing funds. Any thoughts on inexpensive, yet effective marketing approaches?

Answer: You are not alone. Most small business launches have limited marketing funds. However, there are many tactics that can be employed. The whole idea is to stretch what few marketing dollars you have to maximize your impact.

Learn all you can about digital marketing/social media. Try these free online workshops.

Publish great content. In social media or digital marketing, content is paramount. You know your business best, and you can create content that is dynamite by attracting buyers to your differentiators or your uniqueness. When you create content, think about what your buyers want to know and give it to them. It might be tips, hints, and techniques to use your products or services more effectively or efficiently. It might be collections of information from others in your industry. You also might want to view this free online course to create great blogs.

Create your videos. Video content gets the greatest visibility because blog and web users like to see action, motion, and how-to-dos. You can spend lots of your resources hiring a professional videographer, or you can do it yourself. Making a YouTube video and posting it on how to use your product or seeing your service in action confirms the value in the mind of the potential buyer. If you are unsure of how to shoot a video go to Wista and view the tutorial.

Become a savvy social networker. Don’t use your personal accounts. Create business accounts to participate in sites that can add to your business’s awareness – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn. If you have a visual business, like a women’s apparel or jewelry business, add Instagram to the list of “must be on” social media sites.

Try Infographics. We live in a visual world. Just like videos attract attention, Infographics are powerful marketing tools. They tell stories visually. They add value because they give information on your behalf that will benefit your current customers or potential buyers.

Ad content by breathing new life into old blogs or articles. Recycle your content. Since hiring a content writer can get expensive, you might take what you wrote two years ago and reconstitute it, update it, give it a different slant and reuse it. You might research your industry and find a study that will be of interest to your customers and focus the results on your business. By using the most important elements of the study results as the core of your message you are providing value and promotion at the same time.

Actively participate in LinkedIn discussions. The most underutilized element of LinkedIn are the discussions. If you are a business-to-business marketer, then your customers want to deal with a leader. You gain value amongst your buyers by being viewed as a subject matter experts. When you participate in industry-wide discussions, customers will be reaffirming their choice in working with you, and potential buyers will see that working with you will yield more than just a product or service.

Ask for referrals. One of the easiest and least expensive ways to increase your awareness is to create a referral program that incentivizes current clients to refer prospects to you. Word-of- mouth is still the most powerful marketing tool in the quiver, so use it by offering your current clients a bonus for passing on a name and contact information for someone they have talked to about your products or services.

Generate strategic partnerships. One way to reach out beyond your current circle of clients is to create partnerships with others in your industry sector that can refer you and you. If you are a landscaper, create a strategic partnership with a lawn and garden center. If you are a painter, create a partnership with a builder or paint supply company. Find those who are not competitors, where your referral will mean business for them and you. When you partner, you are getting twice as much exposure since they are promoting you and you are promoting you.

Host an event. Open houses are more than parties. Unlike trade shows, private events are a controlled environment where everything from the attendee list to the content delivered, are controlled by you. When you position yourself as the host, attendees remember what is communicated since there is no competition for their time or attention.

There is a myriad of ways you can market your small business without investing your retirement funds.

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