I often have small business start ups asking me for effective and affordable ways to market themselves.
It’s the things that are out of the every day norm that get noticed and talked about the most. Think outside the box and have fun!
Here are some practical suggestions which you can apply in YOUR business (at very little cost!):
- Swap promotional offers with other local businesses – Easy. No postage or leg work involved. For example, you run a café and your friend down the road owns a home wares shop. You both put a flyer in each others shop advertising one another and offering 10% discount, a free coffee, free gift wrap etc if they visit your store. Can be applied between any complimentary businesses.
- Keep track of birthdays or anniversaries – it’s amazing how much business is generated after someone accepts your birthday or anniversary greeting. The service suddenly becomes personal. I’ve seen businesses provide 2 free coffees in the month of a clients birthday, X% off for any services booked in the month of their birthday and 10% off their next service/booking as a thank you for being a long term client etc.
- Not for the faint hearted – Offer to do a free speech or presentation at a target audience event.
- Cross advertise your website and blog on all marketing material so your company name remains remembered and becomes a household name. Maybe add a memorable picture or tag line for added affect.
- Sales Bonanza– one I recently heard off which will work wonders. Give your employees flyers to hand out or verbally promote your big sale bonanza. Provide your employees with an incentive to bring back more and more sales within that day or week!
- Need your flyers distributed and can’t afford it? Ask a neighbour to do it during their morning walk. Or find a student or backpacker. Or pay Australia Post a minimal sum to include your flyers in PO Boxes within your desired area. Or add your flyers to other flyers in your local gym, doctors office etc.
- Make a stamp promoting a special deal or event – stamp the front of envelopes of all outgoing mail.
- Business Cards – Keep them handy at all times. Have some in different bags, in your glove compartment, in your wallet – you never know when you need them!
- Email Auto responders – Can get quite annoying if not done properly. Basically emails your subscribers automatically at any interval you decide with any content that you set.
- Party!!! – Affordable? Yes siree. Have one at your own office. Create a theme and get staff to help bring in a plate of something. Don’t forget the bubbly to celebrate your new launch, product, service etc.
- Make your stationary stand out – Aim to be different. A memorable picture or tag line. Magnet behind your business card? Thick or Thin? Round or Straight? Colour or black and white? Gloss or matt?
- Quirky gifts for clients which don’t cost an arm and a leg – engraved USB preloaded with some useful content, seed packet with a tag line ‘I’m in the business of making your business grow’ or a box of Panadol with a cover proclaiming ‘Headache from your tax? We’ll heal it’ Ideas are endless.
- Don’t forget the secretaries! – we all know that they run your clients day though no one ever appreciates them. Why not include a packet of Tim Tams for her (or for the office), during your next delivery?
- Marketing too costly? – Spread the cost with complimentary businesses. You can target each others businesses as well as new ones.
- Network, Network, Network – whether it be online or offline. Go to events where your target audience will be (ie Small Business Month, Chambers of Commerce, product launches related to your products or services etc)
- Organise surveys – find out if your current clients are happy, other services they’d like to see be offered, as well as your business strengths and weaknesses. This will get you new ideas or fix some outdated ones!
- PR – A tough one and must be done right to get your foot in the door. Your pitch must be current and appeal to the readership market of that particular magazine or newspaper.
- Offer magazines your product to use as promotional giveaways – usually get a plug for your product and website.
- Update your website – content must be frequently updated to ensure it’s current and useful to your websites visitors.
- Consider getting a toll free 1300 or 1800 number so your number can be more readily remembered
- Online Networking – Start a blog, guest blog on someone else’s blog, participate in forums (both general or specific within your industry), get on LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Don’t expect overnight returns. As in anything, you need to earn people’s respect and show that you know what your talking about!
- Have an office? – Have an ad lit up in your window all night. Use a banner advertising a current offer or service. Use A-Frames during the day advertising the deal of the day or month.
- Newsletters – great way to be remembered in between jobs/further contacts. Can be hard copy (but more costly!) or via email. But don’t send newsletters too frequently or the potential or current client will quickly unsubscribe.
- Offer Free Delivery – a lot of customers hate paying shipping and delivery costs, as it can be quite a costly experience in itself. Will really work to target all of Australia (or worldwide!?) Will pay you dividends by way of repeat business in the long run!
- Participate in pay-per-click advertising: PPC advertising is one of the most flexible, cost-effective ways to market online. Pay only when prospective clients visit your website. Spend as little or as much as you like. Set whatever spending level you want, change it anytime and test different messages to your heart’s content.
- Loyalty Cards – enough said
- Referral Systems – Ask your clients for referrals. If you don’t ask – they won’t refer you unless they are by chance ever asked for the service that you provide. … And if you do get a referral (regardless of its value to your business!) – don’t forget to say thank you. A hand written card, a little gift or a voucher. Something to show you that you actually care that they referred you a contact of theirs. If you don’t do anything – forget being referred again.
- Testimonials – potential clients always love to see someone say something good about your business. Put testimonials on your website, your flyers and on letters of introduction.
- Set up a market stall – showcasing your products or simply engaging with the locals (and providing them with useful content and a bit of marketing material at the same time)
- And the obvious – Word of Mouth. The most powerful form of marketing but also the hardest to achieve as you need to keep reminding your clients to be your marketers!
Got more marketing ideas?
Please leave a comment or email them in.