Written by: Lynne Strang
If you’re a small business owner with limited funds for marketing, take heart. You don’t have to break the bank to market your product or service effectively. For greater brand awareness, consider these budget-friendly tactics and suggestions:
- Get positive reviews and testimonials. These help establish trust and enhance the credibility of your business. The best way to generate “organic” reviews (where people take it upon themselves to comment on their experience) is to provide great service and a quality product. Some customers, however, forget or don’t think about writing a review. Reach out and politely ask if you feel like the customer had a good experience. If you use email to make your ask, personalize your request to increase the odds of a positive response.
- Keep your website updated. As you collect testimonials, share them on your website. Make them easy to find. You might, for example, list them under a menu option that reads “Nice words from nice people” or “What others are saying.”
Regular website updates matter for multiple reasons. For one thing, search engines respond positively to fresh website content, making it more likely that your site shows up in a search. What’s more, if a prospective customer finds outdated information, it doesn’t leave a good impression — plus he or she might not be able to find you if your contact info is outdated. Make sure it’s current and your social media links work.
- Be social. Most businesses need a social media presence – but you don’t have to be on every platform. Think about your target audiences. Who buys your product or service? Where do they hang out in the social media world? Where do you get best engagement with your followers? Use these answers to guide you on where to focus your time and efforts.
- Build relationships with journalists and bloggers. While these relationships won’t happen overnight, cultivating them is a worthwhile investment of time and effort. A good media source is knowledgeable, reliable, honest and accessible. Once you establish yourself as a valued source, writers will contact you again and again – resulting in multiple opportunities to obtain exposure for your business through media mentions. To begin introducing yourself to media outlets with an interest in your industry or type of business, sign up for Help a Reporter Out (HARO), a service that connects journalists and bloggers with sources who have the expertise needed for a story.
- Start your own business blog. Take the time to produce useful, high-quality content. Your readers will come back for more – plus you’re more likely to get shares via social media. If you’re too busy to blog yourself, ask an employee or hire a writer. For more information on this topic, read “7 Tips for Better Business Blogging” published April 1 on SSB.
- Line up speaking gigs. This is a highly effective – and often overlooked – marketing technique for business owners. Speaking in front of groups lets others know about you, ask questions and better understand what you have to offer. You also establish yourself as an authority and gain confidence that carries over to other areas of your life.
- Volunteer strategically. Give back to your community and help your business grow at the same time. Encourage your employees to do the same. If you own a dog walking business, for example, volunteer at an animal shelter – where you or your team members may cultivate clients as you help prospective pet owners find a new furry companion.
- Include a signature block in your outgoing emails. A professional signature block usually contains your first and last names, title or position with your business, the name of your business and contact info (phone number, email address, etc.). It may also include links to your professional social media platforms and possibly a logo or headshot. Think of your email signature block as a digital business card of sorts.
- Host free events. A complimentary class, webinar or demonstration all offer ways to provide value to prospective customers while introducing them to your service or product. Congruency International’s Nicole Dunbar, for example, offers free LinkedIn group coaching events that help job seekers while showcasing her expertise in career transitions and business & career growth strategy.
- Network with other business owners. LinkedIn, Meetup groups, chambers of commerce, professional associations and – of course – the Small, Small Business Community are all places to meet fellow entrepreneurs, suppliers, consultants, prospective customers and others who can share information and help spread the word about your business.
Smart marketing doesn’t require a big bank account. It often comes down to the consistent execution of some basics. Be social, build long-lasting relationships and give back to your community. Create awareness of who you are and what you have to offer. Most importantly, provide great service, listen to your customers and deliver what they want. You can’t go wrong with these tried-and-true marketing fundamentals.
About the author:
Lynne Beverly Strang is a freelance writer who helps small business owners meet their communications and marketing goals. Prior to becoming a solopreneur, Lynne had a long career in public relations where her writing projects ranged from speeches to newsletters. Lynne is the author of Late-Blooming Entrepreneurs: Eight Principles for Starting a Business After Age 40. She has an award-winning blog, also called Late-Blooming Entrepreneurs. Her website is lynnebeverlystrang.com.