So, you’ve set up your small business and you’re ready to take the next step when it comes to sourcing new customers and enticing return customers – but marketing your business can be daunting when it comes to cost.
Laurel Mintz explains the reasoning behind why new companies should use 12 to 20 percent of their gross revenue or projected revenue on marketing. While this investment may seem daunting to new business owners, there are some great cost-effective ways to ensure this investment gives you the biggest bang for your buck.
If your business is running on a shoestring, or you just want to be careful with your budget, the more traditional mediums of billboards, radio and television ads and big mailouts probably aren’t the right option for your business.
Instead, use your money strategically – it’s often hard to figure out the best direction to take, so here are four options for you to consider.
1. Online Marketing Essential – A Business Website
While many will remember heading to the local phone book for information, those times are well behind us. These days, a quick search of the internet can bring up all the details someone needs to choose your business over others.
There are many options for building your own website that make it an easy process if you’ve got a little bit of web savvy. Alternatively, chatting to your local web developer will give you an estimated cost to have them complete the website for you. Reputable developers should assess your business needs before commencing the development process.
If you want an effective website, make your business information concise and easy to find. Users should be able to find your location, opening hours and contact information with only a few quick clicks. You should also have information about your products or services readily available on your website.
If your business is only just starting out and your budget does not permit a full website build, consider free options such as Google’s website builder available through a Google My Business listing. While the capabilities are somewhat limited, it does provide you with the ability to provide business information to your customers while you improve cash flow and can build a more advanced website.
2. Instore/Onsite Advertising
There are many great ways to market your business instore (if you have a business location) or onsite (if you visit your customers). Printed shade cloth advertising is highly customisable and budget-friendly, making it an effective low-cost marketing option for outdoor advertising.
Shade cloth rolls are great for construction sites, local events and large venues where hundreds or even thousands of people will be exposed to your advertising and branding.
It’s also reusable, which means it’s more cost-effective than a billboard or radio and television time slot, and it’s more flexible. You can advertise while working onsite or while running events across different locations without an additional cost outlay.
If your business works with building sites or events or even has a piece of real estate in a high foot traffic area, printed shade cloth can give you bang for your buck on a cheap budget.
3. Business Cards and Brochures
Business cards might seem a little bit “old school”, but think of it this way – they’re a cost-effective tiny catalogue of your services that can help you market to potential customers.
If you’re handing your business card to someone, it’s likely that they’re already in the market for what you sell – but it’s vital to ensure they choose you over others.
When you hand your card to someone, make the experience memorable – use it as a conversation starter and promise a follow-up. That way, the person knows you’re genuine and will be more likely to seek your business out – maybe even before you have the chance to get in touch with them.
Likewise, with brochures. While you may worry about someone just throwing your brochure in the trash, the benefits far outweigh the potential of that happening!
Consider adding testimonials from happy customers as well – many potential customers are keen to see whether other clients have had a positive experience.
4. Word of Mouth
You likely have many existing customers that love what you do – so see how you can harness them to spread word of mouth. A customer referral program could net you some new interest!
It’s also important to get your name out into the local community – think about sponsoring a kids’ sporting team, or a local fun run. Think about how your customers spend their time, and print flyers and leave them in appropriate areas to get your message out there.
In today’s digital age, the online equivalent of word of mouth is online reviews. Prompting your happy customers to leave a review expressing their satisfaction with your services will provide assurance to potential customers that view these reviews. Free tools such as White Spark’s review handout generator can help provide your customers with an easy guide to leaving you an online review.
It’s also important to look at one of the oldest tricks in the book – networking! Get out there, shake some hands, attend events and speak to people. It might take some effort, but it’s mostly free and a strong network means people can trust your business.
Once you begin gainng results and see what marketing your business online can do for your business, it’s always good to look for a trustworthy agency to help you ramp things up as you increase budgets.
Author: Alex Hamilton
Alex is interested in the constant changes in businesses and how small business owners can adapt and embrace these changes. He is often writing informative pieces on efficient business practices and providing some great ideas for SMEs.