Small businesses are always in the process of building a loyal customer base, developing unique brand identity and gaining customer recognition. During the nascent stage, most small businesses find it difficult to commit funds towards marketing efforts.
Though some startups achieve massive popularity in virtually no time, this is relatively a rare occurrence. Viral marketing campaigns, celebrity endorsements and sheer luck are some of the factors contributing to the widespread early adoption of certain products/services.
So, what can you possible do to garner those valuable eyeballs even on a shoestring budget? For one, be creative and invest in quality marketing. Here are a few tips to help you do just that:
1. Invest in Looking Good
A good looking product with beautiful packaging, novel design, unique styling and great color scheme will catch attention. Great-quality packaging (rightly or not) is perceived as a reflection of the quality of product inside. So, whether you are selling an app or a lipstick, ensure that it looks amazingly better than its competitors.
If yours is a technical product like an online accounting tool, a fitness app or a cloud-based file sharing service, it has to be simple and navigable, fast-loading, user-friendly, free of cost, (at least for the trial period or for basic versions) and engaging. This will require you to invest resources in designing and user-testing for the end product to shape up well.
If you are in the beauty-care niche, it is extremely important that your product looks and feels super-luxurious and premium. Additional certifications like USFDA-approved and terms like ‘alcohol-free,’ ‘hypoallergenic,’ ‘fair trade’ and ‘natural,’ and the Leaping Bunny logo on the labeling make your cosmetic product attractive to discerning customers. Remember that high-quality cosmetics are expensive, so you may have to cater to limited clientele in the beginning and gradually grow your customer base.
2. Start a Blog
The power of a well-managed blog is immense and it can go a long way by building a new website and growing online fan base. Ensure that you post relevant, fresh, interesting and original content regularly.
Initially you will find crafting quality content time-consuming, but with time it will get easier. You will be more in the know of the latest happenings and developments in your industry, and easily spot relevant and trending topics. Also, ensure that you use analytical tools like Google Analytics, Bitly and Piwik to understand global online chatter and the hottest conversation topics in online communities around the world. The more informed and relevant your content is, the more audience you will gain.
After you have built initial traction, you can keep the audience engaged by running contests, doling out freebies, coupons, discounts and giveaways, and dispensing high-quality content through e-books and newsletters that users can access by signing up.
3. Grow Your Network
The better known an entrepreneur is, the more recognized his product or service will be. In order to start networking, try to attend as many trade shows, seminars, business events and product launches as you can. You will get to know others in your field and will be able to grow your social and professional network.
The people you know and the network you build will be of great importance to you, a budding entrepreneur. They are the result of your personal marketing genius and of the time and effort you have invested in nurturing them.
You can leverage contacts to open up distribution channels, collaborate in marketing efforts, access media outlets, and build buzz around your product. Further, you can also utilize the social media following of your friends to build brand identity. Often, thought leaders or influencers are more willing to pitch for your product when they have a great personal rapport with you.
A small business will always find fighting the marketing game with the multinational mammoths to be extremely tough. It is best to narrow down your target audience to a very specific and defined niche, and use your nimbleness to adapt your marketing strategies in real time. This is where small businesses score over big companies and excel in garnering customer attention.
Author: Ann Neal is a writer who writes on business, technology, frugal lifestyle and entrepreneurship. She frequently writes for freebies.org and enjoys discussing about the best practices of brand marketing, consulting companies on their positioning strategies that can be taken to their marketplace. Twitter: @Ann_G_Neal