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Beyond the Logo: Unconventional Branding Tips for Small Businesses

By: SmallBizClub



Brand awareness is vital for small businesses. When you’re a small business or just starting out, you often don’t have very high profit margins. This means that you don’t usually have a lot of spare cash to spend on advertising your business.

But you don’t need to have millions in the bank to market your brand. This is where clever marketing and brand awareness tactics can really put your business ahead of the rest.

When done right, these marketing tactics can take your business out of anonymity and go even further than just brand recognition. Of course, it’s great when people recognize your logo, fonts and brand colors. However, we’re talking about building an emotional connection with your brand that immediately springs to mind whenever someone sees your logo.

6 Strategies for Marketing Your Small Business

Here’s how you can grow your reach and get your brand noticed.

  1. Referral Programs

Referral programs might not be that unconventional when you think about it, but they are still quite unexpected. You can take a small idea and get global reach by giving customers an incentive for sharing and actively getting other people to invest in your offerings.

The biggest example of how to do this has to be Dropbox. Every person who signs up for a Dropbox account gets asked to refer people in their email contact list. For every person who then signs up for an account and downloads the software onto their computer, the referrer gets an extra 500MB of storage space for free. It works like a charm.

Referral programs work really well for businesses that offer an ongoing service, or ones that expect regular repeat customers.

  1. Unexpected Local Partnerships

Local partnerships are a great way to pool resources for smaller businesses and to build brand awareness locally. If two companies combine their budget for one campaign, you can get far more traction on your adverts than if you did it alone.

If you want to make a splash, then try to go for an unexpected partner. One family-run restaurant could team up with another family-run restaurant—even though they’re direct competitors. These two restaurants could offer a prize to people who eat at both places in one week or one month. It’s unexpected and likely to get people talking more than offering to sponsor a local sports team.

  1. Use Your LinkedIn Profile

When you run a small business, you’re quite often the face of the company. This means that you’re the person people imagine talking to when they get marketing emails or read your website. You can really capitalize on this by making your personal social media a part of your marketing strategy.

On LinkedIn, you can share the posts you put up on your company’s page. Or you can go one step further and write your own posts about your business and industry. The platform also has what they call Pulse Articles, which are essentially like blog posts that can be found, engaged with and shared by other users and Pages.

When you have this personal touch, you can build a far stronger connection with your customers than by posting articles on your company blog or company page. That connection might just be what you need to win people over from competitors.

  1. Target Your Competitors’ Customers

Speaking of winning customers over to your business, one great way to be subversive and unexpected is to actively target the people shopping at your competitors’ stores. In the real world, this could look like putting flyers on windshields in the street or parking lot outside a competitor’s premises. You could look at where they place adverts in local newspapers and get in there first.

Online, it gets a little bit more complicated. It’s not really considered good form to post on other companies’ Facebook Pages or adopt similar tactics. However, you could run targeted ads focused on people who like certain Pages.

  1. Launch An Exclusive

Everyone likes to feel like they’re getting special treatment. For a startup, if you launch in Beta phase to an invitation-only customer base, you’ll be amazed at the great word-of-mouth marketing you’ll get. Those on the inside will feel special and want to promote your product or service out of a newfound loyalty. Those on the outside will want to know what the fuss is all about and get in on the action as soon as they can.

Sure, this is a little trickier for an established small business. However, you can still launch a loyalty program or referral program for your customers and only offer it to those who’ve shown great loyalty to your business. Once the program is established, you can open it up to other customers.

  1. Hand Out Freebies

We already know that people like special treatment and handing out freebies is another great way to give it to them. It can be something as simple as a sticker with your logo on it to branded pens, T-shirts, caps and bags. You could even hand out free samples of your product. Just be sure to get great photos of the products and the people when you do.

Every time that freebie is used in public, your brand is going out into the world. When people using that product get asked about the logo or the company, they’ll probably tell the person about you with a smile—building that emotional connection. Even if the customer isn’t asked about your brand, the simple act of them wearing a T-shirt with your logo on it speaks volumes about your business and how you treat your customers.

Be More Than Just Another Small Business

There are so many ways to market a business. Some of them cost a lot more than others, and some are expected by the customer.

For a small business, it’s important to keep costs down so that you don’t eat into your profit margins. Following on from that, it’s important to try unexpected or unconventional methods for marketing so that you can make your brand stand out without paying a fortune.

Published: March 27, 2023

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SmallBizClub.com is dedicated to providing small businesses and entrepreneurs the information and resources they need to start, run, and grow their businesses. The publication was founded by successful entrepreneur and NFL Hall of Fame QB Fran Tarkenton. We bring you the most insightful thinking from industry leaders, veteran business owners, and fellow entrepreneurs. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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