Starting a new business is always nerve-wracking as you put your heart and soul into your idea and hope others are as excited about what you have to offer as you are. Reaching new customers is one of the trickiest issues for start-up companies. The future of advertising is online, so you should start there.
Create an Excellent Website
Even if you have a brick and mortar store and hope to conduct much of your business in person, it is still extremely important that you have a user-friendly, up-to-date website. Many people prefer online ordering, and if they can’t figure out how to do that quickly and easily through your website, they might not have any qualms about abandoning your company and finding one that is easier to interact with. Your website should answer all reasonable questions. Credit card payments can be simplified with a Google Forms alternative or another program.
Add Interesting Content
Your website can be more than just a catalog of your wares. Consider hiring a couple of writers to create content that might interest your shoppers. For example, if your business is making furniture, post some articles about how furniture can be used to express individuality or create a video showing the making of a piece of furniture from start to finish. If you offer a financial service, create content about how a young person can start a savings account or an introduction to buying and selling stocks.
Utilize Online Advertising
Your business may not be large enough for TV ads to make sense, so focus on cost-effective alternatives such as Facebook and Instagram ads. Facebook works well if you already know your target demographic. With Instagram, it’s best if you have a brand influencer add your products or services to their page. Bing and other search engines use a keyword system that charges you to place an ad at the top of a user’s search. The more popular the keyword, the more expensive the ad. There are also cost-per-click services where you don’t pay unless someone clicks on the ad.
Use Social Media Socially
Beyond advertising on social media pages, create a Facebook page, and Instagram, Reddit and Twitter accounts. Keep the information on these pages filled with pictures of your products and happy customers. Avoid anything political because even with the best intentions, there is almost always backlash. Posting something for or against a specific viewpoint may gain you a few customers, but you’re likely to lose just as many. Instead create a hashtag that customers or staff can use when they incorporate your product in a positive way.
Create a Challenge
Isolate your target demographic and create a virtual challenge. Participants can post their entries on there and your social media pages with a linking hashtag. The contest or challenge doesn’t have to be anything crazy or expensive. It can be as simple as a picture showing your product in use in an unusual location.
Another option might be a video contest where each month, customers show your product with a baby (if it’s safe) or a dog or their car. Each month select a new winner to receive a free item or credit at your business. Make the challenges easy and fun. In the beginning, it’s better to have many winners with smaller prizes. As the contests catch on and your customers get hooked, you can up the stakes with fewer winners but bigger prizes.
Do Some Good in the World
For free advertisement, do some good in the world and call the local news station to tell them about it, or send the story with pictures to the local newspaper. Local news outlets love feel-good stories so be sure to let them know if your employees hold a food drive, collect bags of dog food for the local animal shelter or offer free services to those in need.
Not all advertising needs to be expensive. The best use of your advertising budget might just be to pay a Gen Z’er to create and run your online presence.