Small-business owners are well aware of the highs and lows of owning and running their own business. They all know and remember that initial high of forming the business idea in their head, planning everything out and fully committing to the idea.
They also know the lows of struggling to find a loan, figuring out a budget and every little problem that can arise.
A big hurdle for many business owners is how to go about marketing your business. You may be a wizard when it comes to accounting or sales, but you’re not sure how to go about getting the word out. Unfortunately, you simply can’t just place a “We’re Open” sign on the front door and expect people to come streaming in by the thousands (but that would be nice).
Additionally, you want to market effectively but you don’t want your dollars to be empty calories. So, what can you do to save money while reaching out to people?
Be a Walking Billboard
Although there are some people out there who have literally turned themselves into walking billboards, you’d rather spread the news about your business through word of mouth.
That means attending as many networking events, conventions and trade shows as possible. Be willing to shake every hand and talk about your business.
A small word of advice though: don’t make everything about business. A big part of business is relationship-building and you don’t want to be the person who only talks about business when you could be getting to know someone better.
It’s good to be confident and self-driven, but there’s always that fine line between normal and going too far.
The Power of Local Media
While staying away from traditional forms of advertising may be your goal, you can always reach out to local media publications and see if they will do a story on your new business.
Local news outlets are always looking for stories and a new small business is always an effective way to get your name and face in front of readers and listeners. As a bonus, you’ll get to talk about yourself and feel like a true star.
Perhaps one of the most important ways to promote your business is through social media. It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have an Instagram, Facebook or Twitter account these days. People are constantly scrolling through their feeds, using these platforms to communicate with friends, share moments and read about the news.
That’s why you need to make sure your business has social media pages. Creating a page is easy while promoting it is much cheaper than traditional advertising methods.
Be sure and push out regular, good content about your business. It could be something simple as a new store location, a blog, updates on products, sales announcements, etc.
Many businesses out there are competing with each other, but there are plenty of businesses that can function together perfectly in a symbiotic relationship.
Check out businesses in your area and talk about exchanging literature. It could be something as simple as a smoothie shop and a movie theater. Bring your ticket stub to the smoothie shop and receive a small smoothie for free.
Specials and Promotions
While the world is still divided over whether a hot dog is a sandwich or not, people are still united under one idea: free stuff is awesome!
Running promotions and specials is a great way to attract people to your business. You could hand out special items at conventions, have a 2-for-1 special running or simply offer a free service.
For example, if you own a car shop you could offer a free transmission inspection for first-time customers. Once they’re in the door, they could see the rest of your potential services. Remember, your promotions and specials want to be “teasers” for the whole product. No one ever wants to see a movie trailer and feel like they know what the whole movie is about.
Despite all the marketing techniques that have existed for years, the best way to market your business is simply through word of mouth. People are always going to trust and put more value in what their friends or family say.
Why not take advantage of that? Set up a customer referral program where people can bring one friend in and receive some kind of bonus or promotional offer. It’s a perfect way for you to market to existing customers while bringing in new customers simultaneously.