When it comes to operating a business, you’ve got enough costs to worry about before you consider marketing costs.
However, while there are companies that spend millions on marketing you can have success without breaking the bank.
Some of the basic rules to follow for a successful business marketing campaign are to continuously go over your plan, get in the good graces of your community, use the internet to your advantage, and don’t be afraid to go old-school with word of mouth.
What’s your marketing plan?
If you’re starting a new business venture, one of the first things you should do is sit down and create a marketing plan.
Even if you’ve had a business for a while, it can still be smart to re-evaluate your marketing options because the world is constantly changing.
Every day new technologies are coming out, new media platforms available, and new statistics about society’s interests. That’s why it’s so important to constantly research and utilize new marketing techniques because otherwise, your business will fall behind.
For example, psychological studies are done all the time that convey different results.
Red and yellow are colors that send subliminal mental signals, which is why some food chains use them to great success. Always look for ways to market your business better.
Build on your community
Every small business needs to understand the benefit of their local community.
There are many ways to market your business in the local area for little to no money, and it all starts with earning their goodwill.
Canvas the area
Aside from the cost of printing flyers or brochures, canvassing is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to not only spread word of mouth but introduce your business to the community.
There are two ways to do this, of course, and one is much more effective.
- Some businesses use the door-to-door approach, which requires more manpower and can irritate people.
- The more successful option is to either hire people or use your staff and hand them out in highly-populated areas with a lot of foot traffic. Busy intersections, parks, malls, or lobbies are a good start for possible locations.
Another method of getting the word out to your local area is to write a press release.
Local news stations and newspapers are a great and inexpensive way to let people know about your business, from the location to any events you have coming up.
Look at the press releases of successful companies as a reference, because those will usually give you an idea of how to phrase it and accomplish your goal.
Networking is one of the best ways to get your local community involved and excited about your business. The great thing about local areas is that there’s almost always something going on, which means there’s always an opportunity to get your business noticed.
Whether it’s a holiday celebration, a carnival, or a drive-in special at the local grocery store, every event presents an opening for your business to either take part in or be at to spread word of mouth. Talk is free, so make sure to wear a smile.
Another great way to involve the community or boost interest is to create an event with another business that’s similar to your own. Their customers will learn about your business and it will likely get some press attention, which is always helpful.
These sorts of joint ventures can be anything from a cook-off or chili contest if you’re in the food business to a contest to see who can sell more of a product in the sales industry. You could even organize a charity event, like a 5k run to support a good cause.
Whatever you choose, it’s best to base the event on your particular business and get the word out. Most communities love to show up to support their local businesses, especially when you allow them to get involved.
The online era
In the modern world, businesses have more options than ever to get the word out and it’s usually free or inexpensive. You can use social media to your advantage, send out an email newsletter for return customers, or create a blog.
The Internet has steadily gained interest since its inception and the public has flocked to social media.
Any successful marketing plan takes full use of social media, like creating a Facebook page. This allows customers to interact or ask questions about your business, leave reviews, and share events.
Pinterest is a great site to share photographs or media posts about your business and social media sites like Twitter are good for keeping the community up-to-date with what’s new or going on. Just remember that interaction is key.
While not technically a social media site, LinkedIn is a fantastic way of keeping track of all of your media. It’s also good for communicating with other businesses like yours, sharing tips and product information.
An email newsletter is a fun way to connect with your community. Customers can sign up and add their email address to your list for community updates, potential sales, or even coupons.
Even if you mail out coupons, email newsletters can also help you keep track of customer numbers and demographics. You can then use this information to adjust your marketing or products.
An email newsletter is also a useful opportunity to spread contact information or your business logo. One of the most under-utilized marketing methods is the space at the bottom of your emails, so you might as well use it.
Create a blog or website
Blogs are perfect for sharing news, reviews, or event information and they’ve quickly become one of the most accessible means of conveying those things to customers. There are dozens of niches and types of blogs, from food blogs to product review blogs.
Youtube has also joined in on free methods to publicize your business through vlogs or fun content. Do some research to see what kind of content businesses like yours are using to advertising, from straight-forward information to comedic skits.
If you’re not sure how to do things or just aren’t very tech-savvy, you can always hire a blogger or submit products to a blog to be reviewed. This is a more passive approach, but it can still send customers and traffic your way.
Word of mouth
Despite the technological advancements that have been made in the modern world, one of the most effective and cheapest ways to market your business is through word of mouth. You tell one person, they pass it on to their friends, and before long you’ve got a line out the door.
Most of the marketing options on this list are free, but this might be the most “expensive” one on here. While still a cheap way to spread word of your business, renting a billboard can cost a few hundred dollars depending on the location and how long you rent it for.
However, a billboard is a proven way to broadcast your business to mass amounts of people whether they realize it or not. A lot of times, drivers see a billboard and don’t think much of it but it resides in their mind for later.
Large companies spend hundreds of thousands or millions on marketing but mailed brochures and coupons are a great way to bring in business and let your community know what you have available.
Do some research to find out which type of brochure is best for your business. Some have a simple message while others are leaflets full of product information, but using the mailing system is a cheap and easy way to market to your area.
Another simple way to do this is with business cards. You can easily print a few hundred business cards for little cost and use them in multiple ways. You can hand them out when canvassing, as mentioned above, or send them in the mail.
You can also set them at the front of your business and offer for customers to take one, which is made even more effective if you give some form of discount or coupon printed on the back.
Other businesses sometimes have tables or place cards near their front to support small or local businesses, so be sure to take full advantage of that. Free and passive advertising is invaluable for marketing.
One last option is similar to canvassing, but pinning brochures or business cards to vehicles in a parking lot can be a good way to market your business. While it may annoy some drivers, the vast majority will hold onto it and check out your business.
Who doesn’t love free stuff?
Giving out free things or creating the illusion of free things is one of the best marketing strategies available to a business. This is most effectively done in one of two ways: Incentives or add-ons.
The idea of a sale will subconsciously make people more likely to buy something, so add-ons can be anything from a discount like “Buy one, get one 50 percent off” to another of the same item with the “Buy one, get one free.”
One of the most important things you can do as a business is to bring back returning customers, and incentive programs are a great way to make that happen. This is especially prevalent in the food industry, with every visit offering a discount or free meal.
Incentive programs can work in any business venture, though, and can be essential in a marketing plan. Not only will it increase sales and repeat customers, but those customers may spread the word of your program to their friends and neighbors.
Whatever you choose to incorporate into your business strategy, it’s always a good idea to constantly go back to your marketing plan or create one before starting a business.
Whether you focus on involving the community more, spreading your business over the Internet, or using the tried-and-true method of word of mouth, there are plenty of options available to expand your marketing approach and avoid the common introductory business mistakes.