Let’s face it, you are a small business and every penny counts. You may not have the budget dollars for traditional marketing efforts like TV commercials and print ads. It’s time to think about complementing your marketing campaigns with simple and less expensive promotional techniques.
One of the most effective marketing tools is a website. Web marketing is relatively inexpensive, and more and more customers turn to the Internet to find products and services, even in their hometowns. If you don’t have a website, make that your first step.
Here are a few additional low-cost tips and simple strategies to get your marketing efforts working for you on a budget:
- Include your website link on all company emails and other correspondence. Display your company or business web address prominently in your email signature. Do the same on stationery.
- Offer tips, advice, and information on your website. Show customers how to repair, modify, or improve your products. Provide product usage tips. The more customers enjoy your products, the more likely they are to buy. If you sell services, a question-answer column is a valuable addition to websites, as are “Frequently Asked Questions” pages addressing simple subjects related to your services. A bit of free advice will encourage clients to come to you with thornier problems.
- Use targeted pay-per-click advertising. If you provide local services, include your vicinity in your keywords. “Plumber” is much too broad; “plumbing repair Anywhere City, VT” is much more precise. You’ll keep costs down, and the customers you want will find you.
- Put flyers, catalogs, or brochures in every order. Make it easy for customers to buy from you. Don’t assume a particular customer knows all the services you provide.
- Run contests or promotions to get their attention. Giving away an item during a contest is fine, but make sure the publicity value offsets the cost. Donating an item to a silent auction may not gain much public awareness; donating a product or service for a local radio station to offer in a contest will.
- Make contacts with local media. Newspaper and television reporters need reputable sources for articles; while you may not make “news,” you can provide color to a story. For example, if you are a lawyer, you may be able to explain how new legislation will affect local viewers. Get in as many reporter’s contact lists as possible.
- Create customer loyalty. Acquiring a new customer typically costs five to seven times more than keeping an existing customer. Set up frequent -purchase discount programs, or loyalty programs that reward customers who purchase on a regular basis. The price discount could be more than offset by the relatively lower cost of sale.
- Partner with complementary businesses. Offer bundled products or services in related fields. Be creative. For example, if you are a web designer, you might consider partnering with a consulting or marketing firm to offer a package of design and marketing services to your business clients. Think “one stop” shopping.
- Create eye-catching guarantees. If competitors offer six-month guarantees, expand yours to a year. If you don’t normally provide a guarantee, think of creative ways to safeguard products or purchases to help new customers overcome any hesitation of doing business with you.
- Pick up the phone. Call current customers. Ask how they’re doing. Ask what you can do better. Ask if there are ways you can make their lives easier, (i.e., invoicing methods, delivery methods, customer service, etc.).
- Network with customers. Instead of joining trade or industry groups in your industry, go to where your customers are. If you are a lawyer, consider being active in your local bar association, but also be active in civic or business organizations where potential customers can see, meet, and learn about you and your services.