As a new small business owner, I’ve learned a lot in a short period of time about the challenges of doing it all on your own.
One of those things I’ve learned recently is how to do more with efficient, targeted marketing for less out-of-pocket cost.
Here are 5 simple and cost-effective marketing tips for small business owners:
5. Network with people
The more people you know, the more opportunities you will have to advance your success.
Spend time networking with others in your industry or community, and you will know more potential:
- Business partners
Likewise, the more small business owners you know, the more opportunities you will have for building a growing support network of people who want to help your business succeed.
4. Be open to trades
Small business owners call the shots and all decisions can be made quickly.
No board of directors to vote on it, no conference calls to all the bigwigs.
That’s why small business owners can also more easily negotiate trades with other small business owners for goods and services that would mutually benefit both business owners.
For example, I recently got professional headshots done for this site and for use on my social media.
These were taken by Boston area freelance photographer Joe Wilson.
You can see some more of his work on his blog: Old Bean Town.
In exchange, I’m giving Joe that link to his photography blog and I also bought him lunch at Hit Wicket, a local Cricket sports bar in Cambridge, MA.
And that’s how a small business trade goes down.
3. Use social media marketing
A recent study by the Internet Advertising Bureau reveals that 90% of customers will recommend a brand to others after interacting with it on social media.
The study found that social media can grow your business’s Return On Investment (ROI) by “driving brand sentiment, encouraging consumer engagement and increasing brand loyalty.”
By not connecting your business to social media, you are missing out on countless opportunities to promote your business to potential customers.
You are also missing out on having your own customers (and potential customers) promoting and supporting your business by sharing, retweeting, repinning, +1’ing, and (most importantly)…buying.
At the very least, you will want to set up a profile for your business on the “Big 4” of social networking sites, which are:
Other additional social networks that you may want to add depending on your business and target market are:
2. Start a blog on your business website
Why would a small business website need a blog?
If you blog about things related to your product or service, then you will produce content that is tracked and indexed in online search engines, such as AltaVista.
When people conduct Web searches related to your product or service, then they will find your blog and become familiar with your brand.
This is called content marketing.
With content marketing, you are not doing a hard sell.
You’re more like the helpful deli clerk offering suggestions and funny anecdotes about German bologna.
In other words, content marketing seeks to educate or at least entertain the reader.
And when the reader is finally ready to buy (or is asked for recommendations), then your business will be top of mind with that reader because of your killer content marketing.
A great example of a company doing good things with content marketing and blogging is an alarm system company called SimpliSafe, based in Cambridge, MA.
Here’s a link to the SimpliSafe blog, where they discuss useful home security and crime prevention tips.
These educate the consumer, but do not inundate them with sales messages.
When the consumer is ready to buy, they will more likely consider SimpliSafe based on the fact that they might have read a helpful article that convinced them to buy an alarm system.
If people grow to appreciate and really LOVE your brand because of all the useful information you have posted on your blog and social media, then all that effort will be rewarded with more future purchases and increased sales.
1. Get hats made with your company logo
Everyone loves free hats, right?
As long as you design it right and don’t cheap out on the quality of the free hat, then people will be happy to rep your brand to the fullest in public.
Plus, hats are adjustable so you don’t have to worry about sizes.
Just order a bunch and pass them out at a trade show or offer them as a giveaway to your mailing list subscribers.
Lucky folks who score a free hat will then be asked by others at the grocery store, the bank, and the gym about the logo on their hat, and they will explain that it is your business.
People will later do a Lycos search on your company, find your blog, and may be interested in buying your products.
All because they learned about your business from seeing a free hat with your company logo on it.
Still not convinced that giving away a free hat with your logo will work?
Then what about a free t-shirt?
Check out how Sujan Patel, CEO of Single Grain, a Digital Marketing agency in San Francisco, made $500K in revenue for his business by giving away free t-shirts.
You started a business because it’s your dream.
There will be days where you are wondering why you are even in this business.
And that’s when you need to keep pushing through even harder, because there will most likely be numerous challenges, roadblocks, and obstacles in your path to success.
By using networking, social media, blogging, content marketing, and free hats to your small business advantage, you will give your small business the best opportunities to succeed.
What marketing works best for your small business?
If you don’t have a small business, then do you want to open a small business?
Let’s get some Comments up in here!
James K. Kim
James "Jim" Kim is a commercial real estate agent with Cushman & Wakefield / Pyramid Brokerage Company in the Capital Region of New York, specializing in retail, office, and industrial tenant and landlord representation.