It is a common misconception that in order to execute an effective marketing strategy you need to invest a considerable amount of money. Whilst some marketing mediums such as television or radio commercials and print ads can certainly command hefty price tags, there is a multitude of simple and highly effective strategies that small business owners can implement for little to no cost.
The cemented presence of digital technology, internet and social media in our business and personal lives has opened up a raft of opportunities for businesses to engage with their wider community, and in a way that is targeted, relevant and cost-effective. And the best part is that you don’t have to be, or pay, a tech-genius to take advantage of it.
There are certainly more than 5 things that you can do to grow your small business without spending any money. But here is our list of just 5 to get you started.
- Expand your online presence
Make use of the tools available to help with getting your website in front of as many people as possible. You should ensure that your website is registered on a range of website and business directories. There are the big ones such as Google and Yahoo as well as more specific directories depending on the industries, business sectors or communities that are relevant to your business. It often requires nothing more than you taking action to register your website and complete a few key details about your business.
Create and regularly maintain a blog. A blog is often, but doesn’t have to be, attached to a website and is a place to provide your visitors with regular articles and content around topics that are relevant to your business. A blog is very useful for keeping the content of your website current and also providing readers some insight into the level of knowledge and expertise that you have in your particular field.
You should also consider participating in online forums and commenting on blogs that are relevant to your business. Be mindful to keep your comments relevant to the post that you are commenting on and not post blatant sales content. You want to use these mediums to increase awareness of yourself and your business in relevant communities.
- Get Active on Social Media
Signing up to the various social media platforms costs nothing but your time (or that of a duly appointed colleague or member of staff!) but the opportunities to seek out and connect with like-minded individuals or organisations is endless.
Social media provides the ability to engage with not only existing and potential customers, but also to connect with influential personalities, other business owners and industry or trade experts that you may not otherwise be able to access. Forging and leveraging these online relationships is something that every business can benefit from, no matter your size or sector. Outcomes you could expect include sharing knowledge, information, resources and expanded reach through increased connections.
Connecting on a “social” level can be as simple as sharing pictures and comments of the latest staff training day, or social outing. You might share an event that you are supporting in the local community, or a new project that you are working on. It is a great idea to show real examples of how you and your staff interact with the brand, and the products or services that you provide. The online community is much more likely to engage with your business in a positive way if they can see that you are real and honest and not shy of sharing your business personality.
- Engage Brand Ambassadors/Influencers
Use your online presence and social media identity to build relationships with influential online personalities or to appoint brand ambassadors for your business. The purpose of these connections is to have them mention your business or share your posts on a regular basis to their large number of avid followers. A series of regular posts by a small number of well selected individuals is preferable over lots of single posts by a wide range of people as it is said that multiple ongoing brand mentions are more likely to be trusted.
Think of what you can offer these people in return for their “influence” as it does not have to be an exchange of money for services. Maybe you can agree to send them free product, or if you are a service-based business, perhaps you could provide them a free service or consultation that would be of value to them.
- Make Use of Happy Customer Quotes
Don’t be afraid to ask happy customers for a quote about what they love about your business. It’s as simple as a quick phone call or email and you’ll be surprised at how willing your happy customers are to oblige (and getting some positive feedback in your day is never a bad thing either!).
Once you have these little packets of good news and positivity be sure to use them in all of your marketing material – from your website to customer information packs and social media. Use the quotes to demonstrate how people are interacting with your brand rather than just saying “here’s what people said about us”.
You can also make use of online review platforms such as Google review or similar websites to spread awareness of, and get feedback on, your business. You could offer incentives or small rewards to customers for sharing their positive experiences online.
- Build an Email List
Email marketing can be incredibly effective. A list of names and email addresses is an effective way to communicate directly with people who are interested in your product or service. It allows you to let your members know more about your business offerings, provide them with special offers and up-to-date information.
You can compile the list from customers, prospects and any other people that are interested in your business. Adding a sign-up form to your website makes it easy for people to register their interest to know more and hear from you on a regular basis.
There are many free services available that allow you to store and manage your lists as well as create and send out your communication, all in one place.
You only need to take action on one of these simple, and free, strategies to get the ball rolling. Once you experience the benefits of ‘free’ marketing we are confident that you will unlock a fresh new approach to marketing your business.
If you need some tips or advice on how to get started, contact Clarity Marketing on 1300 060 204 or submit an online enquiry.