As a small business competing against the big boys, you might think the only chance you have is to spend and spend big on a flashy and extensive ad campaign. Of course, as the big boys will tell you themselves, for every ad campaign that works well, they’ve had two that bombed, and your small business likely can’t afford to take that kind of gamble.
The fact is, it can be unwise to assume that what works for major corporations will work for your small businesses. As far as we’re concerned, ad campaigns are not the only or even the best way for a small business to get the word out. Rather, we suggest employing a variety of low-level, grassroots-style strategies.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of our best marketing tips for small businesses. Read on if you and your small business are looking for new and inventive ways to spread news of your products and services.
1. Get online with a weekly podcast. Weren’t expecting that. Well, we said we’d have some new and inventive ideas. So, why a podcast? Podcasts, if they offer compelling content, can create a big draw online, and since your podcast will feature a clear tie-in with your business, you’ll be automatically reaching new people with your new products and services. The trick, of course, is coming up with compelling content that offers a legitimate tie-in with your business. Own a sporting goods store? Offer a weekly sports podcast with an emphasis on the local high school sporting scene.
2. Create a weekly email. If you can get customers on an email list, your chances of making them repeat customers increases exponentially. How? First, the mere presence of an email in their inbox—even if they don’t open it—serves to remind them of your business and its services. That’s mindshare, and the more you stay in the minds of potential consumers, the better chance you have of them coming back. Second, if they do open the email—and you entice them a compelling subject line—the special deals, coupons, new products or services will provide further incentive to step through your doors again.
3. Free giveaways. There’s just something about free stuff. Even when someone doesn’t particularly want and need what you have to offer, tell them it’s free, and many of them will come. Once you have your products or service in their hands, you can rely on the quality of those things to be their own form of advertising. Obviously, that requires your business to offer quality services and products.
4. Expand your products or services. Even if your small business has a central product or service you offer, expanding in some small way will widen the nets you cast. People interested in this new product or service will then discover your central products and services and, with any luck, find them compelling. Consider Tipsy Elves, an online company originally specializing in novelty Christmas sweaters. When they expanded to include other themed lines of clothing—patriotic, for instance—sales of their ugly sweaters went up.
5. Network, network, network. Networking at this point is already so commonplace, that many events and venues exist in just about every town. So, take advantage of those events and venues, get out there, and press the flesh. Once you’ve made your name and your business’s name well known in these networking communities, consider putting together your own networking event. The connections you’ll make at these events will lead to various kinds of partnerships and opportunities to cross-advertise.
As a small business owner, you don’t have the budget to compete with the heavy hitters, not to mention it would be unwise to do so. Consider putting into place some of the above strategies. They’re tried and true for small businesses. We know you’ll see a difference.