Marketing your business effectively is of major importance, so you need to set a marketing plan. Your marketing will not only tell the potential customer what you offer, but shape how your brand is perceived by them. Without effective marketing, you won’t have customers or a business.
However, marketing can get pretty expensive. So before you plan the grandiose TV advert, or nationwide billboards, you need to add up the figures and stay within a budget. As a start-up/small/medium business you need to be creative, and find free or cost effective ways to reach your potential customers.
Your marketing plan should encompass everything from your brand and your unique selling points, through to your story: stick to your values and ideas, and you can’t really go too wrong. Everything from your shop window to your website’s About Us page can help communicate who you are and tell your story.
You've got to make every penny count. Without further ado, let's take a look at some ways you may be able to market your business on a tight budget:
Do you have a website already? If the answer is no, then we urge you to press on and create a professional beautiful website NOW. It is vital to have a website, because it is your virtual shop window, where potential customers can check 24/7 and learn about your business. Without a website, you really don’t exist in the online world and miss great opportunities. Think about the purpose of your website: to inform, to sell a product online, or mainly blogging?
If you do have a website already, make sure you optimise your website for the search engines and have relevant keywords throughout your website. It can be expensive to hire a professional agency to do it for you, so you can learn a lot by researching online. Make sure the content on your website is well written, no grammatical errors, and do try to break the content into manageable chunks for the reader.
Many websites have blogging facilities, and we recommend that you update your blog regularly with relevant content, which can either inform your customers, make them laugh or teach them something useful. Well written, interesting blogs can keep people on your site for a long while, tells them more about your business and brand. Don’t just write blogs about you though, remember that you are writing for your customers and potential customers, so think of what they wish to read and then write it! Images can also convey more than hundreds of words, so don’t forget to add images to your blog where relevant. We recommend a call to action at the end of each blog, just so if a customer wants to contact you, make it easy for them to do so, include your email, an online form or telephone number.
Your own email signature
An often overlooked marketing tool is your own email signature. Look at your email signature and ensure all your relevant contact details are included, do you have website with link, your company logo or strapline as well? Include all, and present it beautifully so when you are emailing your customers, your brand is shining through each message!
Do you already have a loyal customer base? If you do, do ask customers if they will write a testimonial for your website, or have a section in your shop or on your website for case studies: describe how you helped your customer or client, and how pleased they were with the result. You could even offer new products or services to your loyal customers for them to test and give you feedback. Keeping a loyal customer happy and returning is much more cost effective than constantly trying to find new ones.
And what does loyal customers do? They recommend you to other people. Ask your customers if they are happy with your product or service to tell their friends about it, but if they have an unhappy experience to tell you and you can fix it straight away.
Social media is a small business owner’s dream: it’s free, can elevate your brand to worldwide visibility, can engage directly with customers faster. So get active on social media now, but again, do plan your posts carefully. Here are some questions you can ask yourself before you post:
1. Is this of interest to my customers?
2. What’s in it for my customers?
3. Will this make my customers identify or care about my business?
Some companies only post information about themselves, you know what I mean, the usual blah blah about how great they are. Of course, if your company has just won a major award, please do post about it with images as well. But constant posts just about how great your business is, just bores people. They want to read and find out something of interest to them.
Also, don’t think that you have to be on absolutely every social media platforms. Pick the most relevant platforms where your potential customers will be lurking, and focus your attention there. Trying to post constantly on 10 different platforms is really, really hard, so focus on a few and do it well and consistently.
There are many online communities out there, and engaging with forums and message-boards can really pay off… but you need to be careful. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of online communities that you can tap into – but if you’re too pushy, and god forbid post spam, it can easily backfire.
Best thing is to choose the most relevant communities where your potential customers group, post and participate consistently where relevant. Think of raising your company profile through discussion, advice and set yourself as an authority in the field. Don’t just post unwanted adverts about yourself without any meaningful participation. It’s a waste of time, effort and reflects badly on your company.
Offering giveaways on your site or via your social media accounts could send a lot more traffic your way, from both existing customers and potential customers. You don’t need to give away anything big or expensive: usually when prizes are small, people think they’ve got a better chance of winning.
Don’t forget sending out regular newsletters. This will keep existing customers involved in your business, as well as maybe even attracting new ones – that is, if you’ve interesting content to share. Add a subscribe box on your website, so people who like what you do can subscribe and at some point, they may even buy your product or service! Again, just like social media, don’t write useless newsletters just about your company, write something of interest to your customers. Think of competitions, new information or updates, humour….
You don’t need to be a PR guru or journalist to write a great press release. Every time you release something new, change something of note, or do something great, try putting together a press release and sending it to relevant websites, magazines, and newspapers, as well as your local press. There are also online press websites, so your press release can also be visible on search engines (and are they not the largest online publishers of all?).
Face to face networking
With all the focus on online marketing, you may think we don’t like face to face networking, well you are wrong. People still buy from people as well, so try to physically go out to many networking groups and talk to people, you know, shake hands, listen and then also talk. You may even swap business cards. Don’t forget to print beautiful business cards which includes your company details including website, contact telephone.
If you have the resources at your finger tips, try setting up webinars, podcasts and YouTube videos. With all the latest technology allowing you to take a decent video footage, there are also plenty of free online editing programs you can use to freshen it up. If you can offer people exciting and different content for free, they’ll be more likely to want to use your services.
Good luck with your shoestring marketing! If you need any help, give us a call. Our team at Kudos PA offers virtual assistance in secretarial services, administration, marketing, blogging, research and so much more. We love business, and want to support you to be an entrepreneur! Give us a call if you need any help or just want to chat on 07875108255.
Do you have any other marketing tips to share? We'd love to hear them! Tweet us using the #KudosPAStartupKit hashtag and share your tips with us.
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