If you own a small business, you’ll know how hard it can be to market on a budget. Luckily, you don’t need a team of experts to expand your reach; just some creativity and a little hard work. Check out our top low-cost tips below.
1. Google yourself
Other search engines do exist, but the majority of internet users turn to Google for more information, including about small businesses. Google even provides a host of free tools for companies to ensure that customers get up-to-date information.
Most important of these is the Google Business Profile, which means that your company will show up in Google Maps, local search results, and the Knowledge Panel when someone enters your business name. Once verified, you can list opening hours, contact information, and website and social media links.
2. Encourage loyalty
Getting a new customer costs way more than retaining existing ones, but without some sort of incentive, patrons can easily switch. Reward them for their loyalty with discounts on future orders, points earned on every purchase, or even a stamp card where they can work their way up to a free coffee, meal, or session.
Additionally, loyalty card signups provide their email addresses, which can be used to market to them. This is fantastic because email marketing campaigns can get a 3,800% return on investment.
3. Have some branded promotional products
These are great for helping to boost brand recognition. Depending on what products and/or services you provide, you might choose pens, t-shirts, or even laptop bags as your promotional goods of choice. (More details here.) You can either give them away or sell them to encourage repeat custom. Think of a carwash offering a discount to every vehicle with their bumper sticker or a coffee shop giving a free topping to people with their reusable coffee mugs.
4. Interact with potential customers outside of your business
It’s important, as a small business, to network. This might be through local business groups, trade shows, markets, charity events, or anywhere else that your potential customers might be. It will show that you are interested and involved in the local community, so be prepared to hand out business cards and promote your attendance on social media.
On a related note, consumer research shows that more and more people want to shop with brands that stand up for what they believe in. So, it might in certain circumstances be appropriate for your company to attend a protest that aligns with your values, much like Lush Cosmetics did at the September 2019 Global Climate Strike. It’s often inappropriate to sell anything, but promoting your presence is okay.
5. Host a contest
These are fun, cheap, and can get many potential (and existing) customers involved. The key is to offer something that people want that won’t break the bank, like a free massage from your spa or a year’s worth of books from your store.
You could take your spin at a traditional contest (How many coffee beans are in this jar?”), have people post pictures of themselves using your products, or even get them to like and share a certain post on your social media account.
It’s not that hard to get a great marketing campaign going. All it takes is a little effort and some flair.