Small Business Owners: Low Cost Marketing Strategies to Increase Profits
Have you ever wondered if you could think of a marketing idea that can propel your business to sky. Like, Wendy’s commercial in the 1980’s ‘Where’s the beef’, Coke ad about it being the ‘The Real Thing’ and Nike selling tennis shoes by spreading the word of ‘Just Do It’. How ingenuous of those companies.
When people think of marketing they tend to think of advertising which can be expensive, ineffective image-based advertising. There are many ways to position yourself as an expert and build a personal connection to attract new clients, customers and patients.
Effective marketing is not cheap; however, there are strategies you can implement for little or no cost.
A basic low-cost way to do market research is to get a poster and put a picture of your ideal customer on, then list your prospective customer fears & frustrations, then list your customer’s wants and aspirations. Then focus on the emotional event that caused it and the irrational dream behind it, this is where the power and leverage is to resolve the customer problem with your product.
Develop a customer persona profile identifying where the customer get there information like magazines, websites and key people they follow blogging. Find out what ‘watering holes/bars’ they frequent, neighborhood live in, university attended, hobbies, favorite tv shows watched, associations, and church they attend. Use websites and question your target audience to gather this information.
Ideally, a small business owner should spend around 35 – 50% of their time marketing their product. To avoid giving marketing of your products the short shrift. Draft a schedule of marketing outreach events for 6 – 12 months. Identify marketing opportunities, what methods you will use and when you will take action. With a schedule drafted in advance, opportunities will not sneak up on you while you’re busy paying attention to other aspects of your business.
If you have a marketing department to support your business make sure it looks like the customers you are serving. The power of hiring people from many different cultures, products and industries to come together and create products for your consumers is powerful. The depth of ideas, understandings, insights, creativity and the blending of cultures can bring out the best solutions for your business to make more money is awesome.
Below is a list of 10 low cost strategies that can help you improve your profits.
1- Join your areas Chamber of Commerce and participate in community service events. Get involved in your community by volunteering, donating to and/or sponsor local events. It gives you the opportunity to network with other business owners and maybe cross promote with other local. These monthly meetings let you know what going on economically in your area.
2- Social Media: the ability to provide information about your products all over the web.
Share what you do and what merchants you love. Completed a new project, offering a new product, and have a customer testimonial.
Offer tips, advice, and information on your website. Show customers how to repair, modify, or improve your products. Provide product usage tips. The more customers enjoy your products, the more likely they are to buy. If you sell services, a question-answer column is a valuable addition to websites, as are “Frequently Asked Questions” pages addressing simple subjects related to your services. A bit of free advice will encourage clients to come to you with thornier problems
Write about it on Twitter, website, Facebook, LinkedIn or on a industry blog. Photos and videos helps others to understand who you are, what you do and how it can help them solve a problem.
Include your website link on all company emails and other correspondence. Display your company or business web address prominently in your email signature. Do the same on stationery.
3- Tell your story in 90 seconds.
a. Develop an elevator pitch story to inform others about your business. Your story should contain the following elements.
Who you are
What you do
Why your different from your competitors
Why should they care about your products or service (what’s in it for them)
Does your message create an emotional response from your target audience demographics. Hint, use plain English in creating your message
Example: We help to make your life easier by (explain your product or service).
Use customer testimonials to persuade your customers to purchase from you. Ask for them from satisfied customers and use them, make sure they are genuine and go into a little detail with real names.
4- Develop a simple marketing plan for your business
There are (4) secrets to marketing commitment, investment, communicate, consistency. It’s difficult to maintain all (4) four without some basic plan.
Make sure your plan describes how well the product or service meet the customers need or problem?
Make sure your logo and marketing message use words that paint a picture of an experience using your product that creates an imagination in the customer that generate a profit (that makes them want to buy your product or service).
It could consist of ordering business cards, attending networking opportunities, book speaking engagements and submit press releases about your product offerings.
Create an email signature, with web links to your business website and Twitter link. Also, include your company name, most current achievement, telephone number and email address and tag line if your company has one.
5- Put together a list of previous customers and send them new information and promotional offers to reactivate some of them.
Reward loyal customers with discounts. It will keep them coming back and help generate referrals. Good referrals from satisfied customers is often more effective than expensive advertising.
Use social media, to offer SMS marketing (texting) to provide existing customers with new information about ‘must have’ discounted or liquidating items.
Improve Customer Service
Customer Service is a form of advertising. You’re advertising that you care, that gets noticed
Use your vehicle
Vehicle Graphics are seen by thousands of people each day. Turn your vehicle into a mobile billboard.
6- Offer free public seminars or workshops to general public to come and find out how you can solve a problem for them and show them how approachable and helpful you are.
Rule of Thumb:
Your target customers need to hear your marketing messages at least 7 times to influence buying decisions. Example, you can craft your message a public service radio announcement to get it played for free on the radio stations and small internet radio stations
Get a Piggy Back
Hitching a ride on the marketing of another company can save your small business time and money.
Example: Locating near a Wal-Mart to be near price conscious consumers on a low budget.
7- Stimulate Customer Senses
Talk to your customers about how they feel about your product and store experience, why they buy from you versus other stores, they will be honest with you.
Continually educate your customers about the benefits of buying your products from you.
The more comfortable we keep our customers, the longer they’ll stay, the more memorable experience they’ll have and the more they’ll spend or pass on positive word-of-mouth.
Do you think the smell of fresh baking bread flowing throughout the grocery store or music is playing by choice? (duh)
Retail businesses have been going out of their way for years to stimulate shoppers and keep them browsing scented bathroom spray works better than disinfectant.
8- Make Yourself Newsworthy
Get a mention of your company in the right media
For doing a good deed in the community or a humorous tie-in with a sports event
Develop a relationship with your industry trade publications (magazines) they are always looking for ‘free relevant content’, write and article for them. It can help you to appear as an ‘expert’ to others in your industry.
Make contacts with local media. Newspaper and television reporters need reputable sources for articles; while you may not make “news,” you can provide color to a story. For example, if you are a lawyer, you may be able to explain how new legislation will affect local viewers. Get in as many reporter’s contact lists as possible.
9- Form a joint venture
Forging an alliance with a group of small companies or big company, give you ‘biggest bang for the buck’. Lowering your costs to enter new markets and create new distribution opportunities.
Make offers to other businesses that serve people in your target markets to pay them for referrals or sharing their list with you
Donating your products or services to select charitable events is a great way to get your name out into the community. Be sure your target market will be attending and that your brand will be well represented.
10- Under Your Nose
Are your vendors doing business with you? No, call them and everyone you do business with. If your product is not a current match to there needs, he or she probably knows someone who should be doing business with you. At minimum, ask to display your business cards and flyers at their office. Oops, I forgot, take a moment and make sure people in your immediate personal circle understand what you are selling.
Get out and walk
1. Look for underutilized store front windows in high foot traffic areas. Approach the owner and offer to pay a small fee to advertise your business in their window or reverse it, and do the some for a fellow business owner.
2. Scan your friends social media sites Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Ask them to send out a advertisement on the friends page about your business. Ask a friend if you can place an ad on his business website.
3. Put flyers, catalogs, or brochures in every order. Make it easy for customers to buy from you. Don’t assume a particular customer knows all the services you provide.
It can take a lifetime to build a business reputation, but 20 seconds to tear it down with the wrong message in your marketing campaign or an employee doing that reflects badly on your business. You, small business owner are the ‘gatekeeper’ of the image of the company you are trying to build. Monitor all communications that is released to the press about your business, you and someone else review all media coverage and commercials about your business image, to make sure it is consistent with what your business is all about. Most importantly, be honest in all communications, dishonesty can boomerang on you in a nightmarish way.
Finally, marketing is about making the customer aware of your product and building a trusting relationship with the customer, and hopefully grow with the customer needs, as they expand.
Easy profits in your pocket!