Most companies don’t have the marketing budgets of Microsoft or Apple.
But you don’t need a multi-million—or even a multi-hundred-dollar budget—to effectively market your small business.
These days with the growing success of inbound marketing strategies, any size business can attract customers in spite of a meager marketing budget.
It just takes a little creativity, hard work, and patience.
Here are four easy and affordable tips you can implement today to get the word out about your small business:
#1 Get a Web Presence
OK—this is priority numero uno. It should be pretty obvious that if you don’t have a web presence in this day and age you‘ll likely be going nowhere fast.
A study by GE Capital Retail Bank found that over 80% of customers research online before making a major purchase. You’d hate to be left out of the running because your potential customers can’t find you online.
If you have a website, potential customers can research your products and services at any time. Your website is your virtual business card and is always out there hustling for you 24hours a day, seven days a week.
Many companies spend thousands of dollars on their websites, but don’t let that discourage you. Your website doesn’t need to be perfect before you get it up and running. In fact, all good sites are constantly evolving. The key is to make it look professional and provide your visitors with the information they need.
If you have a small budget, you can piece together your site fairly easily by using one of the many free WordPress themes. Now— we’re not talking about putting together a huge, complicated eCommerce shop, but you’ll at least have a presence where people can get to know who you are and what you offer.
Another option is to try your local community college to see if someone is looking to add to their portfolio and is willing to make a site for you on the cheap. And of course, once you have a larger budget, you can hire a web developer to put together a fully-optimized, beautiful site for you.
But don’t delay. Even a basic site will help promote your brand and keep you from losing out on potential sales.
You can further augment your web presence with a blog and social media accounts.
#2 Customer Referral Program
There’s no doubt that customer referrals can pump up your business, and often they don’t need to cost you a dime.
Just check out these stats:
- 65% of new business comes from referrals (New York Times)
- 49% of U.S. consumers say friends and family are their top sources of brand awareness (Jack Morton Worldwide)
- A referred customer has a 16% higher life-time value. (The Wharton School of Business)
Obviously you need to give your customers a reason to recommend you. So do what you do best. Provide excellent customer service at all times and to everyone. And if you happen to make a mistake, own up to it. And try to make it right.
But even stellar customer service may not be enough to get that referral. Often people need a little prodding to give you a referral. A study by Texas Tech found that “83% of satisfied customers are willing to refer products and services. But only 29% actually do.”
Don’t be afraid to ask for that referral. There are many options you can experiment with—whether it’s giving a referral card to each customer, or leveraging social media to have your customers spread the word. You can even implement a more complicated referral program, using a service such as ReferralCandy.
You can also offer small incentives to your customers to get them to refer their friends.
#3 Offer a Free Trial or Sample
This simple tactic has been around forever and for good reason. Take some your customer’s risk out of trying your product or service, by offering a small part of it for free.
If you’re looking to market your hand-squeezed lemonade, infused with fresh organic mint, try offering samples to boutique grocery stores, or give away your product at your local farmer’s market.
It’ll get people thinking about your product and hopefully clamoring to buy more.
#4 Guest Posting
Sure, having your own blog should be an essential part of your marketing strategy. But it can be discouraging if no one is reading it.
So, why not make use of someone else’s bigger and more popular blog, until you can get yours going?
This is where guest posting comes in.
Remember this is not an excuse to neglect your blog, but rather a way to build your brand, and get links back to your blog, website or social media profiles.
As with all of your blog posts, make sure you’re providing valuable, well-written content. Look to guest blog for reputable sites in your niche. You’ll reach a wider more relevant audience.
Try to get on high authority sites for your industry. They won’t accept any old post, so you’ll have to put some work into researching and polishing your post. You may even need to pitch the blog with your idea first.
Wrapping it Up
You can’t afford not to market –no matter how small your business. There are many affordable options. So, no excuses. Get busy building a platform to grow your business today and you can add to it as your resources increase.