The most challenging part of running a small business (besides qualifying for a small business loan) is promoting it. The process can be overwhelming, especially when you’re a fairly new business with a small budget. But don’t worry! There are countless ways to promote your small business. And it doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars.
Here are 26 affordable marketing strategies that will help you get exposure and find new customers. All without spending a ton!
1 – Create a website. Having a website is very important for marketing your business. Based on what you sell or the service you provide, your website acts as a lead generation tool and information source for your customers. It doesn’t matter what’s on the website; as long as it presents the who, what, where, and why of your business. Hiring someone to do a custom-design website for you is pricey. You can create one using SquareSpace or Wix. They have pre-made templates and tools to choose from, which will make it super easy to create a basic website.
2 – Create a blog and post amazing content. Having a blog informs your prospects and customers about your product/service and also improves your chances of being found in search engines (like Google or Bing). Don’t feel compelled to hire someone to write for you. You can do it yourself! Just create content that your customers will find valuable at different stages of the purchasing cycle.
3 – Use SEO on your website. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is basically the activity that tries to improve your website’s search ranking. When you set up your web pages with SEO, it allows the search engines to understand the content and link to you when someone searches for what you sell or provide. Most companies spend a lot on SEO but don’t worry. There are many ways to improve the SEO of your website. You can use keywords or phrases that people search for in the page title. You can use a different title for each web page. You can also include your business name, location and phone number on all your web pages.
4 – Create a Google My Business Account. You want your business to show up in local web searches. The best way to achieve this is to create an account on Google My Business. This will not only make sure your business visible search but on Google maps and Google+ as well.
5 – Create social media pages for your business. Set up your business on all social media platforms — Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest. Make sure your business profile has a good description, keywords and a link to your website. Then join groups or conversations that have a discussion about your product or service and get involved in providing them with useful tips and information.
6 – Develop a social media plan. Create a plan on how to go about connecting with your customers, and how you can persuade them to take action. Post relevant images, captions and hashtags to reach your prospects. You can provide them with tips to improve their business or life, or special offers that will get you lots of likes, clicks, and shares.
7 – Build an email list. Every business should have an email list! Many email management services charge a monthly fee. But if you are just starting out and have a smaller list, you can take advantage of free options. For instance, if you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers, MailChimp offers its service for free.
8 – Create an email newsletter. This is the best way to keep your name in front of your target market at all times (and not let them forget about you!) It shows that you are passing on useful information to help them succeed in life and business. Your newsletter should be timely. Some of its content can include testimonials, profiles of your clients or staff, book reviews, upcoming events, useful tips, and advice, or something as fun as a crossword or puzzles.
9 – Be a guest contributor on your industry blog. This is also known as guest posting. It’s a great way to reach a new audience by contributing to a blog post on a website other than your own that is related to your small business industry. Keep in mind to include a link back to your site either within the blog content or in your bio.
10 – Attend local networking events/ groups. Want to make quick contacts and get known in your local community? Become a member of a local networking group and attend as much as you can. Check out Meetup.com for local small business events, and see which association is hosting.
11 – Interact with clients on blogs and social media. Follow a few blogs that are in your niche and leave thoughtful comments on them. This is the best strategy to not only get noticed by the blog owners and build a relationship but also with the blog visitors. You should also be continuously involved with your social media followers by either following them back or responding to their comments and questions. Interaction is key!
12 – Create a Yelp listing. If you are running a small local business, you should add it to Yelp or YellowPages. This is the best way to increase your visibility in search engines and allow prospects to easily find your business.
13 – Ask customers to review your product/ service. Most people make purchasing decisions based on the product or services respective reviews. They want to be assured that they’re making a good choice. To gain their assurance and increase the chances of your customers leaving a positive review, send them a thank you note and ask them to review your product/service online. Send them a link to a place you want them to post their review. It can be Yelp!
14 – Create and update your marketing plan. Creating a small business marketing plan is essential because it clearly states your objectives and what you are trying to achieve. It keeps you on course throughout the months and years of your business operation. You can use this template to create your business marketing plan and update it every now and then to stay on top of your goals.
15 – Offer a free info-product on your website. Create an ebook, whitepaper, template and other digital tools that your customers can use and benefit. Either link them within your blog posts or use social media for the offers. This is a great way to increase your mailing list and get them into your sales funnel.
16 – Create bold business cards. Make your business cards stand out from the rest and get you noticed at live events. Looka offers unique business card and logo designs that are powered by Artificial Intelligence. You don’t need design skills. Simply create an account and use one of their pre-made templates to get started.
17 – Host a class or webinar. It positions you as an expert in your industry. You can communicate with a large group from all over the world and make sales without selling hard. On top of all that, you get to generate new leads and build great relationships! Similarly, hosting a free on-site class can be a great way to attract locals to your business and allow them to learn more about your business’s products and services.
18 – Offer industry info on social media. Once you have all your social media pages up and running, start sharing valuable information to fans and followers. Become a trusted expert in your industry and connect with them in a positive way.
19 – Build a relationship with vendors. When you have your business card created with Looka, give it to vendors. Ask them if they can use your product/ service or if they know someone who can. Sometimes vendors have a bulletin board where business cards are displayed. Ask them if yours can be added to the board.
20 – Find something unique about your business and publicize it. Create a press release and send it out to local newspapers and magazines whose audience would be interested in what you’re selling or providing. Once your press release is published, post it on one or more online press release services, and make sure you include links to your website. If you want to increase your chances of getting published, send along a photo (drawing or an actual photo) with your press release.
21 – Offer to become a speaker at industry events/ conferences. There are many organizations out there that are constantly seeking speakers for meetings. By offering to become a speaker at one or more of these events, you’ll benefit from the recognition your small business receives, build up your contacts, and gain publicity in your community or city.
22 – Start making cold calls. This might be an old-school tactic but if you want the business you need to go after it. “Cold calls” are the calls you make to people that you want to do business with. When you get them on the line, briefly describe your small business, what you do or provide, and ask them for an appointment to speak further about ways in which your small business can help them achieve a goal or solve a problem.
23 – Ask for referrals. Keep your customers satisfied in every way possible. A satisfied customer will most definitely refer you to their family and friends. You can remind them by asking for referrals and providing them with a few business cards or brochures that they can give to their family and friends. All it takes is a lead. Then you have to follow up on it right away.
24 – Run a contest. People love competition and prizes. Choose a desirable price that is related to your small business. It can be a gift basket of your products, free services, or sports tickets. Then post about it on all social media channels and determine a contest deadline. As the deadline nears, keep posting reminders to social channels to remind your followers to get involved.
25 – Create and print brochures/ flyers. This is an easy way to reach many customers. Most brochures introduce your small business, provide a quick summary of your products/ services and share features and benefits, plus all your contact information. Make sure to include your website and all of your social media handles on them. When created nicely, they can capture your prospects undivided attention. Flyers, on the other hand, are one-pagers that act as a first impression.
26 – Self promote! Put that shyness away and promote yourself. You definitely have something to be proud of — an award, a new skill or milestone, or work in your local community. Practice self-promoting by speaking and writing about your accomplishments on your blog. You can also add a line or two at the bottom of your email signature, brochure or flyer about something you’ve done that you are proud of. Go even further by creating social media posts about it and even add it to your LinkedIn profile. Let the whole world know!
Ready to start or expand your business? We can help! Apply for a loan today.