Small businesses frequently have small business budgets, so obtaining the resources you need to spread awareness of your company can be challenging. That said, lacking cash doesn’t have to stop you from putting your company on the map. No matter your budget, with a little creativity, you can get your brand out there.
Although you’ll have to spend a bit of money on most approaches, you’ll generally spend less than with formal marketing campaigns. To that end, here are 15 easy, affordable tips for how to get your business out there.
Why it’s important to get your business out there
Your potential customers need to know that you’re an option before they decide whether or not to work with you. You can raise awareness in four major ways:
- Brand recognition - The more exposure your business has to potential customers, the more likely the average consumer is to be aware of your brand. This brand awareness portends numerous benefits, ranging from establishing consumer trust to better preparing your company for growth.
- Customer engagement - The more your business is out there, the more your current and prospective customers will engage with it. This benefit of brand awareness can’t be understated, as more engaged customers often become more loyal customers.
- Reputation - Building a strong reputation increases the likelihood of your target audience buying from you. Think about it like this: Would you buy from the small business with no reviews instead of the competitor with lots of reviews? Don’t be that no-rep company.
- Sales - Given all the above and plenty of other common-sense reasons, increased brand awareness is a nearly infallible sales conduit. People can’t buy from you without knowing that you exist, and they’re more likely to choose your brand as they learn more good things about it. The best part is that getting this helpful information to your customers doesn’t have to be an uphill battle.
15 methods to get your business out there
Among the best ways to get your business out there are the following approaches:
1. Develop a Marketing Plan
Before you dive into the strategies below, map out your marketing plan. Included in your plan should be specifics of your target audience, marketing channels to pursue, timelines, the budget, and who is responsible for each step. Once you have your plan in place, you can execute in an organized and cost-effective way.
2. Use Reviews
Grow your customer base organically through credible word of mouth. One of the best ways to get positive word of mouth reviews is to claim your page on high profile review websites like Yelp or Google Reviews. When you get a positive review, take the time to acknowledge the post and thank your customer. You should also feature positive reviews on your website and social media channels. The internet is frequently the first step for consumers and word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful ways to grow a business.
If you do get negative reviews, address them swiftly. This post from the SmartBiz Small Business Blog gives you easy steps to follow: How to Respond to Negative Reviews.
3. Research Local Media
There are lots of local news outlets you can explore to elevate your business in the community. Online publications, traditional print publications, local TV news, and talk radio are all mediums to approach with interesting and timely content. Reporters are often hungry for stories about local businesses, especially around the holidays. Do a little research to find reporters that cover the local business news beat. Write an email or a press release featuring you or your business and submit it through the proper channels. Topics might include your journey to business ownership, how you’re giving back to the community, a unique new product launch, etc. Don’t forget to pitch yourself as a small business expert or an authority in your industry. Here’s a helpful article that can help you hone a pitch message to a reporter or editor: How to Make a Media Pitch.
4. Print Business Cards
Go old school-print colorful and creative business cards and hand them out everywhere! Your card is an invitation to check out your business so make sure you include relevant and updated information. List your website, contact information, and any details about your company to draw them in. Include a special offer like 20% off or free gift with purchase so you can track the reach. Don’t forget to ask for a business card in return-networking is the lifeblood of small businesses! (See below)
Networking isn’t always easy. It can be challenging for a business owner to get his company out there and form mutually beneficial relationships. Networking groups are a great way to get started. Check with your Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, SCORE offices, or other local groups that welcome small business owners. If you attend industry trade shows, put your networking efforts into high gear. It’s a good opportunity to form mutually beneficial relationships.
Be sure to have your “elevator pitch” ready to go. It’s a few succinct sentences that lets others know exactly what your business has to offer. For more, read How to Turn Every Event Into a Networking Opportunity.
6. Host an Event
Our article, Ways That Hosting an Event Can Benefit Your Small Business, outlines in detail how an event can help put your business in the spotlight.
Leslie Pierce, VP of Marketing for Half Price Banners, has worked with multiple small businesses to advertise their event. She says:
“Hosting an event can benefit your business in so many different ways and it doesn’t have to be a big event to get the attention you’re looking for. Bringing your customers, staff, vendors and partners together can help you build relationships, gain trust among your customers, and cultivate a strong image of your brand.”
Work on your public speaking skills so you can clearly let your audience know what you offer.
7. Participate in Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday, held between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is picking up steam! The unofficial shopping holiday was launched in 2010 and encourages shoppers to support local businesses and restaurants.
Get the word out that you’re participating with signage, social media posts, and local advertising. Offer special Small Business Saturday deals like discounts or product bundles. Encourage shoppers to post about your business on social media and gather contact information so you can stay in touch through email blasts or newsletters. For much more information on making the most of the day, visit the SmartBiz Small Business Blog: Small Business Saturday: Last Minute Strategies for Success.
8. Use Calendar Observations
Do you have a detailed marketing calendar? These days, there are tons of fun observations that you can usually find trending on Twitter. Days like National Coffee Lovers Day, Hunt for Happiness Week, Women’s History Month, National Small Business Week, and more are held throughout the year.
9. Sponsor a Local Sports Team
Local sports leagues are always in need of funding or donations. Research your community to see how you can support a team. The players and coaches may need funds for equipment, tournament travel, or uniforms. Look at your budget and approach the league with ideas. Get the most bang for your buck with a prominently displayed banner or a branded patch on the uniforms. You can even have your team show up at games to cheer and pass out snack bags. You’ll enjoy giving back and supporting healthy activities.
10. Support a Charity
You won’t need to look far to find a charity who could benefit from some support. From animal rescue organizations to homeless shelters, there are a ton of ways to get involved and give back.
Put a donation box in your store to collect much needed items. Or have a jar for extra change that goes directly to the organization. Volunteering is another great way to get involved and increase visibility. Participate in a community clean-up and be sure to wear shirts advertising your business.
11. Write Business Blogs
Your business website likely includes a blog, but if it doesn’t, this feature is relatively simple to add. Use it – writing blog entries relevant to your products or services won’t cost you any money unless you hire third-party content writers. Your blog is a low-cost way to prove your expertise while subtly gesturing toward your offerings. It’s also great for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and marketing your blogs is often a high-ROI promotional approach. Learn more via the SmartBiz Loans guide to content marketing.
12 . Use Google Ads
For a low-cost (but not free) way to get your business out there through online marketing, Google Ads (Google AdWords) is an ever-reliable option. Your ads will appear at the top of search engine result pages, and you’ll only pay for them when people actually click on them. Better yet, you can set a budget and adjust it daily or fully cancel it. Learn more via the SmartBiz Loans guide to Google Ads.
13. Maintain a Strong Social Media Presence
Make sure your company is on all major social media platforms (if that makes sense for your business) so you can put yourself in front of a massive potential audience. Doing so is a free route to sizable brand exposure, and you can always put a small amount of money into paid social media ads.
14. Harness the Power of Online Communities
In online communities such as subreddits (mutual interest Reddit pages) and Facebook groups, your customers can advocate for your brand, help one another, or provide you with direct feedback. The result can be a higher level of customer engagement that may lead to more revenue from cross-selling, upselling, and add-ons. It’s also a great way to get to know the people powering your bottom line.
15. Give Influencer Marketing a Go
Influencer marketing is simply a new version of TV commercials with celebrity endorsements. That mark of trust can mean a lot to a consumer, so there’s immense power in getting a social media influencer with a large, devoted following to promote you. Yes, their posts will likely include disclaimers that they’re sponsored, but when someone seen as a thought leader gets behind what you offer, you’ll still be seen as valuable.
In the crowded business landscape, it can be difficult to rise to the top. But these 10 creative and low-cost strategies can help you attract new customers and increase revenue.
Want more? The SmartBiz Small Business Blog is written for entrepreneurs like you. There’s a wealth of easy-to-read information available covering every topic from technology to marketing to employee management.