As a local marketing consultant in New Jersey I am always asked how can a local business market inexpensively? Before a business begins marketing its products, it is ideal to identify the customers you want the promotional material to target. Once you have narrowed down your target customer, you have numerous marketing techniques to choose from. Most of the marketing techniques used by small businesses are low cost and can be used at different stages of the marketing cycle or may all be implemented at once. In this article, we take a look at seven inexpensive marketing techniques every small business should be using.
When starting a business, the first step is understanding your client base and then figuring out strategies to reach them. With a good printer, average computer and an answering machine, you will be able to start a marketing campaign without the need for additional space.
Flyers are considered the carpet-bombing technique of cheap marketing. All you need is to identify an area where your target clients may be and physically distribute to them flyers either personally or their mailboxes. Ensure that the flyers you produce are brief and as precise as possible and highlight the services or products you offer as well as your contact information. You may consider offering a free coupon, discount or appraisal to attract more people.
Most public spaces, supermarkets, and shopping malls offer bulletin board spaces either for free or for a small fee. This method has worked for some small businesses and failed for others, the bottom line is to try and make the poster visible and include tabs that can be presented to clients for discounts.
Make the tabs different colors and place the posters in different locations so you can easily track which location is generating the most leads. Once your data indicates which location is generating more leads, you should target that surrounding location more. You can blanket the surrounding location with flyers and door hangers.
3. Referral Networks
This is invaluable to any business. It does not only mean referrals by customers who are encouraged through rewards or discounts earned per referral. It also includes the referrals from other local businesses.
If you deal in white collar professions, business referrals are very strong. For example, a lawyer may refer clients to an accountant who in turn refers clients to a broker. In such situations, the professionals stake their reputation on the referral. For business referrals to work well for you, you need to create a network that gives a similar commitment and look to the value and added quality that your product or service offers.
Always keep in mind you don’t need be enemies with your competitors. If you become overwhelmed at any point, you can offer some smaller projects to your competitor’s and in most cases they will return the favor. Building a strategic partnership with local small businesses can really help your network grow and advance your marketing by sharing the cost of higher end marketing techniques.
4. Value Additions or Loyalty Discounts
Most entrepreneurs will tell you that value addition is a very powerful selling point for any service or product. Value addition may be similar to free appraisals and coupons, but aims at increasing client satisfaction and expanding the gap between you and your competitors.
Some of the common value additions include discount for return clients, discounts, referral rewards and point cards. Most people choose to visit one shop over another based on whether they have a preferred customer card or a point card. When making your posters and flyers, make a point to highlight the value additions to drive traffic.
Marketing techniques will help you land those jobs, but what you do after getting the job is often a strong marketing tool. You can administer follow-up questionnaires to get feedback from clients about your product or services. This is one of the most important parts of the sales cycle and should always be done. You need to stay on top of your prospects mind and doing follow-ups through email, calling or text messaging will do that; just be careful not to use to many points of contact or it may overwhelm your prospect. Additionally, when looking for new prospects if your business involves visiting the client’s home, you can take the opportunity to drop flyers in the mailboxes around the neighborhood you are visiting.
6. Cold Calling
Is cold calling unpleasant? Yes. Is it important? Yes. Whether over the phone or door to door it has proven to be a baptism of fire for entrepreneurs. It forces you to sell both the business and yourself and are important marketing techniques not to be forgotten. If you cannot show business owners the value you are propose and a step by step to reach their goal it is unlikely they will buy your products or services. When done over the phone, you do not benefit from a face to face conversation or have the opportunity to read body language to indicate whether you are connecting with your prospect. You have to do this with inflection in your voice and the message you deliver. Cold calling encourages adaptability and creativity in the way you broadcast your message. Try different sales scripts and see what works for you and tweak them as you learn what works best.
7. Internet Marketing
The marketing techniques discussed above have not changed in the last fifty years or so. However, the Internet has rapidly evolved over the same period. It is almost unthinkable that a business will not at least have a website. Operating without a website means you will not have an access point for those shoppers who turn to search engines before making a purchase decision. Every business should be working towards building digital footprints so it is easier for local customers to find you when searching for products or services. You should start by building a website and then add local citations to help your business build some local authority in the searches.