10 Low-Cost Ways To Market Your Business!
Too many small-business owners think marketing your business is like a trip to the dentist — something you just have to do every six months or so. However, when marketing your business is continuous and targeted rather than occasional and generic, business gets easier. If prospects have a positive view of your wares and reputation before you contact them or before they start shopping, you’re that much closer to getting a sale.
Your marketing program isn’t tied to a price tag. Marketing your business is defined by putting the right message in front of the right person at the right time. Here are 10 ideas for doing that — on the cheap.
Market your business by taking steps to make customers feel special.
Customers respond to being recognized, especially in these rush-rush, get-the-lowest-price times. Even with a Web-based business, good customer service is possible. You could enclose a small surprise thank you item with every product you sell and send a handwritten thank-you note. Adding a token surprise gift and note cost pennies, but add something special to your customers purchase.
Market your business by creating business cards that prospects keep.
Most business cards are tossed within hours of a meeting. Instead of having your card tossed, create one that recipients actually will use — say, a good-looking notepad with your contact info and tagline on every page. A business card notepad is used almost daily, kept for at least 30 days or so and carries a high remembrance factor.
Stop servicing break-even customers.
If this idea makes you gasp, think harder. You’re falling for the fallacy of increasing sales instead of boosting profits. If you stop marketing your business to unprofitable customers, you have more time and resources for customers who actually grow your business. More often than not, 20% of your customer base is contributing 150% to 200% of total annualized profit (TAP); 70% is breaking even; and 10% is costing you 50% to 100% of TAP. Take a detailed look at your customer profitability data and then direct premium services and marketing to customers who count.
Market your business by developing a mailing list.
Most businesses have harnessed the power of e-newsletters or blog posts and you definitely should be regularly creating one as well. It’s very cost-effective. However, because email marketing is now nearly ubiquitous, you can quickly stand out by occasionally sending personal, surface mail letters to customers and prospects. Just make sure the letter delivers something customers want to read, relevant tips and information in your field, premium offers or a sweetener personalized for the recipient, such as a discount on their next purchase of whatever they last purchased. Your marketing information has to have actionable value to those that read it and reflect the value and expertise of what you offer. Remember, “the best way to sell is to tell.” The process is simplified by creating a letter template and envelope or customer label mailing list.
Market your business by boosting your profile at trade shows and conferences.
You can quickly create signage, glossy postcards with your contact information, product news inserts or an event mini web site.
Combine business with pleasure — and charity.
Spearhead an event, party or conference for a cause you care about. That puts you in the position of getting to know many people, and shows off your small business leadership skills. We like to alternate between a short list of causes that are close to our heart.
Market your business by creating a destination.
Bookstore chain Barnes & Noble has its coffee bars. Furnishings giant Ikea offers child-care centers and cafeterias. Why? So customers will gravitate to the stores to enjoy an experience and hang out for a while. Sunday morning at Barnes & Noble becomes a pleasant weekend routine, rather than a shopping errand. Steal this idea. This tip isn’t limited to offline destinations, either. Using pay-per-click advertising, you can cheaply drive traffic to a one-time news event or specialty offerings.
Market your business by becoming an online expert.
This is the “free sample” approach to bringing in business. Research active email discussion lists and online bulletin boards that are relevant to your business and audience. Join several and start posting expert advice to solve problems or answer questions. You may need to keep this up for a bit. But the rewards come back in paying clients and referrals. We started out just answering a few questions and soon we were recruited by American Express as an advisor on their OPEN Forum for small business owners.
Market your business by courting local media.
Editorial features convey more credibility with prospective clients than paid advertising does. To get coverage from the local media, whether from the town newspaper, from TV or radio stations, or from trade journals, you need a fresh, timely story. It’s usually worthwhile to hire an experienced publicist to position the stories, target appropriate media representatives and write and send press releases. Usually, you can work on a short-term or contingency basis.
Finally, don’t let customers simply slip away.
Make an effort to reel them back in. It costs a lot less to retain a disgruntled or inactive customer than to acquire a new one. If you haven’t heard from a customer in a while, send a personalized email (you can automate this process), inquiring whether all is well. For a customer who suffered a bad experience, pick up the phone, acknowledge the unpleasantness and ask if there’s anything you can do. A discount can’t hurt either. Being kind to customers is the smartest low-cost marketing you can do.
If you have never had any experience marketing your business, we know that it can feel a little daunting, but we have the cure for that. We have created a Marketing Message Toolkit to help you. If you have a different resource, that’s okay. It’s just important that you begin identifying and building your own partnerships. There is a lot more to it than what I can convey here, but I hope this has helped a little. In your Marketing Message Toolkit we have already done most of the work for you so all you have to do is just fill in the blanks to a few questions and voila, you have created your first marketing message and other additional marketing materials! Marketing your business can be worth it’s weight in gold as far as generating sales and growing your business. If you would like to start generating more sales this week just click here now!
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