These days, few small businesses have Apple-sized advertising budgets with tens of millions of bucks available for prime time TV ads. And yet, you still have to get the word out about your business somehow.
Chances are you’re already off to a good start without really realizing that you’re marketing. Now it’s time to take it to the next level. Here are seven proven tips to help market your business better, all with a minimal budget.
- Must-have marketing tools – Start with a professionally designed business card. It’s the first thing you hand to prospects when you meet them. Next, memorize a tightly scripted 30-second “infomercial” or elevator speech focusing on your unique selling proposition. And make sure your full contact info is in every email you send.
- Use your website to achieve end-to-end synergy – No matter how much you have to spend, all of your marketing efforts should use your website as the nexus of your services. All of your emails, direct marketing materials, print ads, newsletters, press releases, and ads should feature your domain name to build traffic. Doing so is key to converting prospects to customers.
- Network, network, network! – The more ways you can network, the more potential you have to meet people. A weekly Business Network International chapter has been terrific for me. Your local Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, Lions Club, and Rotary are also viable networking groups. But don’t forget the soaring popularity of online social media sites like LinkedIn, Yahoo Groups, Facebook, and Twitter.
- Low-cost advertising ideas – Run small space ads in your local Chamber newsletter. Mail personalized postcards or use SendOutCards.com, an online system that sends postcards printed with handwriting fonts. Also, read blogs like this for free advice –– or write a column of your own somewhere and build an audience!
- Savvy promotional ideas – Become a shameless self-promoter whenever you have the opportunity. Put a sandwich board outside your business. Slap a sign on your car. Send an e-newsletter through MailChimp, Campaigner, VerticalResponse, or Constant Contact. Use your website to promote an offer that will expire in 30 days – and send an email to drive traffic to it.
- Proven direct response ideas – It’s far more cost-effective and successful to market to your base of current customers rather than prospects. Ask past customers if they’re still interested in your product or services – if not, why? Mail a series of three to five postcards using testimonials.
- Blog a bunch – By starting a blog and writing short articles or a weekly basis, you’ll expand your digital footprint, build your brand, establish yourself as an expert, and possibly sell more of your product or service that you ever thought. The most important thing about blogging is to keep it up: An out-of-date blog says you just don’t care, or (worse) have gone out of business.