When you own or run a small business, promotion and marketing activity has a habit of falling down the list of priorities when you already have so many demands on your time and budget.
But, the truth is, spreading the word about what you sell or the services you offer is crucial to the future success of your business and really does not need to take up lots of your time or money.
Here are Red Shoes top tips on cost-effective business marketing.
There are many services online which make it easy and cheap to set up your own website.
You don’t need any technical know-how, just a few minutes to upload a few words about what you do and where and how customers can contact you.
Add your logo and a few pictures and you will have a serviceable website which will enable your potential customers to find you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Even better, add a blog and write articles based on your own expertise which will entertain and inform your potential customers and you stand a chance of it being shared far and wide, extending your reach.
It’s free to set up a social media account and the likes of Facebook and Twitter are a great way to interact with your potential clients.
You can use social media to build up a rapport, grow trust and drive traffic to your website, where you can use Call to Action pages or buttons to transform visitors to paying customers.
If you have a budget to spend, you can splash out on Facebook and Twitter advertising, which you can target to specific locations and demographics.
My blog 10 Reasons Social Media is Good for Business explains more of the benefits.
If you have a mailing list, use a service such as Mailchimp to send out professional marketing messages.
These should include specific calls to actions.
If you don’t have a mailing list, consider offering a freebie or special offer to those customers who sign up to your list through your website.
Read How to get Started With Email Marketing for more information
Get your business card into as many people’s hands as possible, particularly those who can help you grow your business.
Make sure your card conveys a professional image.
Use your logo on anything and everything you send out as familiarity with a brand builds trust. Even if they don’t need what you are offering right now, your business may be top of the list when potential customers do need your product or service.
Consider joining networking groups and other professional organisations, including the Chamber of Commerce or even organisations such as the civic society or Rotary.
These are usually made up of other business people from the local area and are a great way to start building a network of like-minded people who will be happy to scratch your back if you scratch theirs.
If you have something newsworthy going on in your business, get in touch with your local paper.
Journalists tend to be busy meeting their next deadline, so, if you can, provide a ready-to-use press release and good quality image.
Make sure you include details about your business in a “boilerplate” section at the end, as well as a telephone number and email address for someone to contact if more details are required.
Read How to Write a Press Release for your Business for more guidance.
Probably out of most people’s comfort zone, but if you have the skills you could consider creating a video demonstration of your products or services and sharing it on your website, via social media and on sites such as YouTube.
Ask for referrals
You still can’t beat word of mouth for securing new customers, so don’t be afraid to ask existing happy customers to recommend you to their friends.
You can also ask them to provide written testimonials which you can use on your website.
Printed promotional material
If applicable, always have a supply of relevant marketing material to hand to send or give to potential clients.
Make sure all literature is well written and well presented – first impressions count for a lot and badly presented brochures and leaflets can destroy your credibility.
There are a number of ways of getting your leaflets into the hands of your targe audience, including paying a distribution company to post them through letterboxes or doing it yourself, or inserting them inside the local newspaper.
You can also ask local coffee shops and other businesses if they will have some of your leaflets where the public can pick one up.
Find out why Plan B recommends using leaflets and flyers in your marketing mix.