May 5-11 is National Small Business Week. BluePay honors the hardworking SMB owners that are the pillars of our communities - not just this week, but throughout the entire year. In today’s post, we provide 6 essential ways you can market to new and existing customers without breaking the bank.
The golden age of print, TV, and radio was extremely lucrative for America’s largest brands. They had the advertising budgets to reach massive audiences, which helped them defend their market share.Then came the Internet — a global platform that essentially democratized access, information, and reach.
Against this backdrop, big companies still enjoy a competitive advantage. However, thanks to the world wide web, anyone can now reach millions of potential customers — even on a modest budget.
Below are six proven strategies for stretching your marketing dollars and generating profitable sales.
1. Launch a Blog
Thanks to platforms like WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal, anyone can build a professional-looking website quickly and on the cheap. This online asset serves as the foundation for all of the marketing strategies discussed below.
Regardless, it is important to regularly publish new content to your website so that visitors keep coming back. Specifically, you should post valuable articles, infographics, and videos that address the needs of your target audience.
This is where blogging serves a crucial role.
The more content posted to your blog, the more search engine traffic you’ll generate. Because every article lives online in perpetuity, the benefits of your blogging efforts are cumulative — with each new article helping to draw more and more traffic.
2. Leverage Social Media
Blogging can help with search engine rankings, but there’s an entire universe of potential users that Google, Yahoo, and Bing never see.
Facebook, for example, exists in a silo that doesn’t really come up in the search results. That’s just a single platform (albeit one of the largest).
Don’t forget about Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok — all of which are free to use. These platforms want you to advertise, of course. When you have a larger budget, you probably should.
You can build up a sizable following simply by republishing articles and announcements from your website onto these free platforms.
In addition, many social media communities have groups for every interest under the sun. By joining relevant groups, you can meet potential customers and find out what their pain points are. This is valuable information worth covering in future blog posts.
3. Embrace Email Marketing
There’s a reason why McDonald’s still advertises. Everybody already knows what they sell, but McDonald’s uses advertising to stay at the forefront of its customers’ minds.
Brand recall is what prompts people to head to the “Golden Arches” after:
- A long day at the office
- Endless hours on the road
McDonald’s is comfortable and familiar.
You can duplicate this brand recall benefit by developing an email marketing campaign.
Everyone on your email list already knows what you sell. Though by sending well-timed announcements and updates, you can stay ever-present in their minds. When people are finally ready to make a purchase, your business is the one they think of first.
A good way to build your email list is to offer free (but walled-off) content.
“Sign up today, and we’ll send you a free e-book directly to your email address.”
4. Explore Customer Referrals
Word-of-mouth advertising is arguably the most effective marketing. If you offer stellar service at reasonable prices, your customers will do all the heavy lifting for you.
Sometimes, it still helps to give your users a gentle nudge by offering referral rewards.
Your customers are now incentivized to evangelize on your behalf. For their hard work, you’re willing to give out discounts, bonuses, gifts, or whatever enticements you think might work.
5. Form Strategic Partnerships
Teaming up with non-competitive businesses within your industry is another great way to spread the word. This is especially true if you both agree to swap discounts:
- The car rental agency down the street agrees to send customers to your hotel (with a 5 percent discount).
- Your hotel agrees to refer customers to the car rental agency (with a 5 percent discount).
Keep in mind that you’re not limited to a single partnership. You can launch cross-promotional agreements with numerous businesses in your area.
6. One Final (Essential) Marketing Tip for Small Business Owners
Management guru Peter Drucker famously said, “What gets measured gets managed.”
This wisdom can be applied to all business situations — including marketing. That’s why it is imperative you “measure” how each of the above components is performing. It simply doesn’t make sense to throw resources at avenues that aren’t delivering results.
This is especially true if you’re on a shoestring budget.
Fortunately, it has never been easier to leverage these valuable insights. Google Analytics, for example, is 100 percent free. This is just one of many platforms you can use to measure and manage your marketing campaigns.
Want Additional Marketing Tips for Your Small Business?
Standing out from the crowd isn’t easy. Thanks to modern technology, it’s now possible to compete on a global stage without a huge budget.
In fact, most of the above strategies are free — with the only real investment being time.
Want even more marketing tips for small business owners?