Over 90% of Ontario’s businesses are small and medium sized businesses. Small and medium sized businesses face many challenges as they fight for a share in the marketplace. One of the biggest challenges is promotion and marketing on a limited budget. Having a limited budget is not always a bad thing to have. This means more research to find the best value for your hard earned dollars.
Every business wants to get its name out there, but when you’re a small business with a modest budget, it’s hard to come up with traditional and online marketing ideas while balancing marketing expenses against the expenses of actually doing business. And with advertising costing as much as it does, it’s no wonder that so many small businesses struggle to get noticed. Don’t despair! There are plenty of things you can do to promote your small business. Follow our top 8 tips for obtaining maximum exposure for minimum output.
Optimize your website for search engines
Google is the most popular website on the Internet, so why wouldn’t you leverage it? Through search engine optimization, you can rank higher on Google so you can get more visitors to your website. Some common ways are ensuring your website is SEO and mobile optimized and updating your website every quarter whether that is 3 or 4 months. One of the most common mistakes I see businesses make is not updating there business information in Google. This way when someone looks up your business, it shows up with all the basic information like your address, phone number and hours. It is a great way to get potential customers to your store.
Search is becoming more and more personalized. When you perform a search on Google, you’ll start noticing that the results are becoming tailored to your location. USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE! Claim your business location as yours so when someone looks it up or somewhere near it, your business pops up. It is a great way to promote your business without having to do anything.
You’ve probably heard it before. Networking is the key to growing your business or If you want to succeed, you need to network with like-minded people. Networking requires a time commitment and it doesn’t provide instant gratification, but a strong network is one of the greatest assets any business person can have.
Leverage Social Networks
Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus are all popular sites that you should be leveraging. Create profiles on each of those sites as they are a good source of traffic. They’ll create new opportunities for you to find customers.
Some simple ways to leverage your social networks are:
By sharing good content that you find while surfing the web and participating on the social web, you’ll quickly be able to build up your profiles. The key is to be patient as it can take six months to a year before your social profiles really become popular.
Ask for referrals
Do you already have customers? If so, have you asked them for referrals? It’s a pretty effective approach as long as your current customers are happy with you.
Look up your current customers on social sites like LinkedIn and see who they’re connected with. If you think someone they know can benefit from your product or service, ask for an introduction.
You’ll be surprised to find out that only a very small percentage of your customers will not be willing to make an introduction. If a large portion tells you no, it means that you could be doing a better job making them happy.
Give it away
If someone has the opportunity to experience your product or service, chances are they will want to purchase more.
Don’t be afraid to give someone a free trial or a sample. In today’s economy, people are more comfortable purchasing something they have been able to experience first.
It is a lot less expensive to keep a customer than it is to get a new one. That’s why establishing strong relationships with your customer base is crucial. One of the ways you can do that is by keeping in touch with people through email marketing.
Ask customers for their email address when they visit your store or website. Then, make your communications informative, helpful and professional — something your customers will look forward to receiving.
Put together a group of synergistic, non-competitive businesses in your area and agree to cross-promote.
You can use coupons, fliers, reciprocal website links, bundled promotions or social media platforms. By collaborating with each other, you can expand your customer base because you’ll be reaching new people.
Leverage your community
You don’t have to think big when it comes to your marketing efforts. Think locally. What’s going on in your community?
Sponsor a Little League team or a 5k charity walk/run. Print bookmarks and leave them at the local library. Get to know your ideal customer and think about how and where they spend their time.
Then search for opportunities to get in front of your customer with your marketing message.
These nine, inexpensive marketing strategies will help you engage customers, build relationships, and ultimately keep your brand top-of-mind. It’s not always about the money you have to spend on marketing, it’s about the time and effort you put into it and above all, the relevance it has for your customers.