Large business are reducing their advertising budgets so it is no surprise small business is as well. In fact, 74% of corporate business marketing departments indicate that they are reducing their advertising budgets. So, if advertising budgets are falling, but the need for new business due to recession losses is rising, how can you continue to market your business?

There is no need to completely eliminate your traditional marketing efforts like print advertising or direct mail. But now is a good time to try some new marketing tips. Right now, you need to be trying everything out so you can see what works and what doesn’t. With these methods, there is no harm or loss in trying!

Social media is the most talked about of all of these marketing tips. By interacting on Twitter, joining groups on Facebook and LinkedIn you expose a large number of new contacts to your business. Be diligent. This form of advertising through “relationship building” takes time.

It is much cheaper to take care of your current customers than to replace them. In times like these, going the extra mile to serve and socialize with them is crucial. This might mean simply touching base with a quick phone call to thank them for their business, sending a small gift or stopping by for a visit. Do it for the right reasons, not to hustle, and they will reward you with referrals and continued business.

When you interact with people in other businesses, you can offer to refer them if they refer you. This is how you build a referral network. Whether it is your landscaping company, your lawyer or your accountant, if you feel comfortable recommending them, ask if they will do the same for you. Let all of the contacts that you trust know you are seeking new business.

A great way to meet like-minded people you respect and to build your own reputation is through community involvement. Whether you are volunteering at a soup kitchen or for Habitat for Humanity, you get the opportunity to tell people what you do while providing a genuine service. You can also let people know your business is involved with certain organizations by adding their logos to your website.

A well-developed spiel about your business is important so you can answer the question “What do you do?” well. This presentation is called your “elevator speech” because it is short enough to deliver on an elevator ride. Be sure you flesh it out a bit if you are in a traditional business. If you own an auto supply store, don’t just say that. Say “I own a business that supports both casual drivers as well as car collectors by carrying one of the largest inventories in the area. What kind of car do you drive?”. This opens up a whole new conversation.

Spend some time making sure your blog and website are search engine optimized (SEO). SEO improves your rankings on major search engines like Yahoo and Google and is improved through using links, changing your category titles or good keywords. You can do much of this yourself. If you lack confidence, get some help. I can give you insights into this and have articles on this topic on my website.

Continue to check out my blog and other articles for more free or low-cost marketing insights.


by Steven Schlagel