In any economy small business marketing ideas are critical to your success. As a business owner you face a daunting challenge, creating awareness for your product or service.
All too often, marketing strategies are placed on the back burner in favor of more pressing demands. Many small business owners realize too late that by neglecting their marketing initiatives, they’re putting their venture at serious risk.
The good news is, making your offerings more visible to your target market doesn’t have to require a huge investment of time or money. Below are some easy, effective small business marketing ideas:
- Create a buzz. To get everyone talking about your business, consider launching an unconventional marketing campaign that falls outside the realm of what’s been done before.For instance, if you’re launching an eco-friendly clothing website, you might send out small tree saplings with your product mailer. The more unusual the idea, the better. The key here is to make your campaign—and thus your product or service—unforgettable.
- Start blogging. If your business doesn’t have a blog yet, it’s time to hop on the bandwagon. An inexpensive, high-returning online marketing strategy, a blog allows you to give your company a personality while providing customers with value-adding content. As an added bonus, the constant stream of fresh content and strategic keyword usage will help boost your site’s rankings in Yahoo and Google’s organic search results.
- Consider a newsletter. Customers love information, and when you provide it in an informed, professional manner, you’ll become an instant authority. Newsletters are one of those small business marketing ideas that has stood the test of time.Send out a monthly or quarterly newsletter with updates about your products, industry trends, or valuable tips. You’ll build credibility for your business and keep your product or service on customers’ minds.The latest variation on this theme is to send an electronic version of a newsletter called an ezine. It is simply an emailed newsletter. It has the advantage of being very inexpensive to implement as it requires no paper or postage!
- Hire a copywriter. One of the biggest mistakes small businesses make is delegating their copywriting tasks to people who aren’t copywriters. No matter how good your small business marketing ideas may be, if they aren’t communicated well it will be a waste of time.Your written content—whether it’s an email, brochure, or web page—is a direct reflection of your business. Take the time to find a professional business writer whose style and experience is a good fit for your business.
- Warm up to cold calls. They often get a bad rap in the marketing world, but for a small business, cold calls can be an effective sales driver. And they don’t necessarily have to happen on the phone—you can drop by local stores or send emails informing businesses and individuals of the product or service you’re offering.
- Create traditional marketing collateral. The future of marketing may be online, but printed marketing materials still have a place in the modern business world.Your small business marketing ideas should include a basic package of fliers, brochures, and postcards to distribute at trade shows, by mail, or at public locations throughout your area.Resist the urge to save money by designing the pieces yourself. By enlisting the services of a skilled designer, you’ll convey a much more professional image. You should also consider hiring a commercial printer to ensure that each piece has vivid, consistent color and graphics.
- Only make promises you can keep. Exaggeration has no place in a marketing campaign. Expect customers to call you on the claims you make in your message. Well-written copy and attention-getting graphics are meaningless if you don’t deliver on your promises. The last thing you need is someone accusing you of false advertising.
- Don’t neglect traditional PR. Issue a press release about what’s new and exciting at your company, such as product releases, new hires, or an office expansion. Submit the release to trade publications and online article directories, and post it on your own company blog as well.
- Use Pay-Per-Click advertising.
With a wide majority of shoppers heading to the web for products and services, you can’t afford to neglect online marketing opportunities.Pay-per-click placements can be secured for targeted keywords, allowing your business to show up at the top of search results on Google, Yahoo, and other search engines.Choose your keywords carefully—if you bid on search terms that are too broad, the competition will be greater and your return on your advertising investment may not be as high. If you sell a specialized product, purchasing a pay-per-click ad for that specific product name is usually a safe bet.
- Go social. Consider leveraging the power of social shopping sites to get your products in front of more potential buyers. Start out slow by posting one or two products and testing the results before launching a full-scale campaign. Be selective about the inventory you feature—choose products that create a buzz and reinforce your business’ branding identity.
- Send regular emails. If you’ve already got a list of prospect and customer email addresses, start out by contacting these established leads with regular marketing emails. If you don’t have such a list, start collecting them.When you email, don’t do it just for the sake of emailing—make sure each message contains a relevant, value-adding benefit to the recipient. To save time and money, consider leveraging the services of an email provider who can assist with template design, email deployment, and list management.
- Leverage the power of affiliate marketing. Approach other small businesses that cater to your target market, offer to post a link to their site from yours, and ask them to return the favor. For instance, if you sell wedding planning services, you might request reciprocal links from a local florist, reception facility, or videographer.In addition to driving more prospective customers to your site, the inbound links will make it more attractive to search engines—thus boosting your organic rankings.
- Be generous with discounts. With consumers pinching pennies now more than ever, catering to their budget-minded sensibilities can get you far. Try sending coupons with your next mailer, or include them in a bundled coupon package.
Regardless of the small business marketing ideas you implement, the most important thing is to be authentic. If your message isn’t relevant to your brand or audience, potential buyers will move right on to a competitor whose campaign rings more true.
Remember, small business marketing ideas will be just that, ideas, unless you take action today to implement them. Don’t waste time … get started!