7 ways to market your business at no cost
Cash is King. Long live the King.
Use the resources you have to hand to promote your business
As a marketing communications consultant, I’m out and about talking to businesses like yourself. Some are cutting back on marketing because they believe that they can’t afford it. This is alarming for two reasons. Firstly, new customers or prospects won’t find you or learn about the marvellous services that you offer. Secondly, customers who market in a recession will be in a better position on the other side of the big R.
I’m dedicating this article to every small business owner out there – because I’d like each of you to get serious about marketing your businesses & communicating with your customer base. There are many ways to get your message out there in the public domain that doesn’t cost you anything or if it does, it’s a minimum cost.
You are rich in resources. Now, more than ever, is the time to use your resources to promote your business.
7 Ways to Market your Business – Using your Internal Resources
1. Action your Clever Ideas
Everyone of you has great ideas….regularly! You know those ideas that pop into your head when you hear a radio programme, when you’re conversing with others, when you read a newspaper, those are your clever ideas. You just need to action them.
A client of mine that runs a bar recently had one of those ‘ah-ha’ moments. They spent €300 on leaflets, man power and complimentary beverages. They made at least €3,500 on the night with the potential of more as they had happy customers leave the building.
2. Get whiteboard or flipchart
A whiteboard is unlike blackboards of school days. They don’t engender fear of writing 100 lines!!! (Although maybe I’ll tell everyone to write 100 lines of the following – ‘I must keep marketing’)
Back to the subject at hand. A whiteboard is invaluable, as is a flip chart. Why? It allows brainstorming, it offers the people gathered around it the headspace to be creative. Even if there are just one or two of you – you’ll notice the difference. Most of us are visual people – we learn visually, we think visually. The whiteboard or flipchart encourages creativity. You can also use it to plan to implement your creative ideas.
3. Do some PR
If you have a good story, make use of it. Like all things in marketing, creativity (and integrity is key). Write a great headline. I will admit that it is easier said than done, but that being said, it can be done. (and you could always get a copy of the 31 days to write better copy to help you!)
Write down the main points of the story. Write down the really exciting bit about your story. That will help with creating the headline. Think What, Why, Who, Where and When when you write your press release.
Don’t forget photos. Great photos make great PR too. People will always look at photos so use them!
4. Undertake a Customer Survey
I’ve said it many times before but the information and resource that is your customer database is invaluable.
I’ve seen the fantastic results when businesses ask the following questions of their customers:
1.What are we good at?
2.How can we improve?
3.Do you know someone who you could refer us to?
I’ve done this survey several times now with myself and with clients and it has been great. Great for testimonials, great for feedback that and great for a morale boost.
Get talking to your customers if only to keep them buying from you. It’s often said employees are your best asset but your customers are. Without them, there is no business and there are no employees!
5. Get out Networking
This is a great way to get to know people. It’s time-consuming but worth it. People do business with people they know and like. The quickest way to get to know people is to meet them face to face.
There are many tips to get the most out of networking but in my experience, there is one key tip. When going to a networking event, go with a plan. Be prepared. Know what your purpose of going to the event is – whether it is to meet 5 people, whether it is to meet a person in a particular industry or whether it is purely social.
Another way to look at networking is to look at the people that you know and see what their network is. How many of you have told your family, close friends, college friends, school friends about your business, the type of clients that you’re looking for and do they know anyone that you could talk to?
If you haven’t done that – do it now. You’ll be amazed at the results.
6. Change your Website Content
If you are not getting customers or prospects through your website – change it. It’s obviously not working. Whatever your purpose of your website – be in online sales, conversions, brochureware – change it if its not working.
While on the online topic, there are many ways to promote your business online – blogging, email newsletters, twitter, linkedin, facebook, article writing, google ads, myspace, slideshare, youtube – you’re only limited by your imagination, not your budget!
7. Make Strategic Alliances
This is somewhat related to point no. 5 although each point is stand-alone. Identify people who are useful for your business and who have services that are complimentary to yours. These are ideal strategic alliance prospects.
If you’re a solo entrepreneur doing accounts, then perhaps an outsource payroll company and a book-keeping company would be ideal for you. The three companies could set up a power group that can refer business to each other.
Strategic alliances are built on trust but what a great way to get to know more people that complement your service.
1. Don’t ignore the clever ideas. Write them down and action them
2. Get creative by using visual aids
3. Get some press coverage of your great stories
4. Ask your customers for feedback
5. Use your close family and friends’ network to get more business
6 Look at your website statistics and decide whether your website is working or not for you
7 Identify providers of complimentary services and arrange a meeting
If you engage and implement ideas from these seven topics, then you are well on the way to getting more customers. It’s really as simple as that. It’s all about action.
Share here any other ideas that you have which you use to market your businesss or communicate with your customers. A rising tide raises all ships…so lets help each other.