by Julia Woods
The expenses of running your small business are ongoing, and some days, a huge struggle.
Often more money going out than coming in.
Let’s be real, it’s a balancing act that’s making you crazy. You understand marketing will bring in more customers, but how when cash flow is an issue?
You find fantastic marketing ideas googling, but all with big dollar signs. Your left wondering, “Aren’t there any strategies I can do for free or won’t send me broke?”
What if I told you free opportunities exist for small business marketing that still draws in paying customers?
You can grow today through digital and traditional marketing strategies that won’t cost you a bomb.
Marketing is about you and your offers to the world. You can create a killer marketing strategy without emptying your pockets. Excited?
Don’t start with Paid Advertising!
When most people consider marketing, they think of paid advertisements, radio, newspapers or television commercials.
Traditional advertising isn’t as effective as people imagine.
Let’s be honest, paying for advertising may be helpful to your overall marketing plan. You can wait until your cash flow is better. When you can afford up to $10 a day, then it’s worth considering Facebook, Instagram or Google AdWords. Check out 3 Cost Effective Small Business Advertising Ideas
We’ll focus on options where you don’t have to put your hand in your pocket.
So, let’s look at free ideas for small business marketing.
Why It’s Time to Rewrite Your Small Business Marketing Plan …
Your marketing strategies are the perfect way to get potential customers to feel you understand them and to see you as the perfect person to help them.
Having a solid small business marketing plan—even one page—is an essential first step to stay on track and be effective.
UNIQUE SELLING POINT (USP) WILL SET YOU APART
You’re unique, and so are your customers. Your customers are looking for a solution to their problem. They want to know how you can help them.
Your unique selling point makes you shine, makes you different from your competitors and makes you the single, best solution for your customers’ problem.
Your unique selling point is inspired by your mission and vision.
Your mission is your purpose, your reason for what you do and how you do it.
Your vision is the shining ideal that keeps you going, your dream goal and how you want to impact the world.
The best way to write your unique selling point is to keep it clear, concise, and useful (inform—focus—guide).
SET YOUR GOALS: WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?
Having clear SMART marketing goals will help you discover what’s working. This allows you to refine your approach.
So what makes your goals SMART?
- Specific — clear-cut and detailed
- Measurable — so you know you have achieved it
- Attainable — realistic and possible to reach
- Relevant — it addresses a key outcome you want overall.
- Time framed — date to reach your goal.
Match your business and marketing goals to create your small business marketing strategy. This way you can double down on your effort and success.
THE BENEFITS OF RECOGNIZING YOUR AUDIENCE
One of the most common mistakes small business make marketing is trying to appeal to everyone. They end up appealing to no one. Hell, I know you don’t care about ideal customers at this point just any paying customer will do!
Targeting your marketing to people YOU want to work with, that will MOST enjoy your help will see you have greater success.
Knowing your ideal customers helps you get even customers because you can show you understand them. You can position yourself as the answer to their problems. This makes your small business marketing so much easier because you can focus on where you need to be.
CHOOSE YOUR MARKETING AVENUES CAREFULLY
Your marketing strategy will depend on where your potential customers are and how to reach them.
There are endless opportunities for free marketing – both online and locally. Your next paying customer is waiting, let’s go see where you can find them!
FREE ONLINE MARKETING FOR SMALL BUSINESS
With the rise of technology and people researching products and services, it’s important to position yourself online.
Most people will check out a business’ website and social media to decide their credibility.
I’m not going to kid you, building your business online can be TOUGH. It’s one reason so many small businesses put it off. But it’s how YOU can get ahead of your competitors and woo your ideal customers.
Online marketing is not a set and
BRICKS AND MORTAR ONLINE
Websites are a perfect way to claim your space. They can appear expensive, but there’s an option for every budget, even free. Check out Best free web hosting of 2019 or the low-down on great free options.
SOCIAL MEDIA – YOUR CHALLENGE IS TO FIND YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMER!
Social media is the place to be and perfect online marketing for small businesses. Great news, social media is free.
You need to be active and engage at regular time intervals. Social media influencers can be a great way to grow your brand awareness. Be aware, some charge. There are influencers who love collaborating with like-minded small businesses for free.
Not all social media platforms are equal.
A Facebook business page is essential for any small business. For ongoing success, you must engage, Facebook groups are great for this.
The real power of Twitter is as an immediate news channel to keep up with what is happening in dynamic industries. It’s great if you do lots of new releases or launches.
LinkedIn is perfect to connect with business professionals, customers, mentors, and peers.
Instagram as a visual social media platform is perfect for brand awareness where you have visually appealing products.
Pinterest is also a visual platform and is great for ‘how-to’ or if your target audience is women.
YouTube is great for small businesses with a ‘how-to’ element. You can share YouTube videos across your other social media accounts.
Social media is all about engagement and developing connections, otherwise, don’t bother.
Are you thinking, ‘I don’t have time for ALL THIS?’ That’s okay, even if you start with one. To figure out where it’s best to spend your social media time consider:
- What do you want to achieve? e.g. brand awareness, lead generation, engagement
- Who and where are your target customers hanging out?
- What are your competitors using?
- What time and/or money can you dedicate to social media?
Digital in 2019 is great to help you identify the best platform for your social media marketing.
CONTENT IS KING
Content Marketing is a great way to increase your visibility!
It’s your job to understand what they are searching for and create content that fixes their problem. Well-written content is where people come to know, like and trust you.
You can change and re-use any content you develop. You can use content marketing in your:
- Blog sites like Medium
- Sales Funnel Scripts
- Tenders and Grants
- Product Descriptions and packaging
- Social media
- Mail and email
- Column or articles in trade magazines etc
You can even use reviews and testimonials by satisfied customers as content.
A CRASH COURSE IN SEO
If you want your content to be found and you do, you need a basic understanding of SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Basically, SEO is how people get to your online presence from search engines. Honestly, it’s just two things
- Document Relevancy — Every search engine asks two questions
- What’s best for our users?
- What’s best for our business?
If your content answers one of these questions, then it’s relevant!
2. Technical Optimization and Increasing authority — this includes the engineering that makes it easier for search engines to find your content. Basically, are you popular, trustworthy and useful? This is measured by:
- Links from authoritative sites
- Clicks and engagement
- Video Views
YOU’VE GOT MAIL
Emails and newsletters are great ways to share updates, ‘how-to’, tips and tricks. This means when your potential customers are looking for a solution you are top of their mind.
Who doesn’t enjoy getting mail?
The trick is to not be spammy and boring.
Email marketing is highly effective when done well. It offers a range of key benefits for your small business marketing goals:
- Free option
- Successful at converting to paying customers
- Return on investment is great
- Easy to track outcomes and results
- Able to be automated so you can sit back, relax and let the system do the hard work for you
With almost 4 billion people emailing daily it is a great way to communicate professionally, just make sure you send effective emails by considering these pointers:
- Always use a subject line – be descriptive and short.
- Use a professional greeting
- Keep It Short and Simple! – Avoid long, complicated sentences or paragraphs. So important information can be identified immediately, use bullet points.
- Be careful with ALL CAPITAL letters, abbreviations, and emojis.
- Be careful of sarcasm,
humorand language. Following their lead ensures you won’t accidentally offend them
- Attachments – Indicate somewhere in your email you’ve included an attachment, so your recipient doesn’t overlook it.
- Proofread your email
Networking as a Marketing Tool
Without customers, you have a hobby, not a business. Success in small business comes from making connections.
As is commonly said, ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know.’
“83% of Americans say that a word of mouth recommendation from a friend or family member makes them more likely to purchase that product or service.”~ Chatter Matters: The 2018 Word of Mouth Report
You can start by contacting people you already have connections with, family and friends, staff or current customers, to expand your connections and networks.
Networking is the real game for building new connections, whether that is online or face-to-face.
When networking, be conversational. You want to build true connections, not just sell at people. Otherwise, your words can become an inner monologue. That can be as boring as hell! And will turn people away faster than you saying the wrong things.
It’s important to keep in mind what your intention is. Is it to grow your business network? Are you wanting to connect with potential customers?
Understanding your goal will help you decide the place and the event that is most suitable for your networking efforts.
LEVERAGE LOCAL BUSINESS NETWORKS
So you are finding yourself well-connected online, but missing face-to-face interactions among other business people, why not take it offline and attend the latest in-thing #LinkedInLocal
Let’s face it, meeting people face-to-face is powerful for building new relationships.
When wanting to build your business connections, head off to business events. Attending local events is a great way to grow your business networks. This could include:
- your local Chamber of Business;
- business breakfasts;
- industry-specific events;
Even consider applying for a business award to raise your profile.
By connecting with other businesses locally, you can work together to increase opportunities, generate referrals, cross-promote and add value to each other’s business.
Affiliate marketing is another great way to expand your sphere of influence and can free up your time for other needs in your business.
Don’t forget the value of word-of-mouth referrals from staff and current customers.
Consider sending free or discounted products and services to online influencers, and potential business connections in your industry to develop collaborations and partnerships.
Where do Customers hide?
If you want to connect with potential local customers consider free local marketing ideas such as local events, PR stunts, give-away samples and trials.
Whichever you choose, make sure it benefits your objectives as a business.
By remembering to truly understand your customers’ problems and life goals, you can take your short term marketing goals into a lifelong connection that will keep giving.
If you run a local small business when networking and marketing in your local area consider do-it-yourself business cards and flyers to increase your exposure.
LOCAL MARKETING IDEAS: EVENTS
Head to the football, the local sporting event, or the local carnival where you can get yourself seen. Whether it’s as supporting the local community whether it’s by donating goods or services or being seen to be engaged.
So how do you find events? In many cities, there’s an official convention and visitors bureau (CVB), tourist office or State-run ‘welcome centre’ where you can find a list of current and upcoming events.
Keep in mind that in smaller towns where the local chamber of commerce runs the tourist bureau, they often only mention chamber members businesses.
Another way for finding events is Eventbrite, an event calendar or Meetup where you can search by type and price.
LEAD THEM TO WATER…AND GET THEM TO DRINK
Every business has a lead generation process. You just may not call it that! If you started with no clients and you now have clients, you had a lead generation process. If you don’t have clients yet, is anyone interested? Yes, then you have a lead generation process.
Still, don’t know what it is?
Do you have give-away samples or trials? Do you offer coupons? Do you use promotional products to remind people of your small business? Do you host events or classes? These are lead magnets aimed at attracting and exciting your potential customers and are worth considering if you aren’t already using them.
A great lead generation process helps potential customers discover how amazing your product or service is before they buy and become an adoring fan.
Your lead magnet is normally the first product they ever receive from you. The goal is to get people through the door, attract your perfect customer and capture further details so you can build the connection.
The biggest mistake with lead magnets I’ve seen is when a small business is holding back in the fear that the customer will get everything they need and not buy. Let me tell you a secret. If someone can get your free product and get everything they need, then they’re not your target customer.
So, don’t hold back, give them enough value that will blow their minds and make it an easy decision for them to come back for more.
The best DIY Graphics when you don’t have money
“… When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.”https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/visual-content-marketing-strategy
A strong brand identity helps make a strong first and lasting impression.
Marketing assets like letterheads, business cards, social media posts are important to attract potential customers.
Whether you need a logo or other marketing assets, you will need to consider graphics.
If you have a budget, then an expert is a worth considering. However, if you are tight on money to invest, DIY can be a great option.
Even if you are not creative, there are a range of helpful free options available, from copyright-free images to creating infographics to logo development.
Small Business Marketing Automation saves time and money
No matter how much you love running your small business and running your new marketing strategy with all these free options, there will be a point where you realize you can’t do everything.
The only way to avoid time constraints and continue to do what you love is to optimize and systemize – known as Automation.
Automation is software that runs a procedure or process WITHOUT you having to feed it all your valuable time. This means having a process that systemizes and runs in the background with you not having to do the work.
There are many automation solutions, and some are expensive (although may be worth the investment as you grow).
But whilst you have a limited cash flow, consider some great free marketing automations options available.
Importantly, you want to decrease your workload by getting systems that talk to each other and do the hard work for you.
To find the right systems for you, check out The Top 5 Free Marketing Automation Software for Your Small Business or 4 Best Free Marketing Automation Software to Try in 2019
The Bottom Line on Small Business Marketing Strategies
How will you market your small business?
With the range of free options, we’ve discussed for your small business marketing you can get started today (you can also automate, saving time and money!).
No more excuses! You can grow your small business today using these free marketing strategies without you needing to put your hand in your pocket.
You are in a place to succeed. No more anxiety and dwindling bank balance as you attract your dream paying customers.
Even better, they will become your new ambassadors and spread the word about how amazing your small business is…
So whether it’s social media, events or networking….
It’s time to put your new found marketing strategies into action.
You know enough right now to wow your potential new customers.
So don’t keep them waiting any longer.
Choose one of the small business marketing strategies above or combine some ideas and go get your next brand new customer. Then get another. And then another.
Did I miss any free small business marketing that you have found great success with?