Clever Marketing Does Not Need To Always Be Expensive.
Small Business owners seldom have the budget for glitzy or high profile marketing and advertising. Small Business marketing often needs to be as unique and specialized as the business it represents. Here are a few tips for Marketing on a budget.
1. Get On Board With Your Local Press. Most local news outlets have resources available for the local small business community:
- 1. You can go with a standard ad.
- 2. A classified ad (billed per word).
- 3. Issue a press release. A press release is a great way to get free exposure in the local media.
Check with your local papers and see what they have in place.
2. Support A Local Charity Or Campaign. This is something businesses should do either way, however by getting on board with community initiatives you can get a great deal of (positive) free exposure.
You gain terrific PR, build relationships within the local community and lend support to those in need. This is the type of Marketing that truly builds a brand.
3. Sponsor A Local Sports Team. This refers back to supporting local charities or campaigns. It is an excellent way to boost community relations and branding. Just about any amateur team would be glad to don your logo for the cost of a jersey.
It can be a great way to build contacts and good will with parents, athletes and athletics supporters.
4. Local & Online Business Directories. The Yellow Pages are still a consistent resource for most local consumers. Many communities will also have their own local business directory. These can be inexpensive means with which to ensure consistent exposure, primarily to people looking for local and specific services.
There is an slew of online directories available as well, however these should be researched and explored according to their relevance for your industry, your geographic region and their results in search engines.
5. Use Free Cork/Bulletin Boards. The one caution with this, is to be mindful of how an ad and its placement portrays a business and brand. One can place a printed ad on almost any community cork board – typically free of charge – however they need to be mindful of how it represents the company.
- Make sure it is a professional and clean ad – it should portray professionalism and associate the business with experience.
- Place it nicely – square it up, fasten the corners, keep it neat. Don’t slap a thumbtack off centre and call it a day – that looks shoddy.
- Make it catchy – corkboards fill up fast and typically wind up cluttered. The ad needs to stand out and grab attention.
- Monitor it – It will eventually wind up behind other posts and ad’s. If this happens it will look dated. Cycle it out with new ad’s to keep it fresh and ensure it is at the top. Many billboard owners like a date placed somewhere on the ad to indicate it’s age (this enables them to clear dated posts) work with them and help them maintain the board.
6. Hand Out Business Cards To Everyone. In the age of online and social media, printed mediums are still highly relevant and nothing reinforces your word-of-mouth campaign like business cards. They are inexpensive and easy to keep on your person at all times.
Typically they print in groups of 250, 500, 1000, 2000 – with costs being reduced with each increase in quantity. Keep in mind that 250 cards can last a long time, so do not be afraid to hand them out and hand out more than one. When we meet with clients we will typically hand them three or four cards, this provides for their misplacing them or handing them out to colleagues.
Business cards are one of those items you want to revise every once in awhile. Hand them out while they are fresh and you will not have a bunch of obsolete cards when you revise your information.
7. Let Fly The Flyers! Going back to the relevance of printed materials, a flyer is a great (inexpensive) way to draw attention from the local community. Included in papers, door to door, or exchanged with other businesses along with business cards – they can increase brand awareness and draw attention to your services.
This ties in nicely with posting free Corkboard ad’s as flyer’s can be utilized also for this purpose.
8. Product Placement / Venue Exchanges. Brand yourself publicly at events and venues with product and logo placement.
Example: If you are a DJ make sure you have a banner, flyers, business cards and wear a shirt with your logo – brand yourself to the public. The amount of business that can be procured at a wedding, by a good photographer or DJ is incredible. Don’t ruin the wedding by networking, but be prepared if guests come to you for information.
9. Hand Out Branded Swag! Whatever your budget may be, there is a Merchandising manufacturer out there that can accommodate, so get some merch’ and hand it out! Useful items like pens, shirts, hats, mugs etc. will get used and make their way around.
As with all other materials, put some thought into type of “swag” that matters to your industry and have some fun making it. The more creative and relevant the merchandise, the more likely it will see use.
People love gifts, it is a great way to establish relations and create a positive experience for your clients. As with business cards, hand them out frequently and freely.
(Hint: Make sure the pens are decent quality – shoddy pens quickly find their way to the bottom of the bin)
10. Decal Your Vehicle. Hank Yarbo of late Corner Gas fame exemplifies this concept in a rather unique way with his “Hank Board”
A personal vehicle is literally a moving canvas. Brand it with decals and graphics and it effectively becomes a billboard wherever you find yourself. There are a number of businesses that offer this service – the price versus the advertising exposure makes this a top value option.
11. Advertising On Public Transit. Depending on the communities mass transit infrastructure, there can be many advertising spaces available in buses, taxis and trains. Check with your local transit authorities, these spaces can be surprisingly inexpensive.
12. Join Online Networking Communities. LinkedIn is likely the top source for these type of groups. By connecting with groups relevant to specific industries and the local community, one can gain both, an audience and dialogue opportunities.
13. Trade Shows. Local trade shows can be a great way to boost both, customer awareness and client engagement. For the price of a booth or table, one gains the opportunity to network with relevant, and local, small business groups and individuals.
14. Socialize With Media (Social Media). Blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, there are numerous online avenues that (at no charge) provide the opportunity to increase online presence and engage customers, both current and potential.
15. Reward Your Current Customers. Build goodwill with the current customer base and the word of mouth campaign will pay back the efforts a thousand times over. Offer incentives, “swag” (see tip 9) and insider info.
16. Web Updates. Basic web updates can be a great, cost effective way to keep customers interested and coming back. Fresh content, news and designs are the means for consistent engagement. One should never underestimate the value of increasing online traffic and engaging the online audience.
No matter what size the business, customers need to be communicated with. There are many inexpensive and effective marketing avenues available – if you know where to look.
Small Businesses have several key advantages over their larger competitors. Recognizing and leveraging them can drastically impact success.