Most small businesses plans don’t include the cost of a marketing agency to help promotional efforts. Reaching out to and retaining customers is one of the biggest pain points for small businesses. While costly and time consuming, it should still be a priority. Fortunately, there are ways to do it yourself.
Create or revive your accounts. If your business isn’t on social media, or if the account isn’t very active, you’re missing out on a huge free marketing opportunity. You should already have a solid idea of who your customers are and what they like. Use your social media accounts to showcase yourself. Tight on time? At the very least, start with Facebook and Twitter.
Create buzz. For example, say you own a restaurant and business is slow. You can create your own publicity campaign by creating the largest burger or burrito your city has ever seen. Then challenge customers to come in and eat it. This has been done before, but you get the idea.
Image is everything. We are such a visual culture. These days, it’s all about high quality media that’s eye catching and beautiful. Make sure the photos/videos you post online are high quality and represent your business image in the best way. Nothing screams “unprofessional” more than blurry, lackluster photos.
Create a compelling story around your customers
Leverage your happy customers. There are a variety of ways you can do this effectively. One way to encourage them to create buzz about you is to offer incentives for them to share their positive experiences with your company on review sites like Yelp, Google, or to their social media accounts. If enough people are talking about you online for the right reasons, it can be a very powerful marketing tool.
Create a story. Consider how your business or product affects your customers. For example, if you own a construction company and you routinely do remodels, think if there is anything special there. Was there a particularly unique remodel that enabled another business or person to do something extraordinary? Always be on the lookout for a compelling story to tell.
Craft a pitch. First rule to interaction with media is to have something interesting to say. Ask yourself if you would read a story about you, your product or campaign. If not, chances are the reporter won’t find it interesting either. Try to craft it around how it impacts the local economy or your industry. This is where tapping into creativity will go a long way.
Do your research. Find out which publications/writers cover your industry. Look at what they’ve written in the past and what they currently cover. You want to offer up a fresh angle that will get attention.
Interact online. Interactions with local media can be facilitated through social media as well. Most editors have Twitter accounts. A trick that PR pros use to engage editors is by retweeting their tweets and mentioning them in posts of interest. Couple this tactic with reaching out via email and you are halfway there. Remember, only reach out if you have something compelling to say and persistence is key.
Start a newsletter. Email is still one of the most effective tools for lead generation. Start a newsletter highlighting company news or specials you are offering. There are affordable options like Mailchimp, and Constant Contact among several others. Just make sure you are giving recipients something useful.
Be entertaining. To make sure your newsletter is successful, use tactics to pique interest. Otherwise it’s just one more email clogging up an already full inbox. Add an interactive element. Include a customer spotlight edition or feature a fun poll. Create a “best of” section of things that your customers may find interesting and useful.
Do Good Deeds
Align with a great cause. Generally, people feel good when they effect change or take part in a movement, especially if it means a purchase they make does both. Consider the shoe company Tom’s and their “One for One” slogan. They’ve successfully built partnerships with the motivation that with every purchase, they will donate shoes and help in many other areas for those in need.
Stay Local. While they are a far reaching international brand, you can still do this on a local scale. For example: construction businesses can check out Habitat for Humanity. For restaurants, check out local food banks or homeless/women’s shelters and so on. The world needs more good deeds and it’s a heartwarming way to increase your visibility.
Marketing is a necessary evil for the busy business owner, but it doesn’t have to take a chunk out of the budget. These are some simple jumping points to start in order to do it yourself. As your business expands down the road, you may then consider bringing in professional services to keep track of it all and then some.