The recent pandemic has hit many local businesses hard and your business is most likely feeling the affects from the shutdowns and mandates. Even with the times being harder it is critical to the survival of your business to continue to market and advertise so you have the ability to gain new customers/clients so your revenue and business can continue to grow. Marketing and advertising can be quite an expense to your business, yet there are some ways that your business can spread the word about your products/services and let the local community know you are open.
One of the most reliable and free ways to gain new customers/clients is to ask your current customers/clients to refer your business to anyone they know. It is reported that 92% of consumers will invest in a product or service if it is recommended to them by family/friends, etc. If you are a services business just checking in with your clients and at the end asking, “Do you know of any who could use our services?”
Allow you client to ponder and they may not be able to give you an answer right away, but your business will be top of mind when they do run into someone who is in need. Posting signs in your business asking for referrals can be helpful, but the best way to get them will be to ask your current customers/clients. Your business should pinpoint who the “cheerleaders” or those who are big advocates of your business for referrals. You can also offer incentives such as a free product, discount, etc. for referrals.
With 72% of consumers stating they prefer being contacted by email by a business and 91% wanting businesses they buy from to email them promotions this is one of the best ways to stay in contact with current customers/clients and leads for a low-cost or even for free.
Certain email marketing tools, such as MailChimp, offers a free version of the email marketing plan if your business is on a tight budget. Email marketing allows you the ability in keeping your brand “top of mind” when your customers and leads are ready to make a purchase.
You can utilize your email marketing to send out any sales or promotions you are doing for the month as well as any information that can help your audience, such as how the new tax laws will affect their business or tax returns, if your business is an accounting firm. Make sure not to “over-send” emails as bombarding their inbox with a lot of emails can cause those in your list to unsubscribe and no longer buy from your business. Keep it to a maximum of one to two emails per month.
Offering a free seminar or event can help bring a lot of awareness to your business in your local community. Have your business host a free seminar or class that provides education to your target market will help your business become a thought leader and trusted advisor for your ideal customer/client which helps them to have trust as your business will be providing them with value whether it is helpful to their business or personal lives. Some cost-effective ways to get the word out would-be hanging flyers in your local community or placing some flyers in your local chamber of commerce newsletter (if you are a member) or even in the local newspaper.
This is a great way to promote and increase your business sales by rewarding your top customers and clients for being loyal. Your business can invest in creating loyalty cards where if they make a certain amount of purchases and visits, they can receive a free item or free item for their birthday; make sure to choose a free item that costs your business little money to make so you are not losing a fair share of revenue. Your customers are more likely to spend more money when they know they are getting something for free; if they are at dinner and get a free dessert you may lose $4 for the free dessert but you are making twice that as they will order wine, appetizers, etc. that they normally wouldn’t if didn’t have the dessert.
For the services business, rewarding your clients by perhaps giving them a discount for a month of services or offering them a new service for a discount or free trial.
It can be more cost-effective for your business to host a webinar, especially if you do not have a large enough space to hold any seminars. You are also able to reach more leads by hosting webinars are you are not as restricted with spaces, especially during these challenging times with COVID-19. Similar to the events, your business will be providing something of value to them with education that can help you become the “go-to business” in the industry.
Some easy ways to spread the word about a webinar would be on your website and social media, especially with Facebook and Instagram ads.
Working with your fellow business owners can help promote and grow both of your businesses. Team up with one or more local business owners in a variety of industries and place them on a referral list, so when they come into contact with someone in need of your products or services, they can refer you. For the best possible results, you should focus on working with businesses that have the same target market as you do such as a restaurant working with a local bakery where one sells savory foods and the bakery can make the desserts. You do not have to only work with businesses that share your same target market, it sometimes can be just as successful working with those who have a different market but connects in different ways with your target market.
Do not be afraid of working with businesses who do the same work as you; sometimes you or them may be too full of clients to take on more or your business may not do exactly what they specialize in and vice versa, so you can cross-refer clients to one another.
Having your business give back to the local community will not only help spread awareness of your business but will also make your and your employees feel great in giving back to your neighbors and friends. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen to help feed those in need or donate money to scholarships to help the younger generation achieve their educational needs; you can even join your local chamber and float the idea of a new grant or scholarship to give to the community.
Have any leftovers from the end of the day? Don’t throw them out, but donate them to a local food pantry or give them out to customers or even your neighbors if you are in a plaza with other businesses.
Social media is usually the first marketing channel that businesses use in order to promote their brand and showcase their products/services. Even with many small businesses usually starting out their marketing with social media channels, many will not establish or maintain it correctly. Are you currently running your social media under your brand or are you switching between your business and personal profiles?
Is your business social media suffering from you lacking the time to consistently maintain it by posting regularly while responding and engaging with your followers? If not, your business may benefit from investing in a local marketing agency to take over your social media and other marketing activities.
As a business there are times, such as the ones we are in, where you will need to adapt and create some marketing strategies that will benefit your business while remaining in your limited budget. There are a number of ways your business can market without spending a large amount of your cash; networking is a great option and even word of mouth marketing, so make sure your customer service has been great so more of your customers/clients will refer you. Marketing is always one of the most crucial components in keeping your business alive and remaining profitable whether you are able to spend a large amount of money on it or need more cost-effective ideas. Take advantage of some of these strategies and even come up with some low-cost ideas by possibly looking to partner with all-types of business, non-profits, etc.