The holiday season is over, and you’re gearing up to make this a record year of sales, but you’re a small business working with a shoestring marketing budget. So how can you create marketing campaigns that boost your revenue and blow your competition away, without breaking the bank? No matter how much you’ve got to spend on marketing, the following are inexpensive, yet impactful ways to gain maximum exposure for your business.
If you’ve previously advertised on Facebook by posting info on your business page and then letting the promotion filter into your News Feed, you will see this feature gradually go away. Facebook is pushing companies to purchase advertising through Facebook for Business, to reduce the amount of overly promotional page posts in users’ News Feeds. Don’t think you can afford Facebook ads because of a limited budget? Create posts that are more focused on sharing info that is of real value to customers. This will create opportunities to educate and engage your audience. You can additionally maximize these opportunities by posting photos and videos on Instagram or Pinterest and then cross-posting on Facebook.
Facebook is the most popular social network, but there are plenty of others that can be equally utilized to promote your brand and engage customers. Whether it’s Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, the key is to know how to interact on each platform. LinkedIn and Google+ are also becoming quite popular as professional social networks where people can share in group discussions and leverage content that positions them as industry thought leaders. LinkedIn provides the ability to insert a free banner ad of sorts on your company page.
Email campaigns provide a cost-effective way to market to customers as frequently as you would like, without having to wait on the delivery time of standard mail. Sometimes you want to promote a limited-time offer, and this is a great way to do it. Additionally, it’s a way to connect with customers who you may not be able to reach by phone or who don’t visit your business frequently. Unlike direct mail, email marketing campaigns can be automated so your message is delivered to customers’ inboxes on the exact day and time of your choice, making it an especially effective method for boosting short-term sales.
Industry Conferences and Tradeshows
The price of a tradeshow booth and taking valuable staff away from your business may seem unjustifiable, but the potential customers that you can gain from these events may be well worth the time and expense. Whether your goal is to promote your business on a local or national level, expos are a great way to gain exposure for your products and services. If you’re able to present a relevant industry topic when these tradeshows are attached to a conference, whether it is for a main session or a break out, this provides an additional opportunity for you to promote your company’s expertise.
Presentations and Speaking Engagements
Networking at conferences is great, but there are many other opportunities to do this on a smaller scale, while still achieving a similar impact. Sharing your knowledge at professional industry association events, or educating students on the ins and outs of being an entrepreneur are all ways to share your market knowledge and subtly promote your business, potentially leading to partnerships in the future.
Demonstrations and Courses
Everyone loves a free coupon or flyer, but inviting people to come in and learn something they can do on their own can leave more of a lasting impression. Whether it is a cooking class where you show people how to incorporate your renowned sauces or beers, or even how they can make their own homemade spa products, this is an effective way to engage current and prospective customers. Keep in mind too that not all demonstrations have to be live and in person. Webinars, videos and other digital presentations (on platforms such as YouTube or SlideShare) are also effective promotional tools.
Community Outreach and Philanthropy
A successful business is not just about maintaining consistent revenue and a solid customer base; it is also about giving back to the individuals that have patronized your business and helped it prosper. Never miss out on a chance to help the community that you’re a part of. A simple event sponsorship, donation, joint partnership with another local establishment, or volunteering a few hours are all great ways to give back to the community. Keep an ear out for any local causes that resonate with your customer base.
Two is always better than one, and that same principle applies when partnering with other businesses on mutually beneficial endeavors. Collaborating on a specific effort, or an ongoing series of initiatives, provides the opportunity for you to access additional audiences and potential customers that you might not ordinarily reach.
Public relations is not marketing, but it complements marketing by disseminating positive messaging about your company, making your customers more receptive to doing business with you. Whether it’s a published article, a radio or TV segment, or coverage of a speaking engagement, public relations is an effective way to promote and bring additional exposure to your business.
No matter how you decide to market in 2015, it really isn’t about how much you spend, but rather using multiple channels to engage your customer base.