Operating a small business is no small feat. Many small business owners will attest that they learn to wear many hats, and a lot of what happens throughout the day is just trial and error until they figure out and implement the best practices.
Of the various hats a small business owner wears, marketing is most certainly one of them. Overall, the purpose of marketing is to promote your business and drive sales. A company can offer a great product or service, and some people might even proclaim that their product or service sells itself. However, at some point, you’ll need to promote your business to increase sales. When you recognize your business needs a little push, it’s time to start thinking about marketing.
So, at the mention of the word marketing, did you imagine all your money flying out the window? While adequately marketing your business isn’t cheap (marketing should account for approximately 7-8% of small business expenses) there are strategies you can use to get creative and ensure the most bang for your buck. Keep reading to uncover six simple—and inexpensive—marketing ideas for small businesses!
1: Online Marketing
Small business owners are quick to recognize the importance of online marketing, to increase awareness of their business, and consequently drive sales. While having an active and updated business website is a must, it’s not the only way to market your business online.
Here are three of the top ways to market your business online:
- Business Website – As mentioned, the first thing you need to make sure you have is your business website. A few of the most important components of a business website include good design, a clear call to action (show the customers what you want them to do), and a story page.
- Social Media – A decade ago having a social media profile for your business seemed like an afterthought for marketing. Today, actively operating social media profiles have become a top priority, with entire positions created in some companies to appropriately manage the task. Be sure to establish a presence on as many social media sites as you can, depending on the appropriateness related to your business. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest are all great places to make your business visible.
- Digital Coupons – The digital coupon is often a commonly-overlooked way of using online marketing to your advantage. Digital coupon sites like Groupon and Living Social are a great marketing idea for small business. To put it in perspective, Groupon boasts funding to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year. So, if you are not utilizing digital coupons as a way to market, you could be missing out on a lot of business.
2: Mail Marketing
In the digital world we live in, it’s important not to underestimate the existence of the physical world. There are still many people who make purchasing choices based on traditional direct mail marketing. That’s right—they go to the mailbox, read a flyer, and reach out to the company who put out the advertisement.
Remember, older generations and people who might not be as technologically savvy are more likely to see the flyers that arrive in the mail. So, don’t underestimate the potential of direct mail marketing! Mail marketing is still a relevant marketing tool for your small business. So, consider your audience and decide if this strategy is appropriate for you.
Another use of traditional mail, without the expense of mail marketing by canvassing areas, is to focus on existing customers. If you target only the customers who have previously purchased from you, then you will help increase your likelihood of gaining repeat customers. Just be sure to get addresses at the point of sale, so you’ll quickly have a database of customers to target.
3: Sidewalk Signs
Believe it or not, dressing an employee in a chicken suit and instructing him to stand on a hot street corner to toss a sign in the air actually increases traffic to businesses. Sign spinning is an inexpensive and creative way to grab the attention of passersby, and many businesses are turning to this tactic. There are even companies who offer this as something your business can outsource, so your own employees don’t have to worry about being the one stuck in a chicken suit.
If you cringe at the idea of someone standing on a busy intersection flipping your business logo into the air, there are classier and more discreet options—while still serving the purpose of marketing your business. Consider getting a blackboard sign and chalk paint and writing about sales using calligraphy. This is a nice alternative to printing a sign for the window or having a chicken stand on the corner. Just make sure to have the style of your sign align with the type of business you operate.
4: Vehicle Advertising
One easy—and inexpensive—idea for marketing small businesses is to use something people see all day every day: your vehicle! If you cringe at the thought of a custom paint job with your company logo and contact information (which can be nearly permanent and also expensive), consider options such as wrapping, decals, or magnets.
Vehicle wrapping is a way to cover your entire car with graphics and advertising. It’s also easy to remove the wrap and return your vehicle to its previous condition. You can quickly and easily apply decals to windows, or you can adhere magnets to the exterior of a car. Just don’t be surprised if a person rolls down his window at a stoplight to ask you for more information about your business!
When you think about radio advertising, you might be thinking about your local radio DJ putting his spin on local companies. While that’s one way to advertise via radio, there is also another way: advertising via music streaming stations. Music streaming is wildly popular, so snagging a space on Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio, to name a few, is a great way to reach those listeners stuck in long commutes, or who like to whistle while they work.
6: Online Articles
Creating a blog that is embedded within your company’s website is another easy marketing idea for small businesses. If you already have a site, you already have a platform, and from there you can easily link the blog to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
One unique way of advertising is to write articles for websites that will publish your content (i.e., https://www.thefreelibrary.com/), and then include a backlink to your site. Not only does this strategy allow you to expertly represent your field by publishing quality content on certain topics, but it also gives you an opportunity to drive traffic to your business.
Trial and Error
Regardless of which method you choose for your business, remember there is no simple formula for getting it right. There are, however, many marketing ideas for small businesses, so be sure to keep trying different strategies until you find something that works for you. Before long, you will begin seeing those marketing dollars pay off. Just don’t forget to ask customers how they heard about you, so you know first-hand which strategies are most effective.