An important part of running a business is making sure your customers know who you are and what you do. There are many ways you can market your business and it doesn’t necessarily need to cost a lot of money. Many small business owners don’t have the money for a paid advertising campaign or to employ others to do their marketing for them. This may be the case for you if you’re about to start trading or have just recently started. Let’s look at some ways you may be able to market your business, without it leaving a large dent in your budget.
Send a press release to local newspapers and radio.
Don’t assume that you will be charged for this. Some media outlets may offer to give you coverage for free. For instance, have you considered contacting your local hospital radio?
Build a website.
You don’t necessarily need to pay a third person to build your website. Take some time to search online, you will find plenty of guides to assist you in creating your own website for free or a small fee.
Use social media.
Using social media to advertise your business is a fast way of reaching a large audience. Think about how to get people to like and share your page. Are you going to run a promotion or competition? Are you offering discounts if customers interact with you? By running a successful social media campaign, you have the means to reach your customers instantly and interact with them, and to display your products and services.
Using search engine optimisation (SEO).
If you have a website, then you will need to think about optimising your pages to ensure you are accessible via search engines. Without using SEO, your customer may not be able to find you easily, or you may not appear at all in search results. There are lots of online resources you can read to help you understand this.
Having customer reviews on your public profiles, such media account or website is an important part of advertising your services. New customers will often want to see that you provide a reliable and quality service.
This involves two or more businesses mutually promoting each other’s business. For example, you might go into a coffee shop and eat a pastry that was made in a local bakery. The coffee shop owners make their customers aware of where they can purchase other baked goods from the bakery. In return, the bakery owners tell their own customers that they can visit the coffee shop which sells their goods.
Making it personal.
Consider wearing clothes personalised with the name of your business. Whilst this isn’t technically free, as you will have some initial costs, it’s a great way to get your name known. Other ways to do this could be car stickers/magnets (check with your car insurance that you can do this), keyrings, pens, mousepads, reusable water bottles, reusable bags etc.
There are many other different methods that a business may want to consider, for instance, business directories, networking, word of mouth or a text/email campaign.
Don’t assume that you shouldn’t have a marketing plan though. You should still be setting objectives and analysing the results of your marketing campaign. You need to consider how much time you have spent on your marketing, is this time that you could have spent better elsewhere? Your marketing plan should also have clear deadlines to leave time for measurement and analysis so that you can see what is working and what isn’t.
Looking for some more info? Come along to one of our events where you can get more in depth advice.
Thanks to Business Support Helpline for the content! There's lots of business support advice on their full blog.