Small businesses, without investors, usually need to start from square one and grow organically. A chicken-and-the-egg scenario emerges, whereby a business fails to increase revenues because they lack a marketing budget, which would otherwise be fueled by the revenue that marketing produces.
This dilemma leaves many small business owners scratching their heads and wondering how to reach their target market segments.
Fortunately, because of the Internet and agile marketing practices, we live in an era of infinite leverage. Even if you don’t have the capital to create an exorbitant marketing campaign or buy ad time during the Superbowl, there are still effective ways to stretch your marketing budget.
1. Engage with the Local Community
Engaging with a person face-to-face is one of the most powerful ways to forge interpersonal connections. True enough, face-to-face interactions lack the leverage afforded by other modern marketing channels, such as online paid advertising techniques.
But small businesses most often do business with people in their local area. Take any brick-and-mortar small business, for example. Yes, sales strategies like e-commerce and online sales do account for significant portions of revenue, but more often than not, foot traffic is the foundation of sales for burgeoning businesses.
As such, being an active member of your local community is a pillar of sustainable growth. Festivals, community gatherings, monthly events, art walks, and seasonal gatherings all present opportunities to reach your local community. For example, consider the event Downtown Days in downtown Lee’s Summit, Missouri.
The community gathers for an evening of fun with friends and family, and local small business owners go on the offensive. Instead of waiting for customers to enter their doors, small businesses employ methods to generate buzz and excitement like raffles, give-aways, contests, games, and more. Not only is it a great way to market and establish your business within the community, but it is also a great way to network with other members of the small business community within your area.
2. Social Media
The year 2020 is on our doorstep, and if you haven’t already taken advantage of social media, you’ve sorely missed free marketing opportunities. Many small business owners with thin marketing budgets wrongly assume that the only way to capitalize on social media marketing is with paid advertisements.
But what baseline steps can you take to establish a presence on social media?
First off, you can create a free Facebook business page. Unfortunately, social media isn’t a set-it-and-forget automatic boon for your marketing campaign. A stale business page makes a business look weak, but an active page that regularly responds to inquiries and current events makes your business look more credible.
But Facebook is only the tip of the social media iceberg. Other top social media sites, which you should be actively engaged with, include Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, and more. Through smartphones, you have the power to reach customers like never before – but only if you have a social media presence.
3. Proselytize Customers with Superior Service
Can you guess what the most powerful form of advertising is? If you guessed word-of-mouth, you nailed it. Once a business makes a sale, the contact with that customer isn’t necessarily complete. Unforeseeable disgruntled customers, manufacturing defects, and other unknowns are inevitable.
And when a customer has a negative experience, it is detrimental to the future of your business to turn your back on them and kick them to the curb. Instead of viewing customer complaints as a waste of time, view them as an opportunity to proselytize them to your cause so they will spread glowing reviews to their friends, family, and social media networks.
4. Google My Business
If you haven’t already listed your business with Google My Business, make it a priority goal today.
How many times have you been searching for an auto shop, restaurant, retailer, clothing outlet, or any other type of business on your phone, only to see Google conveniently and accurately plot all of the businesses in your area on a map?
If you don’t have a Google My Business listing, everyone searching for businesses in your niche on their smartphones is blind to your existence. It doesn’t take long to set up, it’s free, and it helps fresh leads find your business. If you haven’t set up your profile yet, make haste.
YouTube is almost 15 years old now, though in its early days, no one knew how powerful it was. Now, everyone has heard of YouTube stars who make seven figures only by providing entertainment content. Leveraging the power of YouTube helps cultivate a following and lets customers see your business (and its leaders and employees) with their own eyes.
Some brands employ professional videographers and video editors to produce the highest quality content. But some businesses and YouTube personalities have risen to fame starting with little more than their smartphones.
Creating YouTube content, be it how-to videos, Q & A’s, or product reviews, is a great way to market your business and establish credibility with your audience.
6. YouTube Influencers
If you’re camera shy or feel intimidated at the task of creating your own YouTube videos, you can still leverage the power of YouTube to reach your audience. But to do so, you’re going to need to add value to an existing YouTube channel. Influencer marketing is essentially a shout-out, product placement ad, or endorsement from someone who already commands a large following.
However, you’ll first need to identify and impress the influencer in your industry. You see, influencers’ bread and butter is typically trust with their audience. As a rule of thumb, they don’t generally tout or recommend products that they wouldn’t personally use or dislike. Nevertheless, if you have a quality product, service, or offering, finding an influencer in your niche is a great way to stretch a thin marketing budget. In some instances, you can even trade a product endorsement in exchange for content or a guest post.
It may, at first, feel disheartening trying to advertise to compete with the big dogs in your industry. Fortunately, due to the advent of social media and creative marketing strategies, you can leverage technology to reach your audience and build a zealous following.
However, if you do have a slim marketing budget but don’t feel comfortable engaging in modern marketing practices on your own, I encourage you to reach out for the help of a qualified professional. The future growth of your business depends on it.