Small businesses, just like any other form of business, need to spend money on marketing in order to win clients. Disturbingly – there are large number of small businesses that don’t even have a budget for this kind of activity.
While it’s essential to have a budget for marketing; it’s also essential to get the most bang for your buck from marketing as a small business. Unlike big businesses you simply can’t afford to run a costly television campaign and see no return on it.
One of the best ways for small businesses to market is to use local marketing strategies e.g. marketing that is aimed at customers who are geographically close to your business. In some cases, for example if you run a pool cleaning company, it’s the only sensible marketing strategy for a small business – you don’t want to drive 1,000 miles to each client do you?
With that in mind we’ve put together 5 sensible strategies to win and keep customers using local marketing:
Digital Marketing – Local Style
Small business owners have a lot on their plate; they’ve products and services to create and a business to run – this can leave many small business owners reluctant to get involved in digital marketing. Why? Because it’s an area that sits outside of their own experience and skill set.
Yet, social media, search engines, etc. are all capable of being used cheaply and effectively to create a steady flow of customers for a local business.
If you want to get started in this – talk to your existing customers; what kind of digital channels do they use when they’re looking for a supplier? It is Facebook or Google or Twitter or..? What are their key expectations of what they find online for them to make a purchasing decision?
When you have this information – you should be able to engage a local digital marketing specialist to begin delivering the kinds of platform your customers are looking for. This doesn’t have to cost the earth; you may even be able to negotiate part of their compensation on a rewards basis.
Community Driven Promotions
If you have a bricks and mortar presence – you have the ability to run special promotions that are open to your local community. These don’t have to be crazy giveaways; a monthly discount day for the elderly or a back-to-school effort can really be appreciated by the people you serve.
The idea here is to create connections. You as the business owner should be on hand during any community based promotion and use the chance to build genuine relationships with your community. Go shake hands, hand out your business card, introduce yourself and listen to any concerns or feedback that they might have.
We buy from people that we like more often than anything else. We like people who are genuine and who are interested in us and what we have to say. Don’t see this as a chance to sell more products; see it as a chance to establish lifelong connections with your community.
Sponsoring Local Events
Sponsorship might sound expensive but in our experience there are many local events that aren’t seeking a fortune from a benefactor. From providing a sound system for a charity gala to providing branding for a team running in a charity marathon – the opportunities are endless.
These are also great ways to show that you’re a serious member of the local community that you and your business is prepared to give back to the people that shop with you. You’ll also find that the events you sponsor often act as informal networking opportunities giving you a chance to showcase your business to other people without coming across as a pushy salesperson.
The final advantage of sponsoring a local event is that your brand becomes part of your local landscape; the more people see a brand – the more likely they are to recognize it when it comes to making a purchasing decision.
Free Gift Promotions
Even superstars like free stuff. Queen Latifah, the pop star, said; “I don’t care how much money you have, free stuff is always a good thing.”
If you create a free gift for first time visitors to your business; people will talk about it. Instead of having to take out big adverts in the press – you can give your customers something awesome and let them go and tell their friends and family about it.
Better still, the law of reciprocity says that when you give someone something with no strings attached – they feel obliged to pay you back. In customer relationship terms that means they’ll almost always spend more money than they intended to.
Conduct a Rebranding Exercise
Whilst it’s true that rebranding can cost millions of dollars for big businesses and that investment isn’t always a success – for example Uber’s design chief walked when their rebranding exercise wasn’t terribly well received by the public – rebranding doesn’t have to take place in such a dramatic fashion either.
Small businesses can use rebranding to give their brand a story; a way to communicate with their community why they are unique and do so in language that works for that community. It gives you a chance to take that logo you had made in the first week of running your business and turn it into something a little more modern and a little more relevant. A new logo doesn’t have to break the bank – you can get one done by a professional branding company for as little as $300.
You can also use rebranding to broaden the customer segments that you serve. If, for example, you began as a woman’s clothing outfit but want to add men’s clothing to your range – rebranding gives you the perfect opportunity to do so.
Once you have rebranded you can then put out some press releases and communicate that rebranding exercise to a local audience without spending a penny; local press is always in search of a good story.