It’s the old vicious cycle of small business marketing – if you had more money you’d do more marketing but you need more customers to get more money. It’s kind of like the chicken and the egg, but with bigger consequences in your business life. Starting and running a small business is hard, and it’s usually got to be done with minimal financial resources at the start.
So what is the small business entrepreneur with a shoestring budget supposed to do to attract attention? Here are a few cost-effective ideas that will generate attention without breaking the bank:
• Great business cards: Business people can still take great advantage of this tried and true marketing device. Search online to order some really creative business cards at a cost-effective price. Then you can hand them out to everyone you meet – in fact, give them two so they can do some of the distribution work for you.
• Look into pay-per-click: If your geographic location or business niche is unique enough you might be able to benefit from low-cost pay-per-click marketing, or PPC. This gets your ad in front of a targeted audience at the most actionable moment – when they are searching for a specific topic. You need to be very careful to make your business stand out without over-bidding for certain keywords and set a cap on the amount of money you’re willing to spend, but the good news is that you don’t pay until someone actually clicks on your ad to visit your website.
• E-mail: You can build a quality list by asking for email addresses from every customer, or you can buy highly-targeted lists in your market for a reasonable amount of money. Use this opportunity wisely and don’t just send spam messages that mean nothing to the recipient. Talk about what makes your product great, make a special offer, or provide useful information on topics related to your business and recipients will actually look forward to hearing from you.
• Social media: It costs very little but your time to have a great social media presence online. Use your Facebook page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel judiciously to provide excellent information to prospects and customers and you will slowly build a loyal audience. Ask your audience to provide testimonials or tips about why they like your business or how your product helps to improve their life.
These ideas will get your business moving on the marketing treadmill, but you also have to commit yourself to implementing marketing as a long-term growth strategy. Make sure your website is attractive and current, search your business name in online forums and provide current information, print out some nice looking cost-effective brochures to hand out, and buy a low-cost magnet that you can use to advertise your business on your car. Get creative and you’re sure to find plenty of big ideas that will work for your small business.