Since Amanda retired she's been an active entrepreneur, gaining "hands-on" experience in online marketing and small business development.
A Cost-Effective Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses
All businesses, big or small, global or local, need an efficient, cost-effective marketing strategy. There's no getting around it: no matter how good your product or service is, without an efficient and sustainable marketing strategy, who's to know? For a small business with limited resources, the challenge is to develop a marketing strategy that costs little and brings a measurable, positive return on investment.
Most small businesses have more time and talent than money to spend. If you run a small business, here are five compelling marketing opportunities you can't afford to ignore. The good news is they're free.
1. Boost Your Blog
Your business website should have a blog that you update regularly. A well-written blog populated with high-quality content targeted at your customer base is a powerful marketing tool. It takes time, but you can do it spending no money at all. Stick with it, and you'll build your business's visibility and authority in your industry or niche. The key to a successful business blog is to update often, share useful information which helps your customers solve problems or advance their aims, and encourage interaction and trust-building rather than pushing your product or service.
A good business blog is a form of "passive marketing." You help your customers with useful, actionable information and advice. The aim is to offer genuine help and build trust. Once you establish that relationship, your audience self-selects your product or service when they need it. It's a "slow boil" approach but customers that come to you this way become repeat customers for life and represent an excellent long-term return on your investment.
2. Make Your Business Mobile-Friendly
Curating a blog rich in valuable resources tailored to the needs of your target audience is only the first step. You need to make it as easy as possible for your customers to find your blog and read it. More people than ever before across all demographics consume their online content via mobile devices. If you haven't optimized your website and blog for mobile, you're closing the doors on a lot of potential business.
You needn't know anything about web development or coding, and you needn't spend a dime to make your site and blog mobile-friendly. Hundreds of free themes will work and display well on mobile devices and desktop computers. Look for a theme described as "responsive" and change to one in keeping with your brand. A responsive website and blog will also boost your business's visibility in online search results.
3. Leverage Social Media Outreach
Once you have a well-populated, mobile-friendly business blog that you regularly update with high-quality content tailored to your customers' needs, you need to let them know about it. More people than ever before discover new products and services via social media. An active social media presence is a must for any small business. The keys to a successful social media marketing campaign are to be:
To be selective means to focus on the social media your prospects use.
If you've done your market research, you should have a good idea of your target demographics' interests and habits. There's no point running a campaign on Facebook and Instagram if your audience favors Twitter and LinkedIn. Build a presence where your customers can see you and ignore the rest.
To be productive means to post plenty of useful, interesting content targeted to your audience's interests.
Again, this takes time and effort as you must research which posts they prefer, and what content they like, interact with, and share. Once you know, produce similar content. Like your blog, social media is "passive marketing" so don't post relentlessly about your products and services. Focus on helping or entertaining your target audience, and they will find you.
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To be interactive means to engage your followers on social media.
The keyword for business in social media is "social." By interacting with your client base, you'll be able to offer them added value, build your brand, attract new customers, and discover what their problems and needs are so you can refine your product or service to serve them better.
It takes time and effort to establish your brand and a following on social media. But you should never underestimate the power social marketing has to build a crowd of brand-loyal, repeat customers in the long term. If you're selective, productive, and interactive, you'll draw people from social media to your blog and from your blog to your products.
4. Build Your Mailing List
You should have a mailing list. Whatever happens to your blogging platform, in the world of social media, in your primary industry or niche, if you have a way to sell directly to your loyal customers you have a measure of business security you couldn't have otherwise. Work hard to build your list.
You should use your blog and your social media to funnel potential clients into your list. At least make sure you put a clear call-to-action "above the fold" inviting your blog visitors to sign-up. If you have a downloadable info product, a free bonus, or a discount offer you can use to incentivize sign-ups so much better.
A mailing list is the most powerful free marketing tool you can have. People don't give their contact details away lightly. Whether you incentivize your mailing list with gifts and bonuses or not, a significant percentage of your sign-ups are hot leads. They're people with a real and urgent interest in your business ready to buy your products or services. Your mailing list is a potential goldmine.
5. Leverage Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Word-of-mouth recommendation is the single most powerful marketing tool any small business can have. Many business owners ignore it because they think it's out of their control. Either people will recommend your product or they won't. Don't make that mistake.
If you leverage the power of word-of-mouth marketing, you can turn every happy customer into a brand advocate. It's easy. All you have to do is follow up and use incentives. Once a customer buys your product or uses your service, you should offer them a free bonus, either another product or service opportunity if they recommend your brand to a friend. To make results measurable give them a token or code that they use to redeem the offer.
Once your customer's friend has tried the product or service, you can repeat the offer to them. You might think you're giving away too much. But if your product or service is excellent and your marketing efforts well-targeted, you'll be building trust and loyalty which converts into repeat-buying customers.
5 Free Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses
Builds trust and brand awareness
High-quality, targeted, useful content
More people search and shop on mobile devices
Use a responsive template or web design
3. Social Media
Going to your customers, listening to their needs, and answering their questions builds trust and helps you focus your marketing messages
Select the media your target customers use, interact, be helpful
4. Mailing List
Building a mailing list allows you to communicate directly with highly motivated customers
Put your mailing list sign-up above the fold and offer a targeted incentive
A recommendation from a friend is the most powerful form of marketing ever
Don't leave it to chance. Offer current customers an incentive to recommend your products or services to others
The marketing ideas given here are all proven, powerful, efficient, and effective strategies that cost nothing but time and a little ingenuity to put into action. But the return on investment can be dramatic in the long term. If you run a small business and you're looking for a big boost, these are five free marketing strategies you can't afford to ignore.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 Amanda Littlejohn
Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on June 22, 2020:
This is all very useful information that makes a lot of sense. It is also very well written, clear, and easy to understand.