In a long and varied career, I have spent a couple of decades in sales, sales training, sales management, and running my own businesses.
Creating a Buzz for Your Business
What free and low-cost ways can you use to promote your small business? In fact, how do you create the kind of ‘buzz’ that will turn your small business into a growing business?
Promoting a small business is a lot like practising a musical instrument; you may not like it, but you have to do it if you want to make any progress.
For some, it can be a nerve-wracking experience because you might have no idea where, what, or how much promotion you need to do to get the results you want.
Believe it or not, there are plenty of free and creative ways to get the word out about your business and help customers find you.
Show Your Expertise
Being in business, you're more than familiar with the issues that many of your clients are dealing with and how to solve them. This is your area of expertise and it's your ticket to showing potential clients that you can help them through your business. You could write articles for local newspapers or blogs that give people actionable advice in your area of expertise. Showing off your skills this way may open doors, such as potential guest spots on local radio or TV shows, or even a newspaper feature.
Make sure your business name, logo, tag line, and contact information is on everything that leaves your office, whether it be an invoice or a just a note. This isn’t for your current clients, it’s for your current clients’ friends or colleagues who might see the note or receipt and may need your services now or in the future.
Use Leisure Activities
Everyone has hobbies. Whether it's being a member of a band or being a part of a community sports league, it costs nothing to ask whether your business can be mentioned along with your name on the roster or in a newspaper article write up. This helps people to associate you with your business and word-of-mouth is still the best marketing strategy.
A tried and true classic that works every time! Vistaprint is one of the top business paraphernalia providers around and every once in a while, they offer great promotions on premium business cards. These are some of the more unique cards that you can use to make an eye-catching impression. Leave them everywhere.
B2B networks are some of the most underused resources because many businesses are too focused on procuring customers by more direct means.
Striking up a relationship with a related business, but not a direct competitor, can mean more exposure to the right people who may need your expertise at some point.
For example, if you are setting up a dog walking business, start building relationships with the local vets and poodle parlours. If you are setting up a landscape gardening business then start building relationships with the local garden equipment suppliers or conservatory manufacturers (Why? Because most people who buy conservatories want a nice-looking garden to look out onto. You get the picture.) Start forging relationships where both you and the business you are approaching both potentially gain extra business.
Website and a Facebook Page
The power of social media can't be ignored by local offline businesses. Mobile is a lifestyle and one of the ways that people are finding new services is through networks like Facebook. Set up a ‘Facebook Business Page’ and make sure you update it with your posts or other useful information for your prospective customers. You may even want to try some Facebook advertising; it's inexpensive and you can target it to the areas you want.
To really have full control over the image you present to your customers you will need a website, this will be the hub where all your prospective customers can come to check out your services. Setting up a simple website doesn’t have to cost a fortune, if you have some technical savvy you can build your own website using Wordpress and the cost would usually be under a £100 for hosting and your domain name for a year.
Register With Google
Once your website is up and running make sure you register with the major search engines, specifically Google. This needs to be done so that your potential customers can find your website on the internet. Just google ‘submit website to google’ to get started, it’s free, but note it can take around 8 weeks for your registration to come into effect.
Use the Local Press to Get Your Message Out
Often local newspapers are looking out for interesting local stories to fill their pages— especially of the local boy/girl makes good variety. Before approaching your local newspaper, try to think of an ‘angle’ that they can use within the story—maybe, you are opening the very first cat café in the area, or you started your bakery business in the school canteen. Be prepared to have your photograph taken, local newspapers love to put a ‘face’ to the story. Any article you have written about you should give you the opportunity to show your logo and contact details.
Run a Competition
Everybody loves competition, so as you are building your business why not offer some prizes to the prospective customer via your local newspaper (see the previous section) by asking a simple question based on general knowledge or asking the entrants to provide a short marketing blurb about your business. The knock-on effect of running a competition is that you can start building up your mailing list—just remember to note in the competition rules that entrants agree to be contacted in the future by you.
You could also try setting up a competition online or via Facebook, but don’t forget to review their contest terms and conditions.
Local Online Directories
Many cities and towns often have a website which includes a business directory, sponsored by the local council, where local business can advertise for free. This gives you another avenue to be found online.
Announce Your Imminent Arrival
If you are using premises for your business, as soon as you have access, you need to be sure to erect your business signage (even if it is just the ‘coming soon’ variety). If you are a shop business, this can cause a stir among your potential customers and start a buzz. Don’t forget to shop around for your signage for the best deal locally or again try one of the online producers like Vistaprint.
I hope these hints and tips prove helpful to promote your fledgling business. Why not add any ideas you have found useful in the comments section?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Jerry Cornelius
Natalie Galland from San Francisco,CA on March 18, 2020:
Thank you very much,Liz. Local business directory such as Websst, Yelp or Google My Business is always a good place to start marketing of any kind of business nowadays.Besides it gives a great opportunity to expand existing business by getting more clients and leads.
Jerry Cornelius (author) on April 20, 2019:
Thank you, Liz,
Liz Westwood from UK on April 19, 2019:
I lije the way this article covers all angles.