You have to spend money to make money.
All business owners are familiar with this saying. And it is certainly true when it comes to marketing.
Marketing is a key strategy to get new customers and increase sales. But marketing expenses can quickly become very high.
If your marketing leads to higher sales and profit, this is not a problem. But if it doesn’t, spending all that money is a wasted investment.
Thankfully, marketing does not have to be expensive to bring good results.
Here are 12 highly effective and low-cost small business marketing strategies to help you improve the results you get from your marketing.
Build up your business network
- Ask your customers for referrals. Referrals are one of the best ways to get new business. It is more effective if a satisfied customer refers you, as compared to you promoting yourself. For example, over the past 8+ years, almost all my strategy consulting work has come from clients who referred me to other clients. So many times I have received a phone call or LinkedIn message from a new client telling me that they were reaching out to me because another client recommended me to them.
- Join a face-to-face business networking group. These can be general local networks or professional business networks that cater to a particular group, like marketing consultants or trainers. Joining this type of network is one of the fastest ways to become better known in your town.
- Join a professional or business organisation, either offline or online. This can be a very good way to increase your business contacts and get more business. For example, a friend of mine is a member of a business organisation for accountants. He gets a lot of business from this organisation because members push work to each other when they cannot take on more customers. This is one of the most highly effective and low-cost marketing strategies for his small business.
- Consider going to local business events and trade fairs. Not only will you meet new people and potential customers, it is also a good way to keep up to date about what is going on in your industry. These days, there are more and more online fairs as well as hybrid fairs where you can choose to attend in person or virtually. I believe that these will remain. Consider participating in some hybrid events to meet people from other areas.
- Expand your online business network. The best way to do this is through LinkedIn because you can connect to people even if you don’t know their names. LinkedIn can help you gain access to decision-makers, help to showcase your expertise and bring you new customers. Check out this article for some good advice about how to grow your business network on LinkedIn.
Attract new customers
- Find out where your customers are most likely to spend their time and go there to meet them. First of all, this requires that you know what kind of customer you want to attract. Not all customers are created equal. Identifying your Most Profitable Customer will help you focus your efforts and get better results.
- Give a free workshop or class about your products and services. This can be a good way to show people how to use your product or service, while at the same time promoting your business. For example, I offer a free webinar to small and medium businesses about how to increase their organic growth and get higher profits.
- Develop business partnerships and do cross-promotion with them. Cross-promoting your products and services helps to reduce marketing expenses because it is shared. It also creates synergy for all partners. If you are considering a business partnership, make sure that your business partner meets these criteria. As for determining what kind of business partnerships to enter into, take a look at these partnerships that are particularly suitable for small businesses.
- Learn how to write great proposals and offers. First of all, understand what makes customers buy. Customers are not interested in what you are selling. They don’t care about your products or services. They want to know how you will solve the problem that they are facing. If you can show them that you know how to do this, it will be easy for them to say yes to your product or service. If you are reaching out to potential customers who do not yet know you, a sales letter can be a good way to introduce your business. Read this article to see an example of a short sales letter that you can use as inspiration. However, I recommend that you add a few sentences showing that you have taken the time to learn about your potential customer. Otherwise, it is very easy for your customer to just press delete or throw it away.
- Create a business brochure. A brochure gives your potential customers additional information about your business and your products or services. They are also very useful if you attend business events or trade fairs. Note that this can also be an online brochure that you put on your website or pin to your Facebook business page. Make it a nicely designed pdf brochure that introduces your business, what you offer and how to contact you.
- Promote your business for free on Facebook. Look for ways to get customers involved, for example through competitions or by asking for their opinion.
- Get free publicity from local media. There are many ways of doing this. You can send out press releases about milestones that your business has achieved. You can offer to write a weekly or monthly column in your local newspaper. Another way is to get invited to talk on radio or tv shows. All of these are effective ways of reaching new customers and they also help to boost your reputation as an expert in a particular industry.
Small businesses do not need to spend a lot of money on marketing to get great results. These highly effective and low-cost small business marketing strategies only require you to put in some time and effort.
Try them out to see which one works best for your business.