If not done right, marketing can be a very big expense. Especially for small business owners. However, this need not be the case.
Using some creativity, you can keep your marketing expenses very low or even at zero while still maximising the results you get.
In a previous article, I shared 12 highly effective and low-cost marketing strategies that help you gain an advantage over competitors. In this article, I am sharing 5 little-used marketing strategies to gain an advantage over your competitors.
1. Create a marketing plan
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. People often say this in business and life, but it is also true in marketing.
It is important to know what kind of customer you want to attract to your business. Not all customers are created equal and you should be focusing your marketing efforts on your Most Profitable Customers.
Once you have clarity about that, you can tailor your marketing to specifically target this particular kind of customer. Not only will this help you to get better results, it will also help you save on marketing expenses.
This Hubspot article provides good information about the various types of marketing plans.
2. Have a sales presentation that convinces customers to buy
A sales presentation can be used in different ways.
It forces you to gain clarity about what it is that you are offering customers. Or, if you have previously created a sales presentation, it makes you verify whether what you are offering is still the same as before.
You can use a sales presentation as an elevator pitch – for example when you meet a potential customer at a community event. Or, you can use it when you have a formal business meeting with a potential customer at their office.
Afterwards, read this article from Hubspot to help you create a successful sales presentation.
3. Promote yourself offline
Extend the “reach” of your marketing by making it easy for customers to become aware of what you do.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to advertise your business on your car. Most businesses already do this.
A little-used marketing strategy is to put a business card holder on the side of your car. At the very least, the business card should contain information about what you do and your contact details.
Here are some additional ways that you can promote yourself offline:
- Apply for business awards. Find out which business organisations give out awards and nominate yourself. Even if you do not win, a nomination gives you a way to create free publicity for your business. You can send out a press release, add it to your invoices, or publish it on social media.
- Provide in-kind sponsorship to local organisations. Most local organisations, whether NGOs, women’s organisations or sports clubs, welcome support from businesses. Instead of donating money, why not donate some of your products or services? Or even just donate your time? If you sell retail, donate products that help the NGO or charity achieve more or faster. If you are a trainer, volunteer your time to help them build capacity. A marketing consultant can help them design flyers that include your company logo as a sponsor. In this way, my NGO in Liberia has worked with businesses in the Netherlands and Scotland. Don’t forget to ask the NGO or charity to feature you on their Facebook page or website. Make sure to announce the sponsoring on your own website or social media as well.
- Send out promotions when you send invoices. You can add a promotion at the bottom of the invoice, or include a promotional coupon in the the envelope. Make sure that the promotion can be used by anybody and it may lead to you getting some new customers.
4. Promote yourself online
Look for things that you can use to promote your business online. Here are a few examples to inspire you:
- Did you win a new customer? Welcome them on Facebook.
- Did you successfully complete a contract with a client? Add a case story to your website and – if confidentiality allows – share the results on social media.
- Did one of your staff members complete a training or master a new skill? Share it on social media and explain how this will lead to your business being able to deliver even better results than before.
- Are you sponsoring an event in your community? Send out press releases to your local newspaper and share the announcement on your social media channels.
- Add the accomplishments to your email signature and tour invoices or brochures. This is another one of the little-used marketing strategies that I hardly see in business. Use it to your advantage.
- Write a business blog. A blog can be a good way to show your expertise. It can also be used to promote your products or services. First of all, by showcasing them online. Secondly, by showing (potential) customers how the products or services can be used. You can use videos (save them for free on YouTube or create a dedicated business channel) to illustrate the use of your services and embed them in your blog posts. Just like the Facebook business page, you will need to post on a regular basis, whether once a week or once a month. If you don’t have a website, you can use LinkedIn to do this.
5. Boost your online marketing
Everybody is familiar with using Facebook or Google ads to market their business. But as with offline marketing, there are many different ways to market your business online. Here are some ideas to inspire you:
- Create a separate Facebook page for your business – this Meta article explains how to do it – and make sure to keep it updated regularly. Once you have it up and running, use it to market your business on Facebook for free.
- Set up a website. A business website can be a good way to introduce your business, products and services to new customers. A website is not expensive to set up and maintain and it does not have to be complicated. A basic website that only includes the who, what, where, and why of your business will stake your claim on the Internet and will show up when people search online for businesses like yours. It helps you to be found online.
- Do video interviews with your best customers and share this on social media. You can ask them how they use your products or how they feel about your business. But a more creative approach is to ask them to tell you about their work or passions. Even though they are not directly referencing your business, customers are likely to share the video with their network. You can add an introduction about your business at the beginning of the video. And speaking of lesser-known marketing strategies that can bring you a business advantage, this is one of the least used!
Which strategy will bring you the best results will mainly depend on where your customers spend their time.
If your (potential) customers spend time on social media, social media like Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram or Pinterest can help you build awareness for your business and reach out to potential customers.
If, however, your (potential) customers are more likely to spend their time at community events or at local business organisations, offline marketing will bring you better results.
It all comes back to knowing who your most profitable customer is.
Once you know that, start implementing one or more of these little-used marketing strategies to beat your competitors.