The advertising market is insane. In 2019, it's estimated to be a nearly $600 billion industry, and that's almost over the top. In this crowded marketplace, how can small businesses compete? If you don't have the same resources, how can you market your small business for free? Well, do you remember when your mom said “kill them with kindness”? We want to encourage you to kill them with creativity. It may help your business grow in the long run. This post explores several tactics that can be used to develop marketing strategies for small business.
We know we can't beat big brands with spending. However, big ideas tend to die at big companies. Creativity dies in committee. I spent 20 years at major companies, and I've seen more creative ideas which died on the vine than survived. So, trust me because I know how your small business might need to market itself and free your route to success. On top of that, you might not have the capital to compete with those massive marketing budgets. Luckily, small businesses and entrepreneurs aren't afraid to be creative and take smart risks. The following three breakthrough ways to market your small business are inexpensive and effective, and we encourage you to consider them.
People are social. They love to come together. You just need to give them a fun reason to do it. According to Eventbrite, a recent poll of adults aged 18+ revealed that people are attending more live events than ever before. Some businesses lend themselves to this more than others. But, even a consulting group like ourselves, can put together an educational event and make it fun. Reach out to the public and you might find your new customers.
Holidays give you a built-in platform. Even not-so-fun events, like tax season, can be a hook for education. If there is a business expo and you can't afford a booth, consider holding an event nearby. If you can provide free help as a small business, you might have found your perfect market. It's always better to bring the event to you, so if you have a brick and mortar store, think about how you can piggy-back on local festivals and the like. Small Business Saturday is also another great time to work with your neighbors to create and event. The key is to make it fun. Prizes, bragging rights, competitions are all ways to make something that may seem drab more interesting.
If you feel like you need to market your small business, your neighbors might be looking for some of the same free help. So get to know your neighbors! You would be surprised how much it helps to talk to your peers. Small businesses can use each other to succeed, creating a real life network. Promote one another and build your own community. If that isn't possible, use other forms of connections. Talk to your LinkedIn contacts and your friends and more to figure out how you can help one another without too much cost.
Another way is to put your customers to work. Referral programs work very well because people trust their friends. Even big name brands have built their businesses based on referrals. DropBox, when it started, offered 50MB of extra space for every friend you referred. After referring 20 friends, we had a free account with 1 GB of space, which at the time, was enormous. It doesn't have to be big, a simple thank you gift will usually suffice. Plus, it may help you grow your circles of communication.
HARO is a service by Cision, which curates reporters questions. It sends an e-mail out 3 times a day from Monday through Friday. In each e-mail, reporters ask questions regarding specific topics. If you are knowledgeable in that given area, you can reply with an answer. This has been an effective tool for both ourselves and our clients. It's an awesome tool to help grow your business without spending a penny.
While marketing on a limited budget can be challenging, creativity and our tactics might help you save yourself. In order to market your small business for free, you may need to think differently. But, don't forget, some of these tactics can work exceptionally well whether you have a small budget or a big one.
In a recent post we also covered a number lower cost strategies for entrepreneurs that you might want to read. Plus, we posted another on guerilla marketing for small business that might help, too.
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Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkenIn profile
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