While this year’s Super Bowl was a scoreboard bust, it was a boon for Fox, which pocketed some $4 million for each 30-second-advertising spot. Whether those big bucks were well spent is debatable, but there’s no question that small-business owners must pursue marketing strategies that don’t come with Super Bowl price tags.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tools that can increase business without breaking the bank.
Consider these dollar-wise marketing tactics:
• Community Champion – If your business is of the brick-and-mortar variety, chances are good that the majority of your customers live nearby. An effective means of increasing awareness of your enterprise and simultaneously building goodwill is to support the community your customers call home. Examples include sponsoring a Little League team or a 5k walk/run for charity.
• Promotional Partnerships – Approach noncompetitive businesses in your area with this proposal: You promote my business, and I’ll promote yours. Cross-promotional collaborations can come in many forms – from displaying each other’s flyers, distributing each other’s coupons, or linking to each other’s websites.
• Introduce Yourself – In an age when so many seem consumed with creating an online presence, there’s a tendency to forget the value of actual face-to-face interaction. Set a goal of introducing yourself to at least five new people a week – whether at formal networking events or casual encounters at the grocery-checkout counter. If the person is unfamiliar with your enterprise, explain what you do and be sure to offer your business card.
• Pave the Way with Referrals – When you’re pursuing a prospect, one of the most effective door-opening techniques is to have a satisfied customer reach out to whomever you’re targeting. While they’re unlikely to do so unsolicited, most happy customers are glad to comply when asked.
• Coupons are a Cornerstone – Coupons, admittedly, are far from a new concept – and that’s the point. Coupons are an enduring marketing mechanism because they’re effective. Not only can coupons attract new business, but when an existing customer is given a coupon to use in the future, the odds of a return visit are very high.
• Suggest they Sample – Although many small businesses don’t lend themselves to offering samples or free-trial offers, those that do, should. If someone has the opportunity to experience your product or service, it’s likely that they will feel more comfortable making a purchase.
• Drive your Marketing, Literally – As low-tech as it seems, using your vehicle – as a marketing vehicle – is a proven-successful strategy. Be sure that your company name – as well as phone number and/or website – are large enough to be seen by passing motorists.
• Email is Essential – Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective and powerful tools available to small businesses, far more so than behemoth Facebook. As many business owners have discovered, their Facebook posts are only seen by a fraction of the people who “liked” their page. If a business wants all of its “fans” to see all of its posts, a sizeable check will need to be sent Facebook’s way.
Conversely, email marketing is controlled by you. As a starting point, ask existing clients and contacts if you can have their email address, and if it’s okay to periodically email them with special offers, announcements, or perhaps a newsletter. It’s recommended that emails only be sent every seven to 14 days; any more frequently, and happy customers may become annoyed ex-customers.
Test several different tactics, and see what works best. By testing, you’re sure to find the right fit for your business and customers.