8 Cheap Ways to Market your Small Business

During an economic downturn, both businesses and consumers have less money to spend.  You want to make sure when they get ready to make a buying decision your brand is top-of-mind.  Plus, you need to demonstrate your product or service offers the best value proposition.  That means you need a marketing strategy that is targeted and consistent.

By Susan Solovic,  Author and lecturer, www.susansoloviconline.com

Famed author Mark Twain said, “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”  But advertising can be expensive.  And in a tight economy, many small businesses cut their marketing budgets first because of cash flow concerns.   However, when times are tough, it is even more important to keep your business brand front and center.

During an economic downturn, both businesses and consumers have less money to spend.  You want to make sure when they get ready to make a buying decision your brand is top-of-mind.  Plus, you need to demonstrate your product or service offers the best value proposition.  That means you need a marketing strategy that is targeted and consistent.

Fortunately, there are ways in which you can market your business effectively without breaking the bank.  To be successful, it takes effort, patience and commitment.  Here are eight inexpensive ways to market your small biz.

Elevator pitch. You should be marketing all the time — wherever you are.  Therefore, you need a compelling elevator pitch.  Research shows the average attention span of an adult is about 6 to 8 seconds.  That’s all the time you have to grab someone’s attention.  If you successfully engage them, then you only have a little over a minute to really sell them on your product or service.  So you need to invest the time to craft a killer elevator pitch.  The return on your investment will pay huge dividends in terms of creating business opportunities.

Leverage Community. You don’t have to think big when it comes to your marketing efforts.  Think locally.  What’s going on in your community?  Sponsor a Little League team or a 5k charity walk/run.  Print bookmarks and leave them at the local library.  If you understand who your ideal customer is, think about how and where they spend their time.  Then search for opportunities to be there with your marketing message.

Collaborative Marketing. Put together a group of synergistic, non-competitive businesses in your area and agree to cross-promote.  You can use coupons, fliers, reciprocal website links or even offer bundled promotions.  By collaborating with each other you can expand your customer base because you’ll be reaching new people.

Networking. I’m a huge fan of networking.  I don’t think there is any better way to build a business than to get out there, shake some hands, and get known.  Networking requires a time commitment and it doesn’t provide instant gratification, but a strong network is one of the greatest assets any business person can have.

Give a Speech. A lot of people hate public speaking.  However, there are lots of groups you are looking for qualified, subject-matter experts who can present to their groups.  So take a deep breath and volunteer.  You don’t have to be a pro as long as the information you share is helpful to the audience.  And the upside — the more you do it the easier it gets.  Plus it positions you as a credible authority in your field.

Public relations. I started my corporate career in the field of public relations.  The business has changed significantly because of technology.  Today, a small business owner can accomplish a lot without hiring a professional firm.  Subscribe to Help a Reporter Out (www.HARO.com).  You can respond to reporters queries who are looking for story ideas and resources.  Some are small media outlets, but some of the major media names use this service too.  Also, there are free press release distribution services which you can use.  Some of the free press release services include:  Prweb.com – Prfriend.com – Free-press-release.com – Expressress.com – eReleases.com

Customer Referrals. Don’t be shy about asking for customer referrals.  The majority of people say they’d be willing to provide a referral if asked, but very few take the initiative to do it on their own.  Referrals make it easier to get in the door with new customers.  If you aren’t asking you are missing opportunities.

Build Relationships.  It is a lot less expensive to keep a customer than it is to get a new one.  That’s why establishing strong relationships with your customer base is crucial.  One of the ways you can to that is by launching an email marketing campaign.  Make your communications informative and helpful — something your customers will look forward to receiving.  Social media is another way to keep the communication channel open.