As Small Business owners we all face a time when paying for major advertisements just aren't a reality. It is quite impossible to keep up with the large multi-million dollar corporations. The good news is we don't have to keep up with them. Yes our target markets may overlap, but there are plenty of consumers out there for the large corporations and for us "little guys." In this post I will go over a few advertising options that are affective and won't break the bank.
The very first thing I learned when building my business was to never under-estimate the power of "word of mouth". Having a good reputation is essential in any business. It doesn't matter if you have the cheapest prices or best quality, if you are a nightmare to work with people will talk about it. There's nothing more deadly than a bad business reputation. Don't get me wrong, we will all experience that one customer who is unhappy for any number of reasons and is impossible to please, but what I am talking about is your overall repoire with your customers. If your clients have a great experience with you and your company they will talk to their friends about it. Unfortunately, if they have a less than favorable experience with your company they will tell the world about it! Always make sure to treat every client as if they are your one and only customer, even if you have 15 others to worry about at the same time. We as business owners have to remember the bonus of going to a Small Business over larger competitors. It's the personal connection each customer creates every time they work with you and your employees. This helps to build long-term relationships with clientele over one time buyers. If there is a problem, fix it and fix it fast. The more accommodating you are to your customers, the more likely they are to tell their friends about it.
Another great way to get your name out there is to trust other Small Businesses! A perfect example is in the Wedding Business. If you are a photographer try and create a vendor agreement with a DJ. This way when couples are planning their special day you can recommend each other. Clients love to work with vendors that can vouch for each other. It gives you each some professional credibility.
Going with that idea a little further would be to get Rack Cards printed and ask local shops to display them on their front desk/checkout station for you. Many mom and pop pizza shops, bookstores, and even hair salons will agree to support your business as long as you agree to support them in return of course!
Now I know what you are thinking, "this is supposed to be BUDGET FRIENDLY ideas, printing rack cards is expensive!" but that doesn't have to be true. There are many vendors, including us, that print at reasonable prices. Other options would be Staples, Vistaprint and 123print.
One major way to advertise your business is with the use of Social Media. This is a great way to get your business out there, and you don't even have to spend a dime.
Instagram is a completely free app the allows you to post photos, with or without photo filters, and share them with millions of people worldwide. You can narrow down your scope by captioning your image with a popular phrase that applies to it, preceeded by a Hashtag (#). For example, if you are a business that provides Skin Care products you could take a photo of your moisturizer, caption it and then add the hashtag, #moisturizer #skincare #healthyskin. This will then add your photo to all galleries featuring these hashtags, making your photo and your business reach thousands of people who may not know of your business yet.
Facebook for Business has many ways you can advertise your business online. You can set up Paid Ads to run for specific time limits, boost only select posts if you only want one thing to blasted out and even set a budget so you don't spend more than you can afford. You can also choose the audience you would like to reach and direct customers to your website. You can control all of this from Facebook's built in Business Manager and it couldn't be easier to figure out. If you need a little help just stop by Barnes and Noble to pick up "The Facebook Guide to Small Business Marketing". This book will give you everything you need to kickstart your Facebook Business Page.
Twitter for Business has many ways to help you with your advertising. It is divided into 6 different sections to help you market yourself; Create a Twitter Presence, Grow a Follower Base, Drive Website Clicks, Increase Tweet Engagements, Drive App Installs, and Find Leads on Twitter.
There are so many other budget friendly ways you can build your business and I would encourage you to take these base ideas and customize them to your needs. Research is also key. Look for different and unique ways to get your business out there, treat your customers well, work hard and people will notice.
Check back next week when we discuss building the perfect Wedding Website!
As always please leave comments below!