Small but Loud
Being a small business, let alone a new business, can feel a bit lonely as you build a client base. No matter how great your concept or how valuable your service or product, you need to get the word out to build a following.
Whether you can afford to advertise or plan to add that expense further down the road, there are low-to-no cost marketing tactics you can put into place in the meantime to help spread the word.
Here are seven tips that tell you how.
Tip #1: Be Social
It really doesn’t matter what you do these days, you need a website, and at a minimum Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Potential customers need to be able to find you when they search for the services or products you sell, and they need to have some place to click through to make sure you are legitimate.
Tip #2: Be Visual
When you have a visual service—as in the case of a hair salon or a landscaping service—take photos or videos of your work, with your customers’ permission, and post. This creates a steady feed of content you own for your company’s Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube pages. When properly hashtagged, you become searchable to those looking for similar services. Better yet, since they have already seen the results your customers receive, it helps sell them on before they ever call you.
Tip #3: Be Active
Once you set up an online identity, maintain it. You needn’t post volumes but use these channels to introduce the community you work in to the personalities behind the company. The more authentic you are and the more you share commentary about why you do what you do and how you do it, the more familiar and likeable your business becomes to potential customers.
Tip #4: Be Connected
To build an online following, you need to share to be shared, like to be liked and follow to be followed. Many businesses—of all sizes and across industries—set aside time each week to like, retweet, comment and share other company’s and individual’s posts. Not only does it build a sense of comradery, it allows you to introduce your brand to new audiences and can lead to future partnerships and valuable resources later on.
Tip # 5: Be Promotional
Offering incentives for those who follow you is a way to expand your following and it gives potential customers a reason to try you out. Many small businesses find success by offering discounts or promo codes in exchange for likes, shares and follows. It also lets you build a marketing list of individuals interested in the type of products or services you offer, which you can use for future incentives.
Tip #6: Be Supportive
If your budget allows for it, sponsoring an event or going old school and sponsoring a Little League team, or a charitable event puts your business’ name in front of people. Whether it’s on a tent, a uniform or the back of a program, you introduce yourself to a new group of prospective customers. Many companies will also show support by designating a portion of their sales for donation to a local and popular charity, like an animal shelter to encourage repeat visits.
Tip #7: Be Reviewed
More consumers, and businesses, go online first to check reviews before making a purchase decision or an appointment with a new vendor. It makes having reviews for your business essential. Ask your current customers to help. Since reviews are an honest reflection of what it is like to do business with you, they also help you pinpoint things about your company that could use improving.
Tip #8 Be Present
Attend workshops, conferences, seminars, even festivals with networking events. The more people get used to seeing you and interacting with you and your firm’s name, the more visible and credible you become. Similarly, Join local Facebook and LinkedIn groups. Establish yourself within your industry as a source of information and a go-to resource for others.
Establishing a reputation and a following take time. However, when it comes to building a thriving business, it’s time well spent.