As a small business with a modest budget, it can be a real challenge to gain exposure among your target market. In particular, it’s an uphill battle to compete with much larger companies and corporations, who have the funds to invest in major advertising campaigns. Nevertheless, there are ways to effectively market your brand and services beyond mainstream advertising channels, such as television. It just takes a little creativity and resourcefulness, both with offline and online methods.
This is of course easier said than done, and will sometimes still require an element of investment, but it’s possible to achieve positive results without breaking the bank. In this article, we share with you a few such resourceful ways to promote your small business.
YouTube is a hugely popular, free online video platform, making it a lucrative marketing opportunity for businesses of all sizes. By publishing informational or instructional videos on YouTube, you can foster a positive brand image with your target market and drive traffic to your website simultaneously. The idea isn’t to sell – that’s what conventional advertising is for – but to offer the viewer value. If you’re an independent fashion store, for example, you could make style tip videos about color matching, accessorizing, and so on.
Alternatively, if you run an electronics retailer, a great way to boost traffic and your reputation as a trustworthy brand is to film troubleshooting and how-to videos for common electrical problems.
Offline marketing is particularly important for local businesses, for whom generating a buzz in their town or city is vital. In addition to placing adverts and classified listings in local publications, it is good practice to get out and about to spread the word. Guerilla marketing is an effective, low-cost method of stoking people’s curiosity and increasing word-of-mouth publicity. It can be achieved in many different ways, from clever poster designs to sidewalk chalk to flash mobs.
Additionally, make your presence felt in the neighborhood by setting up a stall on your town’s main street, with permission of course. It’s a great opportunity to engage with the public and distribute samples, and propagate your brand image through banners and handing out business cards. These days, online printing companies offer a full range of such materials, so you can cut costs by ordering in bulk.
Using social media isn’t inventive in itself, as its widely recognized by now that businesses should have a presence on social platforms – but it’s the way you use it that counts. Firstly, focus on the platforms most relevant to your target market. If you run a hair salon, for instance, visual platforms such as Instagram not only allow you to showcase your work succinctly, it’s also where you’re likely to attract interested clients.
Secondly, although sharing quality content with well-selected hashtags is a good start, it’s not enough. It’s called ‘social’ media for a reason: the key is to engage with the community. Starting a hashtag for your existing customers to share content of them using your product is a great way to do this, as are content collaborations with other businesses in your niche. Again, for a hair salon, perhaps the brand of hair products you use would be interested in sharing a video of your hair stylists using their products.
More generally, allow your brand personality to shine through in your social media activity. Instigate conversations and discussions with your followers, show the human side of your organization, and don’t be afraid to inject a little humor into your online presence (where appropriate). It’s your opportunity to stand out from the crowd.