Dealing with many different clients over the years, I have learned that most business owners rely only on a few ways to market their businesses. However, there are a number of different strategies that can work more to benefit your business and drive traffic through the door.
Networking is one of those ways. This is one of the most common of all to market your business; however, it is usually poorly executed and not as beneficial as it could be to a startup or growing business. When attending workshops and other business functions, bouncing from person to person is not the best approach. Instead, try mingling with a handful of other business owners and build a relationship and give referrals to other members of the group or to even your customers. Cost: $100 to $200. Benefit: Get to know other business owners and earn referrals.
Word-of-mouth referrals are also one of the most used approaches to adding new clients to a business. This is one of the best approaches to attracting new customers as people are always communicating what they like and dislike with their friends, family and co-workers. There are many days that I am in the office and will ask what everyone is in the mood to have for lunch. We all rave about the best coffee in town, where to find the best burger and where to go when we are on a budget for the week. Cost: $0
Submit press releases to your local paper, magazine or Chamber of Commerce. These places usually welcome new information about the community and want the area to grow and prosper. If you are holding a grand opening, many people in the area will want to know when you are opening or may not even know your business exists. Just make sure when you submit these announcements to publications that you realize it may not make to print within a day or week or even a month. Always submit your notices early, so that if a publication has the staff and room available to help get the word out to the community. Cost: $0; Benefit: Free way to let thousands of people know your business exist.
Social media and email marketing are very useful in today’s market and are often better than cold-calling. Facebook, with over 845 million active monthly users, is a perfect way to start branching out. It costs you nothing to network with people either from the area or to the other side of the U.S. and even across the ocean.
An email newsletter is also a smart way to get your weekly, monthly or bimonthly message to consumers. Many folks now have email on their phones and can receive your message right on their phone without you picking up the phone and calling them. Cost: Social Media $0-$500, Email Marketing $0-$300; Benefit: Another way to reach thousands, even millions of people. If you want the better marketing experiences that you can have with Facebook and email marketing, you may have to pay someone to help you in those areas. Usually web design businesses are fluent in email marketing, digital media and email.
And when it all comes down to it, nothing beats a good deal or giveaway. The most successful marketing strategies that I have seen are ones where the business offers an unbeatable deal and that deal has been marketed and pushed properly. If you just advertise it in the window of your shop telling people that you have a BOGO deal, that is great, but unless every local person knows where you are, and drives by your store on a regular basis, you are not going to get the return you expect. There are many great ways to increase your revenue with a deal or giveaway. Cost: Depends on what deal or giveaway you choose to market with your company. Whichever you choose, just remember to advertise it in some way with the other marketing solutions in this list. Benefit: If properly marketed, this is the most beneficial marketing strategy of all. People love freebies and a good deal.
Lastly, sponsor shows, races or other events and happenings. You don’t have to give a big sum of money to sponsor an event, you could do a trade. This is a good way to promote your business and give back to the community at the same time. Cost: Depends on what your company can afford. Benefit: Brand recognition, satisfaction and helping your community prosper at the same time.
Look for more marketing strategies for your business next month. Until then, keep growing and be creative.
— Rachel Painter-Fields owns a graphic and web design business in Harpers Ferry.