How many times have you thought, “I wish my budget was bigger but I just can’t afford (fill in the blank?) And how many times has that same small budget negatively impacted your marketing? As in, you decide not to do it. Unfortunately, with far too many small businesses, marketing is often all or nothing.
But not having a large budget (or any budget) for marketing, doesn’t mean you have to function on a wish and a prayer that your referrals will stack up exponentially year after year until you’re bringing in the big bucks.
Here are ten things you can (and should) do to improve your marketing reach over the next year. All are either free or really inexpensive.
Know your elevator pitch
Okay, at face value this one isn’t really a marketing tactic, but I maintain that you cannot successfully market your business (or yourself) without one. In order to tell everyone who you are and what you do in a way that they not only understand but can relate to, is often called your elevator pitch. This is an incredibly useful tool for small businesses who are trying to separate themselves from local competition.
How do you create a focused, customized, (and truthful) elevator pitch?
Here’s the simple formula I recommend to get really focused on who you are and what you do. Let’s start with my elevator pitch and then break it down.
My name is Rachel and I’m a small business marketing coach. I help small business owners in the health and wellness industry increase customer retention through customized branding and automated marketing so they can increase profits without feeling salesy.
Let’s break it down…
- I am: (include your name and what you do) …a small business marketing coach.
- I help: (short but specific customer description) …small business owners in the health and wellness industry increase customer retention through customized branding and automated marketing
- Why: (why/how you solve their greatest problem.) so they can increase profits without feeling salesy.
Want to test out an elevator pitch and see if it has legs? Or have one that you are already using that brings you great success? Leave it in the comments below!
Leverage your relationships
Introvert or extrovert, it does not matter. As a small business owner, you have that extra gumption to create something from nothing and my guess is you haven’t done this alone. It’s time to tell (or re-tell) all of the people you have met along your business building journey about your business (hey, you can even use that little elevator pitch you just created!) If I had a dollar for every client that was a referral, I’d have a lot of dollars… But seriously, your friends telling their friends about your biz is not only a great way to get off the ground in the early days, but a great way to keep building a consistent, reliable client base.
I know it’s not always easy to ask others to give you a good reference, but if they truly respect you and what you do, they won’t even bat an eye at the chance to help you grow.
Feel like you’re running out of friends to tell about your amazing business? Time to reach out to local organizations. Most medium-to-large cities organize meet-ups for small business owners and entrepreneurs. And don’t sluff off the Chamber of Commerce! Especially if you’re in a smaller town, the Chamber can be an incredible opportunity for marketing, networking and relationship building. Speaking of community…
Build community partnerships
One of the most successful marketing techniques I’ve ever seen was a small business owner who approached a series of larger office buildings requesting an exclusive contract for their employee events. This particular business owner was a floral designer and ended up with a contract to create arrangements for every “Congratulations on your: baby, wedding, anniversary, retirement” event.
Not a floral designer? No worries. Maybe you offer their employees discounted yoga classes, nutrition consulting, lunch-time relaxation retreats… You name it! A large majority of offices today are looking for these types of resources for their employees. Encouraging healthy living is all the rage. Take advantage of that rage and pop on over to the closest business park.
Not ready to leave the office for a face-to-face meeting? Content marketing has you covered.
You’ve heard of content marketing but never really knew what it was or much less how to use it in your small business? My guess is you’ve been content marketing for years… and despite what you may have heard around the water cooler, (organic tea station) content marketing is not dead.
No, my friend. It is more alive than ever. The idea behind content marketing is that you attract an audience by giving them useful information. You then give them more and more useful information in order to position yourself as a reliable, knowledgeable resource in your niche.
Not sure what kind of content you can create? There are dozens of different platforms out there right now. But here are a few of the most popular…
Blogging is alive and well and one of the best ways to showcase your content. Even better, you can turn a blog article into social media content, videos, Facebook Live and InstaStories, or an intro for a speaking engagement. Enter the accessibility of guest blogging and your entire content world just blew up. Hello, web traffic. Nice to see you, SEO ratings. Welcome new customers.
While social media mostly acts as a way to promote your original content, Facebook Live and InstaStories are a great way to get in front of a new audience. As long as you are posting consistent, original content, this 100% counts as content marketing.
Videos are king
Speaking of Facebook Live and InstaStories, why not keep going! Start a YouTube channel, give away snippets of new classes, tours of your storefront or studio, or do a day-in-the-life video blog. Videos are everywhere and the options for getting them out into the world seem to be growing exponentially.
Start with the end in mind
This one is also more of a mindset shift, but in order to maximize your content reach and the amount of traffic through your door, always be thinking about the end result. As long as everything you do is with purpose, you’re miles ahead of your competition.
For example, write an awesome blog post that includes a coupon download. They can bring the coupon into the store for a discounted item or class. While in the store or class offer another (less discounted) item until BAM you have built a relationship with someone who is now a loyal customer for life. Am I over-simplifying this a bit, sure… but not much!
Getting people in the door is the hard part – once you have them, build that relationship. Make them feel important.
Have something to say? A class to teach? A concept that builds the foundation for everything else you sell? Consider jumping into the public speaking circuit. This is a great time to reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce. Many businesses are looking for motivational speakers and your chamber will know who they are.
Not sure if you want to stand in front of a crowd? Reach out to podcasters in your niche and present your topic. My guess is you’ll be surprised how many podcast hosts are looking for a fresh spin on content ideas.
Facebook ads work
Are they free? No. Can you target your audience down to the age, gender, and income level? Yes. Is that an incredibly powerful marketing tool? Absolutely.
Best yet, you set your budget. If you only have $100/month, then that’s what you spend. Once you have success at that level, then you grow from there.
If you decide to go this route, I highly recommend studying up a bit first on best practices and what to avoid. While Facebook has an impressive library of Help content built up, it’s nice to hear it from someone who’s had real success teaching others in the past. Here are a couple of my favorites. (no affiliate attachment what-so-ever.)
In the end, it’s all about becoming a trustworthy resource. If you are in business for the right reasons – to help others, solve a problem, or improve some aspect of their lives – then all you need is five minutes to prove that what you have to offer, works.
Wondering what content marketing tactics might work best for your business? Click here to download the free cheat sheet: