Without ways to bring in customers, you will not have much of a business. Marketing is non-negotiable but with all the different expenses associated with running your operation, you may not have as much money as you would like to spend on your marketing efforts. This is especially true if you are just starting out or if you are currently suffering a slow period where revenue is just not what it was. There are lots of ways you can market your business for less, or in some cases, without spending a dime.
One of the best ways to maximize the number of eyes that see what you have to offer while minimizing effort and expense is getting other people to promote your business. Reach out to other local businesses and see about setting up some sort of cross-promotion. Perhaps you could put together some special discount and have the other business hand out a flier, coupon,etc. to all their customers and vice versa.
Supporting fundraisers is another good way to market your business—you will portray your business in a positive light, reach new customers and support a good cause—good karma points there. Local organizations often need funds for their activities and they can host a fundraising night at your restaurant where you donate a portion of the sales to their cause provided a certain amount of money is spent—the best part about this is that the organization will be heavily promoting the event so you do not have to do as much.
Bounce-back marketing techniques can be a highly effective way to keep customers flowing in. They involve offering some sort of promotion after a recent sale to encourage people to come back again very soon. This marketing strategy is most effective for first-time customers or customers who you might otherwise not have used your business. An example of the latter would be if you are a restaurant who caters events, you might consider offering coupons for a meal to the guests to try and turn some of them into regular customers.
Even if you have a local business that serves a limited market, you can still reap benefits from online marketing efforts. Make sure to list your business in free online directories to make it easier for potential customers to find you online, where most people are turning for information of all kinds, especially where to buy the products and services they need. Having a website to showcase your offering is also important—many sites offer free website-building tools so lack of funds is no excuse to not start a website. Running your own blog or guest posting on other blogs is a great way to establish trust and authority, as well as build links to your site for keywords in your niche. Twitter and Facebook are also great to interact with existing customers and find new ones.
Being visible in the community and supporting local causes or the community at large is a great way to market your business, as well as project a good image, which never hurts sales. Offer your products for local charity events or be on hand to give away samples of your products or special coupons. Sponsor someone in the local charity run and have them wear a shirt with your logo on it.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who covers a variety of business topics. Promotional items are a great way to advertise your business and stay in front of your customer’s eyes. Check out promotional pens from ThePenGuy.com