Taking the plunge and starting your own business is exciting. Being able to take full control of the product or service that you are selling is a satisfying experience. If you are used to life in a confined cubicle, it can be very liberatin
g to finally go out on your own. If you have ever started a small business or been involved with a start-up, it is likely that you already know how difficult it can be to promote your product with little funds available. When nobody has ever heard of your brand and youâ€™re competing against some well-established players, itâ€™s easy to feel like you are facing an uphill struggle to get established. Fortunately, the Internet today provides many inexpensive and free tools that you can take advantage of and use for marketing your business. With some creativity and ingenuity, you can gain maximum exposure spending a minimal amount of money. Bear in mind that you can save on cash but the hard work still has to be done. Below are six suggestions to help you market your small business with limited funds.
1. Identify your target customers. Yes, this sounds like an obvious thing to do but it is often a step that is rushed by eager entrepreneurs. The better that you know your target customer, the better that you can target them. Marketers and designers often create personas around their target customers where they really drill into the details of who they are targeting. Creating personas involves going beyond gender and age. Questions to consider include where your customers work, what type of car they drive, what they do at the weekends and where they like to go on holiday. Imagine what a day in the life of your target customer looks like from the time that they wake up until the time that they go to bed. Explore their habits, likes and dislikes. You will begin to see opportunities to market to your customers that you might have missed before.
2. Take the time to talk on Twitter. Think back to a time when you received good customer service at a store. What made the service stand out to you? Aim to make your customers feel as appreciated on Twitter as you do when you shop at your favourite store. If a follower has a question or an issue that needs solving, be sure to address it quickly. If a follower gives your business a compliment, retweet it and be sure to thank them. Twitter is not all about you and your brand, it is also an opportunity to have a casual conversation. You know that feeling when you visit your local coffee store and the barista engages in a little chit-chat with you in between making your coffee? It leaves you feeling good doesnâ€™t it? Being genuinely interested in what other people are up to is always a nice thing. Ask questions, make observations and interact. Successful brands today make a personal connection with their customers.
3. Provide interesting content. If you want to increase your brand awareness and establish yourself as a leader in your industry, provide useful content on your website. Make your website not just a destination for a product or service, but also a trusted source for valuable information. Content is constantly being churned out on the web but good content is hard to find. If you consistently produce useful information, you will soon find yourself creating a community. Y Combinator is well known within the tech community, but Hacker News (its social news website) has contributed considerably to increasing its brand awareness.
4. Print some business cards and attend some events. If you canâ€™t afford to attend conferences at this point in your entrepreneurial journey, look for interesting events on Meetup and go meet people. Itâ€™s a good way to spread the word about your business and also learn from other people and their experiences. Some events on Meetup even allow you to pitch and present your business in front of an audience.
5. Sit in the directorâ€™s seat and make a YouTube video. Despite what you might have heard, itâ€™s not â€˜easyâ€™ to make a viral video. However, it is one of the most powerful ways with little to no budget to spread awareness of your brand extremely fast. Get creative and have some fun. Most people have digital cameras these days, which can be used to record videos. Many smartphones can also be used for recording videos. There is a vast selection of free editing tools available online for touching up your videos.
6. Build your own website for your small business and increase its online visibility. If you are only operating offline, you are losing a considerable amount of revenue from online sales. If you want to save the money needed to hire a developer/designer, online website builders such as BaseKit make creating a website easy. If you are not technically minded, itâ€™s understandable that you might feel out of your depth building a website of your own. The good thing with todayâ€™s online website builders is that they are reasonably priced, easy to use and give you complete control over the way your site looks.
Wade writes about business, design and creative marketing at BaseKit – an online website builder!