The typical small business owner does not have a huge budget for marketing, especially in the early phases of the business. Yet, without new clients the business cannot survive or thrive, so marketing is a must. Here are some high impact - low cost marketing strategies to get you through the early years. This will be a 4 part series..... and I will start first with Old Media, because I think we are forgetting some tried and true marketing methods in favor of the New.
Select a neighborhood or a few neighborhoods that you would like to target for business, and put together a campaign. Your campaign can consist of knocking on doors, leaving door hangers or small bags with info, menus, coupons, grand opening specials, refrigerator magnets, etc on the door. To get the best value for your efforts, try to talk with everyone in the neighborhood personally, and leave something every 2-3 weeks for the first few months. After you have "established" yourself or your business in the neighborhood, you can market less frequently incorporate some direct mail, and/ or hire someone to walk the neighborhoods for you.
Create Media Hype
Send press releases to all regional and local newspapers and publications. Create a "newsworthy" story for your business, and this will go a long way to help you build awareness for your business in the community.
Find ways to promote your business inexpensively within the community; through fundraisers, festivals, conferences, chamber events, networking events, and more. Look for events with a large draw and low exhibitor fees. Use a personal touch to engage your prospects.
Can you get the endorsement of a local celebrity? This may be easier than it sounds and free or inexpensive. Offer free products in exchange for their endorsement. Do you already have a well-known client? Ask your friends for help.
Consider Radio Advertising Radio advertising is typically much less expensive than television, and allows you to target your demographic well.
Print Advertising and Direct Mail
Be very selective with print advertising and direct mail. Both can be expensive with minimal results when not used correctly. Consider using coupons as part of your ad. or direct mail promotion to help drive traffic to your business. Print advertising and direct mail are best reserved for those with a very focused market and a focused audience. If your audience is broad, and a publication or mailing list is broad... marketing dollars may be better spent in some of the other areas mentioned.
Next Week: Part 2: Business to Business...Old Media
Amanda Wodzenski is a regular blogger for the WSBA, and the owner of CRMastermind, a consulting company that specializes in CRM and e-mail marketing for Small Business. Visit her blog Your Small Biz Technocoach.