When you’re running a small business, your time is spread thin. From task management to processing payroll—not to mention dedicating hours to perfecting your business strategy—finding time to grow your marketing efforts might seem impossible.
But local brand awareness and marketing are important for businesses of any size—14 percent of small businesses fail due to poor marketing. Getting customers through your door is probably one of your biggest goals, and marketing is one of the easiest ways to make that happen. You don’t have to be a marketing connoisseur either, just a few small marketing hacks can help you attract new customers and keep your current customers coming back. Read on for five low-cost marketing ideas you can add to your business strategy today.
1. Use Your Employees as Brand Ambassadors
Your employees are one of your greatest marketing assets. Don’t overlook word-of-mouth as a marketing strategy—88 percent of consumers place the highest level of trust in word-of-mouth recommendations from people they know. Take time to properly educate your employees on your business’s mission and goals, showing them how they can help spread the word outside of work. Whether that’s having them share your social media pages or asking them to distribute a special “friends and family” promotion code or offer, empowering your employees to act as brand ambassadors will not only help you attract new customers, but will also make your employees feel more valued.
2. Get Savvy with Social Media Marketing
If your business isn’t on social media, join today. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are effective, not to mention free, marketing tools that will help you connect with your current customers and attract new ones. Don’t overlook the basics, like updating your social pages with accurate business hours and contact information. Customers are likely to use them as the go-to source of information on your business, so take advantage of sharing updates like menu changes or upcoming events.
Set specific goals and objectives for your social media pages and do some research on what your competitors are doing online. A recent survey showed that 93 percent of people who follow small and medium-sized businesses on Twitter plan to purchase from them—so it’s important to build relationships and keep your followers informed. Engage your audience with both relevant stories about your community involvement and links to your next online sale.
3. Update Your Website and Sell Online
97 percent of people learn about local businesses online more than anywhere else. Your customers expect that your business will have a website—and if they can’t find one, digitally savvy consumers will take their business elsewhere. Your website allows customers to reach your business 24/7. Make sure it has all the basic information they might be looking for, and if you’re not selling online already, start today.
Aside from selling your product or service online, your website serves as a touchpoint that gives you the opportunity to offer your customers something of value. Leverage visuals to show your customers your business, and if you’re an expert in something—whether that’s hamburgers or candles—tell your audience about it. Do a little digging into Google keywords that are relevant to your business, and you can increase your search engine rankings too.
4. Boost Customer Retention with Specials and Promotions
The probability of selling to a repeat customer is 60 to 70 percent, while the probability of selling to a new customer is 5 to 20 percent. Keep your current customers coming back by boosting loyalty through special promotions or a rewards program. Consumers like to feel like they are part of an exclusive club and reward programs help to keep your customers engaged with your business. Once your business is online, promote special offers on your social media channels to incentivize your followers to like, follow, and share your social posts. Consider adding a coupon to your website to increase web traffic as well. If you collect your customers’ information for a loyalty program, consider leveraging email marketing to send exclusive offers and invites to your customer base.
Did you know that 91 percent of small business owners give back to their communities? Explore new ways to stay connected with your community and grow your network of customers, like marketing programs that connect cause-drive customers with your business.
5. Manage Your Business Listings on 3rd Party Sites
From Yelp to Angie’s List to your local chamber of commerce’s website, there are many popular 3rd party websites and online directories that your business can be listed on at no charge to you. There’s a good chance your business already has a presence on some of them, so make sure you officially claim your business on sites like Google My Business and Apple Maps to keep your business information up to date. It’s important to take ownership over those listings so you can effectively control the messaging, communicate with current and potential customers, and update your seasonal business hours.
Encourage happy customers to leave reviews for your business—86 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses before they make a purchasing decision. Not only does a positive reputation online increase customers’ trust in your business, but it will also lift your business in local search rankings.
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