Hang on a minute. Does Marketing Your Small Business 4 Pennies even make sense? It does if you have no marketing budget and are hard-pressed to find new prospective customers. Marketing your small business for pennies is a concept that many very small businesses use to get off the ground.
While traditional marketing and advertising tactics may seem passé, they do have their place and can be very effective for some businesses. But, digital marketing online is proving to be more efficient for the SMB community we serve. Plus, old school tactics tend to be more investment intensive.
Remember Mad Men, the hit TV series that touted the Madison Avenue advertising agencies? It put a big fat spotlight on the old way advertising was done, exhibited by open bars in every account manager’s office and some entitled points of view regarding client profit expectations. And it colorfully illustrated the strategies and tactics of that time. The show was a great cultural and historical lesson but didn’t give today’s small business owner ideas they can use.
There are accessible digital tools all over the internet, and hawkers are pitching them every time you get online. Small and very small businesses are looking for that easy button, the magic bullet that will make everything happen without worry or work. Nothing in business (or in life) works like that. Those shiny objects are only part of a separation strategy; separating you from your money. (Note: request a copy of our book: Shiney Object Syndrome, the Entrepreneur’s Drug of Choice, below).
So, now that we’ve got that part of the discussion behind us, I want to share with you some exciting stuff that you may have overlooked when getting starting.
Marketing Your Small Business 4 Pennies in Tactics
Email is still a game-changing tactic for any SMB B2B marketing looking for consistent growth results, improved customer ebgagement, and is willing to be patient. When planned and executed properly, email marketing can produce substantial returns, especially if your product or service is a proven one, and you leverage those testimonials and reviews in your emails and landing pages. Best of all, the benefits of marketing automation that larger corporations have enjoyed is now financially within reach for SMB’s.
But email is only one of many low-cost processes available to you (and while some email marketing platforms do offer “free” subscriptions, never lose sight of the value of free). And, you still have to invest your time – the only non-reusable resource you have).
As the title of this piece reflects 4 pennies, I’d like to share my four ideas for low and no-cost ways to market.
Marketing Your Small Business 4 Pennies is all about marketing yourself and your business’ products and services every chance you get. And, I’m not talking carrying about business cards in your pocket. You are your brand, so you should carefully craft your message.
1. Crafting Your Statement of Purpose -– that’s what I call the “pitch” or “elevator speech.” It’s the process many business development experts feel is critical to the process of selling. “What’s your elevator speech ” is best understood as stating your purpose in the amount of time to go from one floor to another in an elevator. And in the context of the beneficiary and not you.
I recommend an easy and effective (and free) way to hone your message down to a few seconds. Try this:
HI, I’m _________, and my clients hire me to ______________ , so they can _______________.
Insert your name (not your company, you), and my clients hire me to (fill in your solution to your ideal client’s pain point), so they can (what’s the benefit they get).
Hi, I’m John Hyman, my clients hire me to build their digital presence to help them get found and get growing, so they can expand their brand, business, and revenues to support the lifestyle they crave.
I can communicate this “pitch” in about 5-7 seconds, which is about the attention span of our multi-tasking society has. Naturally, this pitch begs the question, “How do you do that?” When written this way, it opens up a conversation, which is what you are trying to sell at this point.
Remember, they are suspects before they are prospects.
2. Support Local Events –- You have a large number of service clubs or civic organizations, either in or near your town or city. There’s the Rotary, JC’s, Elks, Lions Club, Kiwanis, VFW, Amvets, and so many others. They are always looking for guest presenters, so why not call on them to speak? They don’t charge you anything, and you will probably get breakfast or lunch out of it.
If you aren’t a member of any organizations, find a neighbor or friend that is and ask for an introduction. Most of the members of these clubs and organizations are local business people, and if they use products or services, well, why not yours?
If a local event like a 5K Run/Walk is taking place, sign up. It’s a nominal fee ($5 or $10), but you’ll get to meet a lot of people. Put on a t-shirt with your company logo on the front and back. You’ll get noticed plus you’ll introduce (reinforce) your brand there. And remember, it takes eight to ten “touches” before people notice an opportunity to solve a painful problem, plus people are very distracted. Results from guerilla marketing tactics like this are not always immediate, but developing brand awareness is never a bad thing.
The local newspaper will likely publish a summary of local organization’s meetings; Women’s groups, men’s groups, whatever. Find a reason to go to them at least once and network with those people in attendance.
And remember, a key to Marketing Your Small Business 4 Pennies is the impression you make goes far beyond the people in the room- they also have a professional and personal network you’d like to tap.
Your local Chamber of Commerce usually has a breakfast or luncheon meeting monthly, and many of them allow guests to attend on occasion. Don’t pass this one up. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet the local business professionals that are community involved.
Heck, even the local laundromats usually have bulletin boards for personal advertisements. Create a colorful, eye-catching flyer with tear-off phone number tabs.
3. Co-Marketing – If you have small business friends or associates that regularly market their businesses, gather them together as a co-marketing group. Each company puts in a fixed amount of money for advertising, and include your offers on the flyer, letter, postcard, or which marketing media you think will land where your audiences will see it.
You can include a free discount or a discount coupon. Free samples remove all of the risks and they motivate a purchase. And, when are discount coupons not always welcomed by shoppers? Also, a BOGO (buy one, get one) offers, either get one free or get one for a modest price. You gain incremental revenue from the same transaction. It may not reach your target margin, but everything helps.
The local Blue Envelope that comes in the mail, Valpak, can be an affordable, low-cost way to reach a larger audience, although you won’t be able to gain much in the form of data other than transactions (how many were redeemed) and ROI, but hey, again, everything helps.
Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) offered by the US Post Office is another low-cost path to new customers. The USPS can let you target specific zip codes, neighborhoods (delivery zones) so you can target higher-income areas, more specialized customer types, etc. But more than once we have also proven a better return on investment can be obtained through first class direct mailing if the audience is properly targeted and segmented.
4. Referral Networks – And I don’t mean just asking your family and neighbors. A facilitated or organized networking forum generates a fantastic return on your investment, in terms of capital and time. Marketing your small business 4 pennies relies on you going out into the community and seeking complementary businesses to yours and creating a swap system of referring each other’s business. Also, don’t forget to ask those you come in contact with on a routine basis, an area where email marketing thrives. Remember, somebody usually knows somebody that would be a good match, but they may not think of them immediately. Keep the relationship open and friendly, not pushy, but remind them from time to time you’d appreciate a referral. And focus more on giving referrals than getting referrals; the floodgates will open given time. And don’t overlook social networks in planning this tactic.
Share of Wallet
Most importantly, don’t forget about your existing clientele. Your biggest opportunity for low-cost growth is your existing clientele. Devise opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell. Keep them loyal by performing unexpected extras, a personal card on their birthday or anniversary, little touches every month or two. These little things make a significant impact on people. Encourage them to be your ambassadors to the community by talking you and your business up when they can. Ask them for referrals, in fact, let them know you expect them to from time to time.
“If you achieve top of mind awareness, and always strive to deliver on your promise, success will surely follow.” – John Hyman
Marketing your small business 4 pennies tactics are tried and true methods, and they cost next to nothing (pennies). Here’s one more recommendation. What profits you generate from these activities should be set aside to build a real marketing budget so that when you grow a bit larger, you can add some marketing automation and accelerate your growth even faster.
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