If you’re a small business owner, you’re probably wondering where you can get the biggest bang for your buck with your marketing dollars, to allow sustainable growth now and in the future. As a marketing professional and small business owner myself, I understand the importance of making the most from a limited marketing budget.
What you need is to ensure that you have a great business plan. It doesn’t have to be a document that you would use as a door-stop just a few pages, but it needs to take into account the following:-
- type of business
- target market
- client or customer profile
- possible growth areas
- risks in your market
The good news for today’s small business owner is that the Internet and local advertising can provide targeted reach at a reasonable cost. In particular, email, social media marketing, and classified advertising, can generate huge returns for your business.
Email Marketing: nearly 145 billion emails are sent to consumers and businesses each day. As many as 65 percent of these emails are considered SPAM and about 20 % are automatically tagged as such– making their way into the SPAM mailbox of your everyday email client. People are spending on average 11.2 hours per week reading and answering email.
What most email marketers fail to tell you is that the most productive email solicitations don’t come from businesses, they come from word-of-mouth or viral marketing. Viral marketing is the practice of telling others about a positive experience. A great example is Dropbox- for every friend or colleague you refer to them they give you some free storage. You can do this too with your products, brands or services.
As a small business owner, you can take advantage of email marketing by simply encouraging those who receive your emails to forward them to a friend.
You can devise contests and giveaways and ensure that they have value attached to them. The worst thing you can do is give away something, and people do not see any value in them. There are software tools available that track referrals and give away your prizes automatically, with full reporting tools. I use Upviral in my own business and have seen some great ROI since using it.
Also, tag your web pages with a “tell a friend” button which allows for easy emailing of a web page, URL, PDF, or related document or put some social share buttons on your website. Don’t forget your email signature too with live links to your website or offers. These features cost little or nothing to implement and can generate impressive results.
Internet Marketing: small business owners often worry about the topic of Internet marketing. It can be an effective tool if used properly. There are a variety of Internet marketing vehicles. These include “pay-for” Internet marketing options such as Google AdSense, AdWords, Bing, Radio and Yahoo. Media buying consists of large websites or email newsletters where you can buy placement to advertise your services or products. There are free or cost neutral options too.
In Internet marketing, there are a couple of techniques that are highly effective and cost little or nothing to implement.
The first and most popular is article writing. Are you a subject matter expert? If you are, provide articles to other well-known blogs and websites that can get your company name and URL out there. Sign up for a Gravatar profile- this can be done for free. It enables you to create an author profile by putting a bio and signature link so whenever you write some content to a site your name will show up in the signature. The added benefits of having other sites link to your website increases your site’s link popularity scores and build credibility.
The second Internet marketing strategy that can drive your business is to have partners to sell your products and services for a commission. Think of them as agents. They do the advertising and selling on your behalf.
Still one of the best and most affordable ways to sell your product is with classified advertising. It can be effective if you run your ad for multiple weeks. For as little as $30 per week or less, you can get your company name, product, website, or other unique identifier in front of a local audience. It is like anything in marketing; you must test and measure the response.
Marketing doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg for the small business owner. It should be seen as an important way to drive revenue for your business. Look at marketing as an investment. As I said before, for every dollar you invest you must at least get your money back plus more.
If you have little or no money to spend on marketing, be sure to take advantage of email marketing, Internet marketing, and classified ads to drive the success of your business. Also, make sure that everything you distribute (letters, invoices, business cards, and even your voicemail) mentions your company name and website.
If you like what you have read share it with your friends, colleagues and other business owners.
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