Whether you’ve got a new business or have been in the field a long time, at the end of the day it’s all about finding the right customers and making those sales.
Marketing is important for not only making that first sale, but turning it into repeat business.
The good news is SMEs and home entrepreneurs have never before had so much access to affordable marketing tools.
Here are seven simple things you can do, for next to nothing, to get your business talking to the right people:
1. Practice your message
You have such a short time to grab someone’s attention – about eight seconds. And then you only have one minute to explain your products and services. That’s not a lot of time.
But be sure to also include the ‘why’ of your business. For example, if you started your business due to a troubling life event, share that – it could be the standout difference between your business and someone else’s.
Getting your marketing messaging right and sounding natural takes practice. Get this right and you’ll be able to market your business wherever you go.
2. Network, network, network
Networking is such a great way to market yourself – in person at an event, like a small business expo, or on social media.
The beauty of social media networking is it’s free and you can see it working by how people comment and react. Start a Facebook page and use it to speak to your customers.
But remember social media is not for sales. It’s about building your brand, while being useful and entertaining for your followers.
3. Marketing material
While a lot of business happens online these days, there’s nothing like being able to hand over some marketing material.
For example, a business card is a great way to leave a lasting impression. While the concept of business cards is traditional, you can be as creative as you want.
There’s plenty of online tools for creating and printing your own marketing material, or using templates and having someone print them for you. Avery, for example, has a large range of DIY or ready-made products to help you market yourself.
4. Email marketing
Email marketing is used by 90 per cent of businesses – big and small – with a great return on investment for not much money.
Use your database of existing customers and a provider like MailChimp (it’s free when you have less than 2,000 subscribers) to communicate with them. It’s a great way to remind them about your products/services or special offers, and build lasting relationships with your customers.
5. Engage with your community
We’ve talked about engaging with your online community, but what can you do for your local neighbourhood? Is there a children’s sports team or charity event you can help with by sponsorship or volunteering your time or products?
Think like your customer and understand how they spend their time. Then you can look for ways to get in front of them with your marketing message.
You can build brand trust by showing your support to your community.
6. Be a thought leader
Advertising can be pricey, but writing an article for a publication could be free. Many magazines, particularly online, accept guest contributions and let you promote your business in your bio at the end of the article. Or you can post your own article on social media like LinkedIn.
7. Ask for referrals
Word of mouth is a powerful thing. So, don’t be shy about asking a satisfied customer to write a review on your website or social media. These types of referrals make it easier to get in the door with new customers.
If you aren’t asking for customers for referrals, you may be missing more business opportunities.
Lyndelle Morgan is director of Niche Marketing Group, which she founded in 1991.