As a small business owner, the one thing you probably lack is a large marketing budget, which is more than reasonable when considering that there are a hundred different things that require your full attention and resources.
Which is why you should do your best to exhaust every other alternative before opting for a mainstream marketing strategy that will continuously take a large part of your earnings for very little in return. What we will be discussing today are some extremely cost-effective alternatives that can hopefully show how to get and then maintain a loyal following without spending thousands of dollars.
Most of these are Small business marketing tips but they will work for all others as well.
Search Engine Optimization
I’m sure you have probably heard about SEO optimization in every other article as well, but there is a good reason for that. Search Engine Optimization, like the name suggests, will make sure that your websites, pages, blogs, and posts are discovered faster in search engines like google and Bing’s search results and hopefully shown at or near the top of the page.
The higher their ranking, the more chances of them being discovered by more and more people and in return, further increasing their own position and page authority. So you can imagine why it is stressed upon so much by industry specialists. Not to mention it doesn’t have to cost anything and can be done relatively quickly if you don’t mind learning a few new things.
Basis of SEO is pretty simple. The first thing you have to do is make sure your website is using all the necessary tools. If it’s built on something like WordPress or Wix then you have the option to use SEO plugins without any additional cost. These plugins will take care of all the basic stuff like creating sitemaps and optimizing formats and guide you with the rest of the process as much as possible.
Then come all your other social media pages. Whether you use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any of the others, SEO can be done in every single one of them.
For Instagram, you can start by using Hashtags. They connect all of your posts together, making it easier to share and be discovered by others even if by accident. Another option is by optimizing the descriptions of images to be as accurate and inclusive as possible of every subject matter. This way the chances of them being discovered through google image search increase by leaps and bounds.
All public Facebook groups, pages, and posts can be shown as a result in Google searches so it’s a good idea to use the same SEO techniques you would for your official website. The content length doesn’t matter as long as it is SEO friendly.
Use Social Media to its Fullest Extent
If you haven’t done so already, get on every social media platform you can. But before you do so, its best if you understand which platform is most likely to have your target audience.
Let’s take Facebook for example. A car mechanic will surely see more visits and clicks on a platform like Facebook where there are people from every walk of life. But doing the same on Instagram or Snapchat won’t net you the same result as the majority of the users are young teens that either just don’t own a car or simply aren’t interested in seeing anything related to your business.
That’s why although it’s a good idea to be present on every platform, focusing the majority of your efforts on one platform that is going to be most beneficial and responsive to your efforts is the better option.
For all businesses, whether they are large corporations or up and coming businesses, customer engagement is the solution to most of your problems. Its anywhere from 5 to 20 times more expensive to acquire new clients than it is to keep old ones. That’s why focusing efforts to retain clients by increasing customer engagement through any number of techniques is advised at every stage.
Post interesting content on your social media pages that are connected to your field. If you have the time to spare or the resources to hire someone, start a blog and post regularly. It doesn’t have to be too often at the start and you can go slow, but pick up the pace as you get used to it and set yourself apart from the competition by showcasing your own set of unique skills through different methods.
Talk about topics that interest you or you know about. Give advice or ask for it from the experts and continue developing your brand through it.
Online contests are a great way to boost your following without opting for paid advertisements. You will have to fork out a bit for the final prize but that’s still cheaper than buying clicks and views.
There is no need to use something expensive as the final prize and instead opting for a trendy item or even something you make yourself, i.e., your product or service is a great idea. Going by the previous example of a car mechanic, the final prize can be something along the lines of a full tune-up or service for the winner’s vehicle.
This not only directly promotes your own product/service but also saves you from spending on another item. Its basically free publicity. If you’re not sure how to get started, RaffleCopter is a great little service that takes care of the entire process and even has the option to share it on all your social media platforms.
No one can do everything by themselves. Sooner or later you will need help and teaming up with another business that is in the same field can help create a symbiotic relationship where both parties benefit greatly.
Creating strategic partnerships has many advantages while doesn’t require as much work on your part. Your business is able to receive twice as much notice and partnering with an industry-relevant business will also introduce you to an entirely new audience that is looking for something in your area of specialties.
Continuing from the previous example once again, a car mechanic can partner with a car dealership and have access to an exclusive audience that would usually be out of reach. And you can even go a step further and give discounts or offer special pricing to the customers that are referred to you by the partner.
Speaking of referral programs, they should not only be limited to your partnerships. Under normal circumstances even if customers like what you have to offer, they still wouldn’t just refer your services without a reason. So why not give them one?
You have a lot of freedom when it comes to designing referral programs but the one thing that should be kept in mind is the reward. It has to be enticing enough for your customers to consider referring new clients but not too enticing that they should start a campaign of their own and refer every random person. What you’re looking for is someone that will stick even after the initial purchase.
And studies have shown that referred customers have much higher brand loyalty from the get-go and larger profit margins without much work from your side. And not only this, but it would also increase the loyalty of your existing customers once they have a more vested interest in your brand.
Plus with the dozens of different software out there that are designed for the sole purpose of setting up and maintaining such referral programs, there really is no reason for you to not at least try it out.
Paid Search Discovery/advertising
After exhausting all other methods you can finally focus on some cost-effective advertising alternatives to the more mainstream strategies. Although they won’t be free, it still shouldn’t break your bank any time soon.
All major platforms offer a few deals for smaller businesses. They give you the option to target a specific demographic and you won’t be charged unless someone clicks on the advertisement. Google and Facebook are way ahead of the competition in this area as they have developed specialized algorithms that use the entirety of their massive databases and search for individuals that are looking for your exact products.
This way you won’t simply get random clicks but only actual leads that have a very high chance of making a purchase will be redirected to your business. It’s one of the best ways to get a good return on investment, other than text-based marketing of course.
If you’re like me and knew nothing about text marketing until recently, then you’re in for a pleasant surprise. In the last few years, there have been a lot of new and old marketing strategies that have seen a sudden boost in popularity, and SMS marketing is one of the older ones. It has been around for a couple of decades now but only now has it really caught on, especially with the smaller to medium-sized business market for the following few reasons:
The Cheaper Alternative…