Marketing is hard.
Marketing as a small business?
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You’re probably already on a tight budget.
But you still have competitors to beat out.
Marketing can be quite expensive, but as a small business, if you don’t market yourself and your competitors are, then you’re not doing yourself much of an advantage.
Today, I’m going to run you through a few lesser-known channels that you can utilise. Ones that don’t require a big fat wallet to fund, but will still work like a charm.
It’s no secret that email marketing is one of my most favourite marketing channels. Not just for small businesses but for businesses of any size. Why? Because of one reason. Every other marketing channel below lets you market to an audience that’s out of your control, but with email, that’s all you. As a small business, building up an email list may seem hard at first, especially if you don’t have a fancy website or a hip marketing strategy to drive those sign-ups. But guess what? As a small business, you’re making sales every day, whether you run the local butcher to a small clothing store, people are buying from you every day. So why not collect their information on each sale?
From simply asking them if they would like a small discount to become a member or if they want to get a copy of their receipt sent to their email, you will be able to build up an email list for you to market to in no time.
Once you have the email list, you can start creating a weekly newsletter to showcase your products and suggest to them what they can purchase next. Once you get a bit more advanced, you can create an automated sequence of emails to run each new subscriber on. When that happens, you will be able to literally ‘make money in your sleep’.
An application such as Active Campaign will help you get a foot up with email marketing. Offering features such as built in landing pages and that cool email automation feature I was just talking about, you'll be light years ahead of your competitors who aren't re-marketing to their exisiting customer base.
Similar to email marketing, this is channel is to market to people already in your list. But SMS is slightly different, in terms of the way we use it on a daily basis. As you are sending a text directly to someone’s messages, you will notice the open rates are exponentially higher than email marketing. However, there is a 160 character limit to SMS texts so the messaging is straight to the point - whereas you can send a whole story and sell the customer emotionally via email.
Unlike email marketing, SMS does cost you a small amount to send out, but if the numbers work out, then it’s just a small cost to pay.
So how can you get started? Lucky for you, Active Campaign has a built in SMS marketing platform too, so you can avoid the hassle and manage both email marketing and SMS campaigns on one tool.
If you’re smart enough to dig around the internet to read articles, you probably don’t need me telling you about Facebook, nor about Facebook ads. But that doesn’t mean Facebooks old school now. While every business out there is jumping on Facebook ads and driving the costs up so high that they’re looking money on the sale just to acquire the customer, there’s other ways you can leverage Facebook and make it a profitable and worthwhile advertisement channel.
If you’re on Facebook already, I’m sure you’ll have joined some Facebook groups already. Whether you like to BBQ and joined one of the hundreds of BBQ cooking groups or just your local group for sport, these are places where people get through with a common interest. As a business owner, you can try reaching out to the admins of these Facebook groups and offering a discount for everyone in the group.
That way, for a discount, you will be able to connect directly with everyone in the group and improve your businesses reputation.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the stories of celebrities paying upwards of 1 million dollars for a single Instagram post… and you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you able this channel. But fear not, working with Instagram influencers isn’t just for corporate brands or flashy startups with millions in the bank. There are thousands of accounts with a fraction of the following base, that charges a fraction of the cost of what celebrities will charge. These are called ‘micro-influencers’ and not only are they more affordable, but they are also known to have a more loyal and personal following.
To find them, long gone are the days where you aimlessly hunt around on Instragram and randomly messages accounts to see if they're interested in partnering up.These days, platforms such as Tribe will act as a marketplace for both businesses and influencer accounts to connect and negotiate.
Handy tip: when you pay to work with an influencer, don;'t just simply pay a few hundred dollars and make they post something and end it there. Consider something ongoing and find ways to use the content they're creating in other ways to milk out the value.
Google My Business
Everyone knows about Google… it’s probably how you found this blog in the first place. Have you ever seen that ‘map’ sort of listings when you search for a local business, perhaps when you were finding what to eat nearby or the local plumber’s contact details. Those listings are called Google My Business listings.
Ranking on Google My Business is one of the most effective things you can do for your business. You will appear for all local searches for what you offer and best of all, it’s free.
Similarly, sign your business up and send that verification postcard to your business’s physical address. Once you’ve done so, wait around 2 weeks to get the verification letter, and once you’ve verified the listing, you’re good to go. Optimize the listing as best as you can with your logo and good looking photos of your business and what you sell.
Once your listing is up, start telling your customers to leave a review to let others know how good your business is.
So to round it up, as a small business, you’re probably on a tight budget, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do marketing. Sure you can’t utilise the main marketing channels like your bigger competitors, but if you give the alternative channels a chance, you may find that it’s just as effective, if not, more effective because others aren’t using it.
Felix is the founder of Society of Speed, an automotive journal covering the unique lifestyle of supercar owners. Alongside automotive journalism, Felix recently graduated from university with a finance degree and enjoys helping students and other young founders grow their projects.