One of the biggest problems facing small business owners is how to plan an effective marketing strategy on a shoestring. The good news is that it’s now easier than ever to get your message across without spending a fortune on advertising. Sure, you’ve got to apply some time and effort but if you’re prepared to put the hours in, you could transform your business in a matter of months.
Turn your website into an invaluable resource for your customers. Too many companies make the mistake of thinking their website ought to be all about them, when it should be delivering content that’s 100% focused on solving customer problems. So don’t limit yourself to selling products or services – use your web presence to build your brand and engage with customers by giving them what they need. Think about the issues that are important to your customers and use your expertise to solve their problems. If you become the go-to-guys for advice, you’ll become the default supplier, too.
You can’t just build a website and expect customers to start queuing up, though. To showcase your services for the lowest cost, you’ll need to get to grips with social media. Don’t overload yourself – just pick two or three platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, for example and aim to post once a day as well as sharing and retweeting others’ info. Social media isn’t about the hard sell, so don’t be tempted to tweet incessantly about how brilliant your company is all the time. Instead, share insights, pictures and advice and point to free resources on your website – build up your profile and you’ll attract a loyal following.
Create instructional videos. Video content is valuable – it doesn’t need to be shot by a professional and you can use video hosting tools like Wistia to post your films and playlists to your website or share on social media. Set up a channel on YouTube or Vimeo and use the platform to provide information and advice: ‘how to’ videos are particularly popular. If the thought of putting your thoughts on film terrifies you, think about creating slideshows instead and post them to Slideshare.
If you’ve spent time – or money – creating great content such as blog posts, reviews, features and studies, don’t use it once and consign it to the archive. Think of ways you can repurpose your work to push it out to a new audience. Make a podcast out of a blog and post it to your site using Podsnack, think about compiling your posts into an ebook or set up a ‘tip station’ where customers can access free nuggets of information. All your blogs can be re-used in an email marketing piece.
Make a list
Speaking of which, email marketing is probably the most potent of your free marketing tools. It’s a great way to engage with prospective customers and to maintain contact with existing ones. To persuade people to sign up, try offering a free ebook. Use a free platform like Mailchimp to send your emails but it’s not the time for hard selling. Customers will switch off in a heartbeat if they receive a daily email containing a list of today’s special offers. Instead, use the connection to build loyalty and trust by delivering something of value.