As many of us experience, marketing for small businesses can be exceptionally difficult. Trying to compete with large corporations seems impossible when they have deep pockets for advertising, access to resources that are way outside our budget. It can often feel like you are driving around in directions because the GPS will not take you to your destination (um…I might have experience in this). One tool can cost thousands of dollars a month, and then it can cost even more to find prospects. Once you factor in the expenses related to selling the product or service, the expense may not make it worthwhile if you cannot sustain it long enough for the necessary results. So, what is a small business to do?
Think Outside the Marketing Box
Since we can’t compete with the big dogs, we need to find places to target where their marketing reach doesn’t cover. For offering products and services, there are areas such as Craigslist, Ebay, and even Amazon (yes, Amazon is now partnering with companies to offer local services…though we’ll discuss that in another post in the future). Some other areas include increasingly popular smartphone or tablet apps like 5Miles and OfferUp. For a quick overview of these, check out my FREE REPORT. By utilizing these FREE resources, you place your name and brand in front of your local community.
Incorporating Alternate Services or Products
While we did not really anticipate this, we opened a resale store at the same location as our security office (because who wants to pay for 2 locations when you can pay for 1). We ended up with leads for the security business from people walking in to purchase items from the resale store because our staff talked to customers about security. We realized that this no-pressure method helped customers ask questions they would not normally ask if we were knocking on doors or cold calling. While these are not related industries, you might look at options for offering a service or product that will draw traffic in to your store or website.
Partnering with Complementary Companies
This is something we do with the local Chamber of Commerce, but there are no rules on when or how you can build a partnership. In another post, I talked about affiliate links. There are companies out there that offer you the ability to generate such affiliate links to provide to others so they earn a set percent or dollar amount of the sale when generating traffic. You can also do this by coupon code, or just have the partner company provide their leads with the company name. Generally, if you do a coupon or special offer, this includes a special price or some other incentive to have the other company refer people to you. Another way to do this is through link sharing (each of you posting the other company’s website link on your page) or advertising for each other in your own location. We continue to build options for link sharing on our website (we have an alleged internet guru in our group that wants to be in charge…and we disagree on how this should work), but we do offer the opportunity for our partners to come into our store and leave their business cards.
Social Media Possibilities when Marketing for Small Businesses
I’m going to be honest that I do not buy into the social media hype for generating new leads. I do think social media is a good way to capture repeat customers and repeat sales, but it is hard to generate a new lead when no one knows you exist. Just putting up social media profiles does not generate traffic. You still have to figure out how to get people to your page so they can follow you, like you, whatever. Regardless, it is still important that you engage in social media. I am always amazed at the number of small businesses that do not have a Facebook page. I have seen companies with awesome looking products that do not have a Pinterest account. No matter what industry you are in, you need to have some sort of social media account (even if you are business to business).
These suggestions are not exhaustive, but they will get you started! If you have something that has worked for you, let me know on my Facebook page!