Running a small business can be challenging but extremely fun and rewarding. One of THE most essential tasks for any business, big or small, is producing and working to a marketing strategy.
Having a clear cut brand, knowing your audience and planning ahead will help to make your business flourish. But the vital task of marketing can be perceived to be expensive, leaving some business owners running for the hills at the thought of making any sort of investment.
The good news is, marketing doesn’t have to be costly, and while it’s critical to put aside some budget for your marketing activities, there are tools and initiatives out there that are either completely free or won’t cost your business the earth.
1 – Get Social!
There are a whole host of free social media platforms out there that can be utilised to promote your product or service effectively. Each platform is tailored to a particular type of audience, so make sure that you do your research and understand which is right for you.
Being on one or two platforms that are relevant to you and your business is far more beneficial than being on five with some that are totally inappropriate. Be selective and know which suits your business. For example, if you work in professional services, LinkedIn and Twitter are ideal. If your business is more creative, and you have the opportunity to produce great imagery, Instagram is definitely the way to go.
2 – Have a Personal LinkedIn Profile
Having a professional LinkedIn profile can pay dividends. Users of the platform are there because they are business focussed. As such, they are looking to promote and engage with other companies on a professional level.
Again, having a professional profile is completely free. There is the option to upgrade to a Premium profile for a fee, which offers additional features including full visibility of who has viewed your profile and on-demand courses to help further your career and enhance your CV.
Joining and partaking in LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your industry can help you develop business relationships and position yourself as a thought leader in your space too.
3 – Network In Person
If you can spare the time, attending regular networking groups is a fantastic way of meeting other businesses and getting your face and your brand known.
Pretty much every city going will offer a range of networking opportunities. Some are free; others paid for on a membership or ad-hoc basis. Search the web and find out which ones are near you and start to attend some that you feel would be worthwhile.
Don’t forget to take your business cards or printed hand-outs if you have some so people that you speak to can take contact details and a bit more about your business away with them. Also, make sure you get others business cards too. Follow up with anyone of interest after the meeting and start to develop those all-important relationships. Who knows where they might lead!
4 – Blog About the Things that Matter
Regularly updating a blog and sharing this on your social platforms will not only help to keep your website up to date and benefit your organic SEO results but can also help you position yourself as an industry expert.
When looking to create blog content ideas, think about the subjects your audience and prospects are interested in and would find useful. The most important thing to remember when producing your blog is to offer value and experience. If you’re able to demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about when creating your blogs, people are far more likely to want to engage with you and your business.
5 – Market Your Business via Email
Keeping in touch with existing customers and contacts that you’ve made is essential, and one way to do this easily (and for free!) is to market to them via email.
Email marketing platforms like MailChimp offer FOC packages. You can easily design great looking email templates to produce regular e-newsletters, advisory content and updates about your business or services. The analytics feature on the platform will give you valuable insights. Finding out who has opened your email, and which recipients have clicked on any links within it, means you can further tailor your sales or marketing approach based on this data.
6 – Create Your Own Podcast
The use of podcasts in marketing has been around for some time. Many brands now see this tactic as an essential part of their marketing strategy.
But what’s so great about them? Well, again, there are free options to get you started, including Anchor, which is simple to use and offers a range of analytics and promotional features. But moreover, people are often looking for different ways of consuming content, making podcasts an excellent option for education on the go!
Work on the same basis as your written blogs, and test out another marketing medium that can help raise yours and your businesses profile from the comfort of your office!
The list of tactics you can employ as part of your marketing strategy is vast. Be sure to try out what works best for you and your business, when you find what’s working, keep doing it! Plan out your activities on a weekly or monthly basis and keep an eye on the results, safe in the knowledge that marketing your small business doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank!
Sophie Walton, Marketing Consultant and Owner of 3twelve
Sophie has worked in the marketing and advertising industry for over 13 years, working at several of the Midlands leading agencies before launching her own, 3twelve, in November 2016. Sophie has also recently launched a second business of which she is a Director, an out of home advertising agency, Plainsight Media. She possesses a passion for all things design and marketing and holds particular experience in branding and marketing project management for a range of businesses and sectors. Sophie is also a very proud mum to her 4-year-old boy Jude and wife to Chris, operating her companies from home alongside caring for her family.