You are just embarking on the adventure of starting your own business. You’ve weighed the risks, done your research and you’re getting closer to launching. But before you go anywhere, you know you need some tried and true ways to promote your business. You also know you can’t dig too deep into your wallet.
Look no further. We’ve garnered some great advice from experts in the small business world on savvy ways to promote your business. And the best part? You can keep the majority of your start-up cash for other expenses.
7 smart & savvy ways to promote your businessPay attention as our experts suggest some budget-friendly ways to promote your business. You’ll also get some practical tips to making these ideas work for you.
1. Build a website
In today’s world, you probably won’t get very far without a website. Even if the main purpose of your site is to link to an App page, Amazon product or social media account, the general public kind of expects you have one. But it doesn’t have to break the bank.
There are a handful of website builders out there offering deals as low as one dollar per month for the first year, according to Leo Welder, founder of ChooseWhat.com. “This will be the glove that catches the business your marketing efforts create,” he explains.
Pro tip: Use your website to publish content that’s relevant to your company or industry. Not only will this demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership, it will also give Google a chance to recognize and reward your website.
“Devote time to writing and promoting interesting articles for your audience,” suggests Michael Heiligenstein, marketing manager for Fit Small Business. He explains that it will take time to start noticing the benefits of search rankings, but it’s a worthwhile investment in the future of your business.
2. Utilize social media
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are all FREE social media platforms that you should be leveraging as part of your marketing and PR strategy. These are excellent tools for building awareness about your company and interacting with your customers. Depending on your specific product or service, research the best way to build an online presence using one or more of these social networks.
Pro tip: Don’t be a me-monster! It’s important to be genuine, according to Emily Culclasure, marketing cordinator for Doxy.me. Take this opportunity to highlight your brand’s personality and built a rapport with your customers.
“Yes, your ultimate goal is to make sales and promote the brand, but if you're too heavy-handed with a sales pitch on social media, you'll fail,” she says. Instead, she suggests focusing on your customers’ wants and needs. Post things that are engaging, entertaining and interactive for your audience – even if they have nothing to do with your company or product!
“Yes, your ultimate goal is to make sales and promote the brand, but if you're too heavy-handed with a sales pitch on social media, you'll fail.”
3. Advertise online
Depending on how and where you advertise online, it can be very reasonably priced and very informative. Facebook, for instance, is a great tool for seeing which ads work to capture your target audience.
“Facebook has the greatest depth of targeting data available, allowing business owners the ability to test different messages, offers, etc. against an audience,” says Chris Boulas, founder and president of Formulytic. Besides, a good portion of your audience is likely using the social network already, so why not meet them where they are?
Pro tip: Get scientific with it. Create a few different versions of ads with a small budget and switch out just one thing, like the picture or the headline. Continue testing different variations until you find the ad that proves most effective.
4. Collaborate with like-minded businesses
Work together with other small business owners and collaborate on ways to draw your audience and future customers in. For brick and mortar businesses, this might include collaborating on weekend sales events. Online it could be as simple as sharing each other’s content.
Pro tip: If you have a blog, invite someone who shares a similar group of followers to contribute an article for you about a relevant topic, recommends Cristina, owner of Sombras Blancas Art & Design. You can return the favor and it’s a win-win for both parties. “Both of you will get extra exposure through each other followers,” she explains.
5. Connect with local media
The local media can be a great asset for informing your future customers to your existence and contribution to the community. Follow them on social media and comment on stories they’ve published, recommends Michelle Bonner, former ESPN news anchor and founder of Bonner Consulting Group. “Essentially, become ‘friends’ with them,” she says.
Pro tip: When pitching a story to local media, never leave out the ‘why.’ “Everyone believes in their business and believes their story is awesome,” Bonner says. “But the media get pitched a LOT … The why is super important. Why should your story be told?”
6. Leverage referrals
“The best business comes from customers like the ones you already have, so go to the source,” says Ryan Ruud, CEO and founder of Lake One. Ask existing clients for recommendations and offer incentives for them to do so. You’ll be surprised how powerful word-of-mouth advertising can be.
Pro tip: Provide easy ways for your customers to tell others about you. Make sure your Facebook page includes reviews. Send out emails to past customers with coupons they can share and ask pleased customers for quotes to include on your website.
“The best business comes from customers like the ones you already have, so go to the source.”
7. Contribute to others’ success
It doesn’t take much these days to give an individual or business a public shout-out. If you’ve enjoyed another product or service, say something online. Link to their page and share their information.
“Nice pays dividends,” Cuclasure says. “Always, always be friendly and professional!”
Pro tip: Twitter is a great way to help others out. A simple re-tweet from time to time shows others that you’re interested in what they’re doing and helps them spread the word. When they periodically see your name in notifications, you’ll stay top of mind. You never know, you may earn some twitter love in return!
The next step to a savvy businessNow that you have some simple, low-cost ways to promote your business, what is your next step? If you truly want to launch a thriving business, you need to know how to manage people effectively. Check out our article for some tips: How to Become a Better Manager: 6 Tricks to Help you Lead.