Marketing a small business isn’t easy.
There are tight budgets to worry about, niche markets to satisfy, and the constant demands of other marketing obligations.
But on the flip side, marketing a small business is incredibly exhilarating. In a small business context, it’s much easier to see the immediate impact of a marketing initiative.
The underused tactics shared in this article are just that — marketing initiatives that make an impact.
1. Send handwritten letters with a photo.
Sound crazy? Sound like writer’s cramp? You might be right, but you’d be wrong not to try this technique.
Most small businesses are content to paper neighborhoods with big, expensive, high-gloss marketing mailings.
Maybe you can try a different approach. Go on a note-writing spree, find a relevant message to share with your community, and include a photo of your family, your small business location, or your team.
And don’t forget to smile!
2. Sponsor a kids day.
What do kids love? Bounce houses, balloons, candy, and games.
What do parents love? Taking their kids to the aforementioned events for free.
What are you waiting for? Rent a few bounce houses, hire a balloon artist, and turn up the music. A rousing kids day at your place of business is good clean fun. Plus, it showers your business with the good graces of kids and parents alike.
3. Host a block party.
Why is it that residential neighborhoods get to have all the fun? Get your small business in party mode.
You can start a party wherever you are. Invite other local businesses, rent a barbecue barrel, prepare some free soft drinks, and have some fun!
If you’re lucky, you might even get some news coverage!
4. Give stuff away.
What do Ben & Jerry’s, Chick-Fil-A, and Costco all have in common?
They give away darn good food. Literally. It’s free.
If this give-it-away strategy wasn't working, they would have stopped a long time ago. But each of these for-profit businesses are still thriving, and still giving away tasty morsels to anyone who’s eager to stand in line.
Just give stuff away at farmer’s markets, trade shows, community events, or your storefront.
5. Run for office, or lead an organization.
Maybe you don’t have the time to be the president of the United States, and that’s fine. It can take up a lot of time.
But what about your local community? Are there ways to be involved in clubs, civic organizations, small city government positions, or the like?
Your personal brand matters just as much as — if not more than — your business brand. By expanding your personal role in the community, you can help grow your business.
6. Find speaking engagements.
Another connective point between your personal brand and your business brand is public speaking.
If public speaking simply isn’t your thing, you can skip to the next section. If I caught your attention, then here are my tips:
Start by speaking at community colleges. Many small schools are eager to hear from local businesspeople, especially if your skill set and experience is relevant to a class.
Submit pitches. Submit a speaking pitch for local events and conferences.
Become a sponsor for local conferences. Often, the reward for your sponsorship is a brief speaking session about your business.
Get involved in community groups and clubs. Most organizations aren’t posting speaking opportunities online. You have to be connected to find the opportunities.
Just ask. Find a well-connected person, and ask them about speaking opportunities. And if you don’t know any well-connected people, your local library may be a suitable starting place.
7. Get involved in a community cause.
Pick one worthy cause to get excited about, and go do it. Your business can become the go-to champion for cleaning up the riverside, donating blood, combating homelessness, protecting stray animals, recycling old computers, or building more green spaces.
When a business develops a passion for the community, it fosters a sense of goodwill and respect.
8. Place your business logo and contact information on your vehicle.
You might be surprised at the kind of visibility you’ll get when you put your phone number on your vehicle. People might be curious and give you a call. Drivers might be bored and give you a call (using their hands-free device, of course). In serendipitous moments, someone who needs your product or service will see your information and use it.
It can’t hurt to try. You can create magnets or decals for just a few bucks. In no time, you’ll be driving along with major marketing mojo.
9. Offer free consultations.
There are people in your community who want your advice. Give it to them for free.
Solid advice is hard to come by, especially if it is offered at no cost. Take the knowledge or experience that you’ve gained, and give it to those who need it.
No obligation, no cost, and no-sales-pitch consulting sessions could be the best thing that ever happened to your business.
Some businesses offer workshops as a form of consultation. Instead of one-on-one sessions, they provide a free talk in their area of expertise — office wellness, children’s nutrition, investment strategies, home-improvement ideas, etc.
It doesn’t hurt to offer free coffee and donuts.
10. Host a meetup.
Local meetups are growing in popularity. Many of us are discovering that Facebook is a weak substitute for real face-to-face conversations.
Try hosting a meetup in your community. Select a relevant topic, pick a pleasant forum, and spread the word. It’s a simple and straightforward way to generate social buzz and make your business a community connector.
Remember, your marketing doesn’t start with tactics.
Marketing, regardless of its form, starts with a deep understanding of two things:
1) your business goals, and 2) your target customer.
Once you have these two things firmly in mind, it’s time to unleash the marketing machine.
Looking for ways to market your company? Contact Group 5 West. We will help you form a marketing plan and strategize for long-term success.
810 WEST SECOND STREET • LITTLE ROCK, AR 72201 • 501.372.7151 • 501.372.3089 (f)
MEMPHIS, TN 38018 • 901.624.3956 • www.groupfivewest.com