Small business owners often find themselves looking to established companies as models for marketing and strategy examples. Two things to consider here are: 1) What is your marketing budget? 2) What stage is your business in?
Your business decisions & objectives should be in line with the stage of your business- If your business is just starting off and/or have a limited budget, then you might want to look into more cost effective ways to promote your business.
The following are 9 cost effective tips to alternative marketing:
- Utilize New Business Tools - In a world exploding with new ways to grow your business, sites like BizSaves tests out the most innovative and effective business tools out there and makes it easier to try. BizSaves offers a wide range of deals on business tools such as targeted sales leads,text message marketing, web analytics and even an online spokesperson for your site.
- Develop Your 20 second speech - Whether in the elevator, or at a networking event, you will need that 15-20 second sales pitch that quickly hooks in your audience; this form of marketing is termed as your elevator pitch. Practicing and perfecting your pitch will result in you being more confident, informative and effective in swaying your audience to action.
- Business Cards - Business cards for your business; business cards for your employees. Business cards are fundamental to business, yet people often limit their business to one card; usually for the business, or high ranking positions. If your smart, you’ll utilize your employees as free advertising. Who else better to promote your business, then the people that know your business the most?
- Get Active - If you want to be successful in marketing your company, then you need to be active in the clubs and organizations that would be interested in what you do. Join the local chamber of commerce and become active in their functions. If you sell books, then ask to be a library volunteer to help get out among the people in your area that read. Sites such as meetup.com and linked in, are great social outlets that allow individuals to connect with their desired target market.
- Build Your Sales Team - Help people…HELP YOU! In other words, build affiliate partnerships with influential players that could drive traffic to your business. For example: If your a restaurant, create relationships with hotel concierges, tour guides, and office managers. If your in the product business, create as many reseller partnerships as possible.
- Know Your Competition - Establish who your competitors are; and see what effective marketing they are executing; note any inefficiencies. Do any marketing channels exist which have been untapped within your industry?
- Benchmarking Through Social Media - In today’s world, developing your social presence is fundamental. Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin are 3 major players in the social game; each serving a unique purpose. Benchmarking is marketing strategy of identifying industry leaders and undertake such activities that establish you as a direct competitor such as: tweeting, strategic mentions and wall posts. This is particularly effective for start-ups and/or less established brands.
- Ask Your Customers - When talking to customers, ask them how they heard about your business. Instead of wasting precious marketing dollars to something that doesn’t produce customers, your able to pin point what is effective and what isn’t. If you have a site, install an after purchase questionnaire. For traditional “brick and mortar” businesses, place comment cards which they could turn in to win a prize.
- The Power of “Thank You” - Get into a regular regimen of thanking people. Even more powerful, is the “follow up thank you”. As a business, you might be thanking people on a daily basis; at times wholeheartedly and at other times because it’s protocol. Whether its in person, through email, or a gift, making someone feel appreciated and important will strengthen your business relationship and give you more reasons to thank them in the future.