As a business owner you know that marketing is one of the most integral parts of driving your bottom line. Sales keep you in business, but marketing keeps you in sales. However, marketing does not have to be expensive. In fact some of the best ways to build a small business are through inexpensive marketing strategies. Listed below are some great ways to build your business without burning a hole in your pocket.
Chamber of Commerce Councils:
The general chamber can be too big and not worth the effort if you're in the city (Jacksonville is second largest in the US for example). I suggest starting by choosing a local council to get involved with. For those in Jacksonville, check out the following link which has a listing. (http://www.myjaxchamber.com/general.asp?id=572) The women's council in Jacksonville is very strong and the networking is phenomenal. Not in Jacksonville? Just google “[city name] chamber of commerce.”
American Marketing Association:
Develop relationships with people who get what marketing is all about. Business is all about relationship building. This a good source for building your natural market since most of these people are professional networkers and marketers. Listed below is the link to find a local chapter.(http://www.marketingpower.com/Community/_layouts/FindaChapter.aspx)
Search Engine Optimization:
Websites need to be submitted properly to all search engines in order for them to start showing up in people's searches. Use map tools to get your business to show up on google maps, mapquest, etc. Identify appropriate key words for your website. Having appropriate keywords is helpful to boosting your websites search rankings. The better your content and keywords, the better quality of the visitors that go to your site.
Not sure how to set up Search Engine Optimization? Be careful when considering hiring an SEO consultant. Many are novices and deliver poor results, causing you a loss on your investment. Consider doing some basic research to understand what SEO is and how it can help your business. Tangent specializes in creating effective web marketing strategies. We offer SEO packages as well as per hour work.
Here is an informational link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization
Craig's List for Recruitment:
You can also post listings on Craig’s List (www.craigslist.com) for business opportunities and it is free and is a huge resource for both job seekers and job posters.
Online social networking communities (facebook, myspace, linkedin, etc.) are growing rapidly and can be used effectively to promote your business and products/services, many times for free. Here is an article on how to get started and doing effectively.
Look at the statewide as well as local trade organizations. Many times you can sponsor meetings or be an associate member. This will give you some opportunities to get in front of your target audience. Listed below two examples of Florida trade associations. Almost all professions have some sort of association, and many of them have a statewide association with chapters in individual cities.
Not in Florida? Just search google or yahoo to find one in your state.
Printing Costs and Production:
Kinko’s and other print shops are extremely expensive. As an example, Kinko’s may charge around ¢.50 per color copy. Our company’s rates start at just ¢20.9 per color copy and ¢3.9 per black and white copy. We also deliver right to your home or office.
Marketing your Business’s Events:
Press Releases - Write up press releases. It is important to know how to write an effective release. Poorly written releases end up in the trash. It is well worth the investment to find someone with experience to write them. Tangent charges between $20.00 and $40.00 for a professional release and submission to local newspapers.
Newspapers - Do some research and see if your paper has a column about your area of expertise. Start submitting content to them. Write something original. Remember, if it's published in the paper you are an expert in your field. If you’re short on time, consider outsourcing the work to a marketing firm. They can conduct research and put together professional work. Tangent does this on a per hour basis.
Craig's List - Under the community section you can post information about your events. This is FREE exposure for you and it takes 10 minutes. You can also post multiple listings in different communities within your city.
Gift’s that Keep on Giving:
Referrals - How much do you pay for your leads? Are they even hot? A referral is a free lead with an excellent response rate. Never cold call again! Get your customers to talk about you (positively). Provide your customers with incentives for talking about your product. Many people spend lots of money on marketing materials like pens and coffee mugs. While these can have a nice touch they are much less effective than a customer who sings your praises. Create a culture with your employees and clients that makes referrals an expectation. Be proactive, ask for referrals. Referrals are the cheapest and often most effective way to drive your bottom line. Not sure how to ask? See the link below:
Email Newsletters - Using email marketing campaigns is a great way to stay in front of clients and increase your sales. It is extremely important however that you use email marketing effectively and appropriately. Sending too many emails will turn off customers. Sending too few won’t produce results either. There are many different opinions on what is appropriate, but we recommend sending around one per week (typically on Monday’s). How many emails do you get that you don’t even read? Would you read them if you felt there was actual value in the email? Of course you would! Make sure you understand your customers needs and wants and provide them with tons of value!
I had the chance to meet Ryan Allis, CEO of Icontact.com at a conference in November. His company is one of the best for email marketing software. Go to www.icontact.com to try a free trial. If you like it you can sign up for next to nothing.
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