If you run a small business chances are good that you don’t have a deep budget for marketing and publicity. Just about every small business I meet with wants to outsource marketing and PR, but just can't afford it. The truth is, if you can carve out a little time each day, you can do a pretty good job of promoting your business yourself.
Here are some ways to get started marketing your business today:
- Develop your customer database: Whether you own a retail shop or an online service, you can collect names and emails of customers very easily. If you aren’t doing this already, start now. Place a sign-up sheet or book on your counter by the register or add a digital email form on your website using one of the many affordable services available such as Constant Contact. Once you have a list of customers, be sure to send them updates and special offers, including a call to action.
- Communicate with your customers: Set up a blog (Wordpress, Blogger and Tumblr are all easy to use and free) and start posting information, commentary or photos for your customers to learn more about your business. You not only develop a relationship with current customers, you make it easier for new ones to find you through search engines. Be sure to share your blog posts across Facebook and any other social network you’re on such as Twitter and Google+. [Editor's note: You can also blog on Redondo Beach Patch! More information.]
- Testimonials and Reviews: Ask your best clients to endorse your business. Get this in the form of a letter or video and post to your website, blog and social networks. Be sure to monitor user-driven sites such as Yelp to capitalize on good reviews and, more importantly, respond to bad reviews. It also never hurts to reward your best customers! [Editor's note: Don't forget to claim your Patch Places listing. Customers can post reviews there, too.]
- Get to know the local media: You likely have a very good knowledge of the news outlets that cover local news. Read them daily and reply or comment on articles and posts if you have something relevant to offer. When you have something special happening at your business or a milestone to celebrate, send them an email with bullet points about it. Keep it simple, just the facts and your direct contact information.
- Make time for your marketing: Think of this as fitness for your business and carve out time each day to devote to marketing. If you can only do 30 minutes a day, that's fine, but stick to it. Try committing to at least one of these ideas each day and rotating them.
Your customers are out there looking for you. They are on search engines and Facebook, and they are asking friends and family for recommendations. By implementing the ideas above, you are making it easier for them to find out about your business. Use these ideas to get customers in the door and once they’re in you can win them over with your great products and amazing customer service!
If you have more ideas to add or have questions about how to implement any of these, please let me know in the comments or email me.