Running a small business is a constant challenge. Money is tight, time is short and talent is scant. Launching a marketing campaign can seem daunting, but if you wield in wits what you lack in resources, it’s perfectly possible to compete with the big boys and win customers. Try these tips for smart marketing on a shoestring:
It’s never been more affordable for small businesses to automate their activities. A wealth of services - from mass text messaging to cloud contact centers - are readily available online. Handing your administrative tasks over to clever bits of software will save you having to employ personnel you can’t afford. Spreadsheets, call logs, reporting and analytics - all can be achieved at relatively low cost. If you’re still performing laborious admin duties manually, it’s time to update your processes and start spending your working hours more wisely.
Be the Customer
Working smarter, not harder, means putting yourself in the shoes of potential clients. It sounds obvious, but many brands neglect to empathize with prospects, ultimately costing them valuable business. Review your email and SMS marketing content. Step outside your intimate knowledge of the business and imagine you know nothing about what you offer. It’s not easy, but if you can pull it off, you’ll gain insight into how your company is perceived. Even better, survey your customers via social media or text message and hear it from the horses mouth. You may have to face some harsh realities about your business’s shortcomings, but that knowledge will pay dividends in future.
Selling isn’t Everything
It really isn’t. Bombarding your prospects with thinly-veiled variations on ‘Buy This’ is unattractive. In this age of social media and free content, you have to offer something of real value before asking for bona fide custom. Make your prospects feel as if they have a personal relationship with your brand. Be funny, be free, be informative and you won’t have to crow about how great you are all the time - let people find out for themselves by building their trust. If you build it, they really will come.
Know the Available Tools
A common problem amongst smaller businesses is the tendency to lag behind the current trends in marketing. Keep an eye on marketing blogs to stay abreast of the latest innovations - you might be surprised at how many new tools you can afford. Above all, don’t be overwhelmed. Times are good for small business, better than they have been in decades. Help is out there, it’s not beyond your budget, and it will grow your bottom line to the point where you have more money to spend on future advertising.