All businesses need effective marketing strategies to prosper but small local companies have fewer options available. As you likely do not have the mammoth budget of a Virgin Ltd, Coca Cola, Amazon, or Starbucks, you’re going to have to be innovative to keep your head above water. This article will give you a creative list of real world and online marketing strategies that you can use to promote your local business without breaking the bank. Enjoy.
Create a Facebook shop
If you are like most people, you spend half of your waking life on Facebook so we don’t need to convince you of how effective it is for promotion. But; did you know that you can use it to sell products? Companies like Shopify, CityVU and others will let you create dedicated Facebook stores that you can use to promote and sell to your audience without them needing to click away to an external site. You can search by age, gender, location, and interests and all for as little as $29 per month.
Create an amazing elevator pitch
Does your business have an elevator pitch? If not, it needs one immediately. As you’re a small company most people you speak to will have no idea who you are and you’ll spend a lot of time answering the question “So what exactly do you do?” If you don’t have a short, succinct and ultimately compelling answer to this question then you’ll lose out on both interest and sales.
Get on listed on Google Places
This is about as essential as essential can get so don’t shoot yourself in the foot by overlooking it. When people search for local services they tend to just look at Google’s map of results and choose the option that’s the closest to wherever they happen to be. Now let’s just say you have a dry cleaning business that isn’t listed on Google places, when people search “Dry Cleaner in Harlem” you won’t appear on that map and you essentially will not exist to potential customers. Get listed here.
Get involved with local events
Assuming you’re in a medium to large sized city then you’ll have local events happening in your niche quite regularly so look for opportunities to get involved with them. If your Health Foods store was the sponsor of a local yoga or fitness event then they would have more local brand awareness as a result. Simple.
Consider paid advertising with Google Adwords
Google Adwords operates in pretty much the same way as SEO, you pick keywords to target and then your business appears when people search for those words on Google. But there are some differences. Firstly; Adwords delivers results much faster than SEO. It can take months to benefit from a good SEO campaign while Adwords will kick in immediately. Secondly, Adwords isn’t free. While you might pay an SEO specialist to help you rank on Google. As for Adwords, you’re paying Google about $1-$2 per click so if you spent $50 you’d get 25-50 visitors to your site. Your goal then would be to make sure you made enough money from those visitors to make it worthwhile.
Create a loyalty program
A good loyalty program (for instance a coffee shop that offers free lattes on every 4th visit) will endear you to your customers and turn them into your own personal army of evangelists. You might balk at the idea of handing out free stuff but you really shouldn’t because you’ll gain much more than you’ll lose. By giving away that 4th free latte you’re persuading your customers to constantly chase it and hence keep coming back to you. This means that they’ll visit your shop over the competition and as alluded to before, will like your company more and tell their friends about you too.
Brand yourself incredibly well
A small business like yours needs to be well branded so make sure that yours is. Your target audience, preferred social media channels and visual branding all need to be geared towards the ultimate aims of your company and a great way to start would be with your visual branding, namely your logo. The first thing people will see when they encounter your brand is its logo and having the wrong one can be hugely detrimental. You can get logos designed online at very affordable rates now through companies like Logojoy so get in touch with them and see what they can do for you.
Develop a customer referral program
A referral program is a lot like a loyalty program; you’re effectively rewarding customers for their business and persuading them to become ambassadors for your brand. The difference is that instead of rewarding them at pre-defined intervals, you’re doing it every time they refer a friend to you. Not all of your new customers will become loyal fans of your brand but some will so incentivising your existing fans to help you find new ones is an excellent growth strategy.
Have a controversial opinion on a hot topic
This will definitely get attention but depending on the topic in question and what you choose to say it could backfire; so don’t take this as carte blanche to be offensive or libellous. But that said; a unique, original and unapologetic take on a public dispute can make your brand seem like a refreshing ray of honesty in an overly PC world. A debate is currently raging about our repressive culture and like them or not, the popularity of characters like Jordan Peterson, Milo Yiannopolous and even President Trump reflect the fact that lots of people are craving freedoms they think they’ve been denied.
Cross-promote with another local business
A great way to grow your brand is to co-promote with businesses that are similar or complimentary. You might do a series of guest posts about gardening equipment on the local DIY store’s website or have them do the same on yours. Or you could create offers that give your customers discounts on certain items for specific periods of time at your respective websites. There’s any number of creative enterprises you could come up with but the thing that underpins them is the fact that when two similar brands come together each gets exposed to the fans of the other and they both win as a result.