It costs to market a business…but it doesn’t have to cost money ALL of the time. In some cases, the cost can be limited to time. Those “cases” are particularly important for new businesses that have limited marketing funds and cater primarily to local consumers. Since the number of new businesses is on the rise, most of them serving the local community, I thought I’d take a minute to highlight a few free marketing tactics that new local businesses can use to begin rounding up customers. So, without further delay, here are my top three marketing tactics that I believe every local business should invest (time) in…
Be a Host
The benefit of being a host is that it allows you to take part in experiential marketing; it provides you with an opportunity to invite others to experience you, your office / store and your products / services. So, if it’s at all possible, I recommend that you give being a host a try.
There are two ways that you can be a host. The first way is to hold your own event. For example, you may decide to offer a workshop, seminar or demonstration designed to inform potential customers about your products / services while providing value to them. Alternatively, you may host a social event that is designed primarily to brand your business and familiarize customers with your business without the sales edge. However, if you decide to go this route, understand that planning and promoting an event can be hard work in itself…especially if you’re low on cash.
If you’re not up for hosting an event on your own, consider the second way to be a host: Partner with an organization. The key to hosting events in this way is finding organizations that target audiences you’d like to attract to your business. Once you find those organizations, you can offer your building / store / office space as a locale for one of their events. This is a great way to reap the benefits of being a host while minimizing your event-related responsibilities.
Toot Your Own Horn
Media exposure is one of the best forms of marketing a business can have…but there’s a catch: The media is a diva! Small businesses solicit the media, not the other way around—at least, not when it comes to positive news stories, that is. So, tooting your own horn is my cutesy way of saying that if you want to capitalize on the potential benefits of media exposure, you’ve got to write news releases. However, you cannot just write the news release about anything related to your business; it must be newsworthy.
What’s considered newsworthy?
Well, that depends on the local media outlets to which you plan to submit your news release. However, generally speaking, newsworthy means that the information you’re conveying via your news release is relevant to the media outlet’s audience; the information must benefit the local community in some way for the media to consider it newsworthy and your news release should demonstrate how the news you’re sharing is a benefit to the media outlet’s audience. FYI: If you’re hosting an event, ALWAYS send a news release prior to the event to improve your chances of news coverage! It doesn’t guarantee that the media will cover your event, but it definitely increases your chances.
If you didn’t know, Google is more than just a top search engine. The company also offers several tools to help business owners to promote themselves. Three free Google tools that can be particularly beneficial for you business owners who sell to local customers are Google Local Business Center, Google Sites and YouTube.
Google Local Business Center allows you to create a business listing and offer coupons. Customers can then print the coupons and bring them into your business or, if you enable the mobile option, they can simply show you the coupon when they visit! Meanwhile, Google Sites allows you to set up a free basic Web site to give your business a Web presence. (Note: Since Google Sites is template-based, the capabilities are limited but the features are sufficient to build a good informational Web site that gives an overview of your business.) As for YouTube, you can use this resource to create your own channel on which you can post commercials, seminar / workshop clips, tips of the day, demonstrations, answers to customer questions, etc. Any of those types of posts can help to draw attention to your business.
The common thread with each of these marketing tactics is that you, the business owner, are completely in control of the cost. You can certainly execute all of them in a professional manner without spending a dime. However, the greater benefit is that they are tactics that you can expand on once you do have a budget to invest in frills that will enhance whatever you’re doing. On a final note: Regardless of how much you spend (or don’t spend) on a marketing tactic, make sure that you’re putting your best face forward because whatever you do will reflect on you / your business. Okay, enough talk. It’s time for you to get back to work!
Do you have a marketing or self-publishing question you’d like me to answer? Email me and let me know. After all, I can’t answer a question that hasn’t been asked, can I? Right? So, send me an email at AskTanisha@TheLoftyEntrepreneur.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tanisha Coffey is a professional writer and marketing consultant based in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. She provides her services through the strategic marketing consulting, professional copywriting and independent author services firm Scribe, Etc.