Starting a business is easy; making the business work, and growing it – that’s where the challenge is. One of the biggest challenges for new business owners is marketing
In today’s cut-throat environment, just having a good product or is not enough. If Dropbox didn’t have its referral program in place, millions around the world may never have heard about them. Contrary to popular belief, marketing isn’t just about advertising, which is good news for small business owners without deep pockets to dig into. Here are some marketing tips for small businesses.
- Make sure your business is worth talking about.
Before you spend your first-ever marketing dollar, make sure your business has some inherent value that people will want to talk about. The key to successful marketing campaigns is to make every marketing dollar stretch beyond its limit. If you have a product or offering that’s worth talking about, people will be more likely to share it – giving you much more bang for your marketing buck.
- Have a well-thought out referral program
This point works in tandem with point 1 in most situations. When you do have something worth sharing, create opportunities for people to easily share your product or service with people around them. The incentive can be monetary or even better, an organic valuable part of the product or service (free online storage in the case of Dropbox). This helps to maximize and amplify all your other marketing initiatives that you are spending money on.
- Take the lead in your community
No matter what industry you’re in, there are bound to be activities, events, get-togethers, and online groups in your community. Once your business proposition is established, hustle and get in touch with all the activity there is in your community. Once you have been to enough events, and have actively contributed to the success of these events; trust me, it is tough not for people to think of you when there is a customer who require your service offerings. Show the community that you care about them, and they’ll support you in return. As Brian Solis (Principal at Altimeter Group) says, “Empathy is the future of business”.
- Have a personal brand
Having a distinct positive personal brand can be even more valuable than developing a good corporate branding in your community. This is especially so for service companies, as people have a tendency to work with people they trust and know, regardless of whether or not the service offerings are truly superior to the competition. Let’s face it, no one likes doing business with a lifeless incorporation, we all like the particular fellow human being behind the brand.
- Share freely and often
The great thing about human interaction is that it is usually reciprocal. As a business owner with domain expertise, there are bound to be resources that you find useful and beneficial to your business partners and customers. Make use of these opportunities to share freely and establish yourself as a positive influencer at zero cost. Setting up email list, Facebook groups are just a few ways to get your valuable resources out to people around you.
Ultimately, marketing is really not about shoving your name or your business down people’s throat. It is about bridging the gap between the value that your business provide and your customers who do not know of your value. All you need to do is 1) nail down your business’ value, and 2) put into place a system that allows people to find out about that value, at the right time.