In marketing, size truly doesn’t matter. Higher marketing budgets don’t always translate into an increase in customers. Small businesses can avoid big and expensive campaigns, and instead use a consistent approach that targets your most-likely customers through inexpensive mediums. Let’s look at what it takes: Make a strategic plan Plan your marketing efforts; this way you will be able to track the effectiveness of your campaign. One way to measure effectiveness is to set time-bound goals and then link them with actual monetary benefits. Base your marketing plan on your target audience and their needs. Think of how you can reach them best. Throw in a freebie Who wouldn’t want something free?!Incentives encourage people to purchase and drive up the numbers. How about offering an inexpensive item as a complimentary gift to the first 50 buyers of your new product? Or a discount to every 10th customer who walks into the store? Contests with prizes are also an easy way to woo potential customers. Invite people to participate in a quiz; ask people to guess the price of a product; have them write a slogan. Contests are an inexpensive but effective tool to grab publicity. What’s more, contest forms can be used to encourage potential customers to sign up for promotions and newsletters. Treat loyal customers royally Your current customers are already convinced about your products, thus saving you marketing resources. Try increasing the value you offer to such clients, already in your customer management database. Statistics say acquiring a new client is nine times more expensive than retaining your old one! Use a customer loyalty programme that offers special discounts or coupons to ensure customers remain engaged and interested. Loyalty programmes can be used to promote special offers, new product lines or strategic incentives that encourage spending: such as buy five and take the sixth free or freebies for bills over a certain amount. Leverage your knowledge Do you have a knack for predicting industry trends? Has your experience given you a technical expertise that most people don’t have? Leverage this knowledge to develop a reputation as an expert. Connect with online or traditional media and make your specialities known. This way, they will know when to approach you for a relevant quote or tap an upcoming industry trend. You can also speak at local industry events or networking groups to share tips that are relevant to the audience. Whether you’re being quoted in the media, or are addressing a gathering, you are serving as the extension of your business. The plaudits you receive are received by your business too. Try and capitalise on this, by handing out business cards or promotional material at such events. Hone your networking skills One of the easiest and least expensive ways of promoting your business is word of mouth publicity. If you can’t wait for it to happen naturally, you can proactively list potential customers in your customer management database. Make it a point to remain connected to industry happenings and your peers. Trade fairs, association meetings, and industry discussions offer great opportunities to network and gain access to new leads. Remember to keep your business card handy and be confident in promoting your business. Similarly, incentive based referrals are also a good way to promote business. Many businesses offer special discounts or gifts to customers who make successful referrals. Strength in numbers If a limited budget is preventing you from accessing new markets, try partnering with another firm to leverage combined spending power to tap new opportunities. For such alliances to work, the partner organisation should be a logical match for your business. For example, if you sell gardening equipment, you can partner with a company that specialises in outdoor furniture and create a combined advertising campaign or discount scheme.
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