There’s never been a better time to be a small business owner. Thanks to the internet, it’s possible to reach new customers anywhere in the world.
But, figuring out where to get started is always tough. Most likely, you’ll be launching your program with a modest and minimal marketing budget—you don’t have the same luxury as a large company to run tests for the sake of experimentation. When you invest in a marketing strategy, you need to make sure that your campaigns are cost-effective and guarantee results.
You also need to invest in marketing programs that stand out from the oversaturation of messages that your audience is seeing on a day-to-day basis. According to the 2019 Edelman Brand Trust Survey, a majority of consumers report that they prefer to make purchases from trusted, familiar brands.
That means, when finding new growth opportunities for your business, your marketing needs to be creative. These techniques can help your small business find its next best customers:
Create a social media group
Social media sites like Facebook, and software like Mighty Networks and Slack, makes it possible for businesses to create custom online communities. Let’s say that you run a small arts and crafts store and you’re thinking of hosting knitting meetups or classes, for instance.
You can ask your customers to sign up for a community where you share your events. Social media doesn’t need to be restricted to online experiences, only. If you run a local business, figure out creative experiences to get people into your store.
Everyday life moves at a fast pace. As a result, it can be tough to get people in one place for an in-person event. To grab those fast movers, consider hosting a webinar—an online seminar or presentation. If you Google “webinar platform,” you’ll find a range of options available, ranging in cost from free to hundreds of dollars per month.
You can host live webinars—sessions in which a host is present—or pre-recorded ones. You can tailor these webinars to be educational, similar to a presentation that you might give in real life. You could even consider hosting an interactive workshops.
Another option is to create several pre-recorded webinars that you can host at any time of the day. This approach is especially valuable if your company reaches customers in different timezones.
Your webinars are valuable sources of content that you can use for other marketing programs. For instance, you can save them and make them accessible on your website.
Build a content marketing program
Instead of spending money on an advertising program, consider running a company blog or hosting a resource center where you can publish stories. These can be resources that you share with an email list, or case studies to share with new people who are learning about your business.
With content marketing, your goal is to increase the number of people you reach online, with information about your business. You can share news about your company, create videos or ask your teammates to write blog posts that showcase their knowledge.
While larger companies invest millions of dollars in content marketing programs, your company can execute on a simple strategy. For instance, you could film videos on your smartphone. When you need images for your blog posts, you can use your own photography.
Run a direct mail campaign
Yes, your business’ target audience likely receives an overabundance of advertisements in the mail. That’s why if you run a direct mail campaign, you’ll want to take a thoughtful, tailored and personalized approach.
If you run a restaurant, offer more than a flyer with a coupon. Instead, you may consider sending potential patrons a high quality postcard with a freebie—such as a dessert or an appetizer.
You can use direct mail to bring new people to your website, too. If you’re a personal trainer or consultant, you can offer new customers a complimentary session. If you are a contractor, consider including an offer for free design or estimates.
Create an email newsletter
Keep in mind that your target audience’s attention spans are likely spread thin. Between the many responsibilities that an average person manages, it can be tough to bring something new to his or her attention.
One way to stay top of mind is to publish a regular email newsletter. Share content or updates about your business.
To do this, you’ll need to build an email list.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to give careful thought to this process. First of all, you’ll need to be compliant with the CAN-SPAM act in the United States. You’ll also want to see if the European GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), applies to your specific subscribers.
Don’t stop there
Think of ways to integrate your digital marketing strategies with a physical presence. Never leave home without a business card, or miss an opportunity to canvas your area for a place to find new customers in the real world.
You’ll build your new customer base faster if you recognize that reaching more people means being thoughtful about the messages that you put out.
Once you build that base of loyal customers, you’ll see a boost in word-of-mouth. Don’t be afraid to say “tell your friends” to a satisfied customer. The digital marketing landscape, especially, is vast—whether you run a local business or company online, you have a range of options to build your growth strategy.
Focus on executing on a strategy with longevity and integrity in mind.