Marketing is one of the most effective ways to connect with potential customers. Even if you don’t have a huge budget, there are lots of things you can do to get your name out there and set yourself apart from the competition.
The first step is to set a realistic budget and goals for who you want to reach. Then consider these 10 ideas to market your business and give you a competitive edge.
Use social media.
At the very least, your business should have a Facebook page and possibly an Instagram account. LinkedIn and Twitter may also make sense, but if you spread yourself too thin, you might not end up using them all to your advantage.
Be creative, but only post things that are actually related to your business. If you’re a chef, post photos of your food, or tips and tricks anyone can use in the kitchen. If you’re a plumber, post inspirational photos of dream bathrooms or before and after pictures of jobs. If you’re not sure what to post, look at what similar businesses are doing for inspiration.
Remember that social media is about engagement, so respond to comments or questions,and take a few moments every day to like, comment on, or share what other people are posting.
You should also use hashtags and tag the companies whose products you’re using. If a big brand responds to you, it’s likely to bring a lot more eyes to your page.
Finally, be consistent and keep all posts in the voice of your brand.
Hand out business cards.
It may sound obvious, but one of the best things you can do when you’re talking to someone about your business is hand them a business card so they know how to reach you.
If you bump into an old friend at the grocery store whose brother just happens to be looking for [whatever it is you do], give her your business card. Providing a professional looking card with your brand and contact information makes you seem legitimate and and increases you chances of getting a call from that brother the next day.
The more creative your card, is the more it’s likely to stick around. You don’t have to go wild, but take time to think about the card stock, logo, color, typography — and be sure to triple check for spelling and grammar.
Include all of the pertinent information, including your website, phone number, and email address, and consider including your social media handles as well.
Partner with complementary businesses.
Consider finding a small business that aligns with yours and partnering up to give each other referrals and exposure. If you’re a plumber, reach out to local contractors. If you’re a wedding photographer, reach out to wedding coordinators. If you’re a catering service, partner with a party rental equipment service.
It gives you a lot of credibility when someone else recommends your services, and it’s a great way to generate leads.
TV, radio, and newspaper ads can be really expensive. Online advertising is not only more affordable, it’s also more targeted, which means you can make sure that your message is getting in front of the right people.
Try advertising on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram that make sense for your business. Start slow and try out a few things to see what works best.
And remember, your Thumbtack profile acts as an online ad for your business and turns up in search results like this one – so be sure to spend time making your profile great and keeping it up to date.
Create a website.
Thirty years ago, you would have listed your small business in the Yellow Pages. Well, the internet is the modern day Yellow Pages. It’s where people go to find and research services and products. If you don’t have a website, you won’t come up when they do a local search.
Not only is it a great place for you to explain who you are, what you do, your pricing, etc., a website can also help you collect email addresses, which is imperative if you’re considering sending out newsletters or emails with special offers.
In addition, a website gives you legitimacy and, at a minimum, acts as an online business card. Once you’ve created one, be sure to add it to your Thumbtack profile as well.
Create useful content.
Having a blog (and updating it regularly!) could help your business appear higher in Google results when customers search for your service. A blog also gives you the opportunity to establish your expertise, share your knowledge in writing or video, and grow your network. You can also link to it from your social channels every time you post so your followers are getting valuable content.
Yes, a blog takes time and effort, but if you create content that is truly useful and keep at it, you will eventually reap the rewards.
Give a seminar or workshop.
You’re in business because you have a skill that most other people don’t have. Whether you’re a makeup artist, interior designer, photographer, or resume writer, you know things you can teach other people.
A workshop is a great way to get people interested in what you do, show them that you’re an expert, and generate leads. If you’re a resume writer, put up flyers at the local college offering a seminar about tips and tricks for creating a resume that will grab a potential employer’s attention.
If you don’t have a space to do this, check your public library, local high school or community college, and community centers to see if there’s a room you can rent out — then get the word out using flyers, emails, and social media.
List your business free online directories.
It’s easy to list your business in an online directory, and the more places you list it, the more customers will see you.. You’re on Thumbtack but you should also add your business to Google, Bing and Yahoo. (A quick Google search of other professionals in your area will reveal where you should list so that your business will be found.) While you’re at it, make sure your Thumbtack profile is up to date and includes recent photos. Here are more tips for creating a great profile on Thumbtack.
Get involved in the community.
Find a way to give back while also getting your name out there. Sponsor a local team or charity event, provide your services to a non-profit, volunteer, or give a talk at a local school. Not only will you feel good about what you’re doing, you’ll build brand awareness and reach a new pool of potential customers.
Ask for referrals.
The best way to get a referral is to ask for one. Ask happy customers, ask friends, ask colleagues, ask family. People usually enjoy giving a referral, but they won’t think about doing it unless you ask.