The challenge is even more acute for businesses that are just getting started as entrepreneurs figure out how to pay for buildings, buy equipment, meet payroll and handle day-to-day expenses. Luckily, there are ways that you can get the word out without busting your budget. Read on and we will cover those salient points here.
Take a two-prong approach when reaching out to customers online. The first approach is through your website, by keeping those pages up-to-date and relevant. If you have a blog attached with this site, new information should be added regularly. You need to position your website to perform well in the search engines by using the keywords and phrases that help you get discovered.
The other approach to take is through your social media sharing efforts, especially Google+, Facebook and Twitter. Well-timed and placed information about your company can raise awareness, connecting you with customers, suppliers and competitors alike. Concentrate on the most popular sites only as spreading your resources too thing will hurt your bottom line.
Most businesses rely much on local customers. This consumer base may dominate your customer demographic, unless of course you have an online store. We will assume that your business reaches your local community primarily for this example.
One way to reach out is through a direct marketing campaign. You can do this through email lists, your existing phone number list, by direct mail or a combination of the three. One of the most cost effective ways may be to print up and send post cards to customers in your area. Include a coupon that brings people to your location. You will be able to gauge the effectiveness of that campaign through the number of redeemed cards.
Your suppliers and other business contacts are a likely place for new business. You not only buy products from them, but you may have a finished product that these people want.
Spread the word through your business association meetings, corporate gatherings and one-one-one meetings. You can also update your invoices and billing information to better reflect what you do, even including a coupon for your business customers to redeem. You may find new business in unexpected ways too such as collaborating on a projects with a business ally, not a direct competitor.
Your current customers can also bring in new business. Perhaps much more business than new customers. Consider this: your current customers know you and are familiar with the way that you do business. What you might need to demonstrate is improved recognition, rewarding their loyalty with special perks.
Supermarkets, coffee shops, restaurants and so many other retailers reward their customers with special offers, including exclusive deals that others may not know about or get. For instance, if you run a bakery, you can provide a free pastry with every $10 spent. Or, if you operate a barbershop, you can make the sixth haircut free in a calendar year. Use a rewards card to track that information or simply automate it at the checkout counter. Surprise your customers too by meeting a specific need.
A multi-prong approach can help you bring in new customers. Notice that we left out newspaper and other print ads as well as online pay-per-click ads. Both campaigns are expensive with not enough return on the dollar to justify the expense. When your company does grow you can expand your advertising options, but for now you are all about saving your company money and growing your business without going broke.
See Also — Small Business Financing: Where to Find It