You’re a small business for a reason. And if you are the only one working in your business then you’d likely call yourself a micro-business. But no matter how you identify your business, the fact remains that you likely cannot afford to market like a big business would.
And, you really can’t afford to sit around waiting for your marketing to work.
For starters, big businesses have deep, deep pockets and they can spend a great deal of that cash on building their brand over a period of time with numerous repetitions. (Just watch any sitcom on a weeknight and note how often you see the same ads over and over.)
So rather than spend your money — and your time — with advertising designed to raise brand awareness — which takes a long time and costs a lot of that aforementioned cash — any advertising you do will need to bring in profits — fast.
And while I always advise my clients to enter the advertising arena carefully, here are a few advertising ideas that will get you quicker results:
Share Ad Space
Local media, like a newspaper (if your area still has one) can be a great source for getting the word out about who you are and what you do. But newspaper advertising — any print advertising, really — can be very expensive, especially if you want to run an ad of a sufficient size to actually be noticed.
So if you find that your budget doesn’t quite add up to enough to afford running a newspaper ad all by yourself, you can split the cost by partnering with other folks who are in a complementary business with yours.
If you’re a life coach, for instance, you might partner with a local day spa, an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, a chiropractor, a gym, a health food store, or a candle shop. Each of these businesses chips in an equal amount to pay for a larger ad and each one gets the same amount of space.
You, as the instigator of this venture might even get a larger space since you’re the one doing all the work, and you might even get the entire ad paid for without you having to pay anything. That’s certainly fair if you do the legwork.
If you need to hire a graphics person to do the ad layout for you, of course, you’ll want to make sure you cover those costs — in addition to the ad cost itself — as well.
You can take this same idea and apply it to a lot of things. Is there an online directory where you could list your services as a group? An appropriate newsletter? How about a joint flyer posted on the bulletin board at the health store? Maybe a joint brochure that gets distributed all around town? The ideas are endless.
You’ll also be building a solid relationship with each of these partners, leaving room for more future partnership deals to take place.
Who could you partner with?
Postcard marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways you could market your business by using direct mail. It costs just pennies per postcard and can be tightly targeted to reach just your ideal clients.
If you run a local business, you can purchase a list of addresses and mail to just the people within a few miles of where your business is located or within selected zip codes. Seek out a good local mailing house and ask them what lists they have available.
Of course, if you’re marketing to an Internet audience, you’ll need to set up some mechanism on your site for capturing mailing addresses. The best way to do this is by offering an irresistible free gift that is something you have to physically mail.
Perhaps a CD, DVD, or printed booklet, or some advertising specialty item that has your contact information also printed right on it. (If you’d like to see some of the fun things that I mail out to people who are on my bumpy mail list, click here.)
Another great way to market using postcards is by mailing out a Postcard Newsletter. You include just two or three short articles and mail on a regular basis. It’s a great soft-sell approach to keep your name in front of your potential — and existing — clients. (I offer a great Done-4-You Postcard Newsletter Marketing Program at Awesome Newsletters. You can get your free Newsletter Marketing Kit here.)
Because you can target people so specifically using such a wide range of mailing options — while spending just pennies per person — postcard marketing can be an incredibly effective and affordable marketing tool.
Facebook Pay Per Click
Facebook now allows small businesses to very specifically target the people you want to reach. Unlike data you gather for postcard marketing or other kinds of marketing, Facebook data is submitted willingly by users. This is great because you know without a doubt those people are wanting to hear about your offers.
You can expect to pay about 50 cents per click these days, and you can target by age, location, gender, interests, marital status, income, and a lot more.
Let’s say you own a local consulting business, aimed at helping small business owners get a new business off the ground, how might you use Facebook Pay-Per-Click to attract new clients?
First, you might start with individuals earning $30,000 or more per year. You might target women between the ages of 25 and 50, who have indicated that their interests include business.
Then you’d write an attention-catching and informative headline and advertisement, along with a photo or other artwork that really grabs their attention.
When those clicks start coming through, just be sure that you’re ready to deliver on your promise, either to provide additional information, or to deliver whatever you’re selling.
To learn more about Facebook Pay-Per-Click (and other FB advertising opportunities) click here: Facbook Ads
Customer Loyalty Programs
Customer loyalty programs have traditionally been very successful for a lot of small businesses, especially for a business that sells an actual physical product. Remember how Subway used to have those little punch cards that gave you a free sub after you bought so many?
Or the pizza join that gives you a free pizza for every 10 pizzas you buy or something like that?
A loyalty program like that creates a desire to come back for more, especially as they get closer to getting their free pizza. If there are three pizzerias with comparable pizzas in the area, but only one has a loyalty program, customers are more likely to go to that one instead.
It’s certainly easy to see how a loyalty program works successfully for a restaurant or a store that sells the same things over and over, but what about your service business?
Say you’re that life coach I mentioned earlier, you may offer a loyalty program that says if a client sticks with you for 3 or 6 months that you’ll give them a gift certificate to a nice restaurant. Or work out a deal with a massage therapist that if a client sticks with you for a set period of time, that they get a free massage.
If you think about it, the ideas for loyalty programs are endless, and if you partner with someone else in a complementary business, then you’ll both benefit. That massage therapist may be willing to not charge you for the massage session you give to your client — or give you a deep discount — knowing that they likely will get a new long-term client out of the deal themselves.
These are just a few advertising ideas that can yield results quickly for your business. Test these ideas for a month or two and the results you get should be apparent pretty quickly.
Marty Marsh is a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach who helps his clients attract and keep their ideal clients with low-cost, high-impact marketing strategies. You can brainstorm with Marty or discuss any marketing or business issue you’d like during his monthly Open Office Hours. Learn more and schedule your free session here: Open Office Hours with Marty.