Five Suggestions on How to Market Your Business on a Tight Budget
No retailer likes to spend money, but an effective marketing program can be an investment in your business. Most small retailers seek to find ways to effectively market their business to their local market on a small budget. Below are five suggestions on how to market your business without busting your budget.
1. Target Your Local Market
It pays to stay focused on “local marketing.” First, try to define the geographic area that you are trying to reach. Generally, the further you get from your store, the lower your return will be on investment. The US Post Office has a local marketing program named Every Door Direct Mail, which allows you to target a local geographic area with targeted direct mailing. To reach the local shoppers who are researching their local shopping alternatives online before they go out shopping, make sure to add your business to Google Places, Yelp, and Yahoo! Local. Additionally, once you are listed, monitor these sites to make sure any feedback and comments posted on the site are fair and accurate. However, even negative feedback can be helpful if it is used to improve your product or service offerings.
2. Use Social Media Such as Facebook
Social media has proven to be a very effective medium for communicating with customers and can be a low cost way to update them on your business activities. In particular, Facebook is very powerful if used properly. Ask your customers to ‘like’ your business’s Facebook page. Try running a ‘tell a friend’ promotion and create Facebook events for any sales. If you target a specific market segment or affinity group – add Facebook Groups that appeal to your customers to your Facebook page. Try to visit web pages visited by your customers and comment on any relevant articles. Make sure to include your store name and URL.
3. Embrace Mobile Marketing
If you have a website, make sure that you have a mobile-friendly version of your site. Try to get your in store customers to visit your website using their mobile device. One suggestion is to place a sign next to your register that offers store customers some sort of value for visiting your site – such as special deals, discounts, and promo codes. QR codes can also be used to direct customers to your mobile website. Mobile offerings should be consistent with your overall branding strategy. So, if you send out printed offerings or coupons once a week to drive foot traffic to your store – do the same for mobile.
4. Printed Flyers Can Still Be Effective
Given all the focus on online marketing, retailers are sending out fewer traditional printed flyers. This shrinking number of fliers can be an opportunity to help your business stand out. If you do not have money for a mass mailing program, try creating flyers and placing them in local stores, coffee shops, and libraries. See if other organizations and groups can put your information in their newsletter, or on their own website. No need to hire an expensive graphic designer to create your flyer. There are several free open source graphics design tools available – and even Microsoft Office includes a flyer template. You can also use online design capabilities from companies such as My Creative Shop or UPrinting.
5. Nothing Beats a Thank You
The best source of business is a referral from a satisfied customer. So, strong customer service is a very effective marketing tool. A simple handwritten note to customers with a short thank you message can be very powerful. This follow up is both inexpensive and very likely to be read by your customer. Custom stationary or letterhead can also reinforce your brand. Vistaprint offers a wide variety of business letterhead options to choose from. Referral programs that offer current customers a bonus or discount can also be very effective at providing customers an incentive to send business your way.