Today, more and more consumers are turning to small businesses for their everyday needs. A new focus on “shopping local” has helped keep customers returning to many salons, restaurants, and stores — but the pressure of competing with national brands remains daunting. For this reason, it’s important to find ways to hack in and reach your consumer base without breaking the bank. It may seem like everywhere you look there’s an expensive marketing plan looming, but we have plenty of budget-friendly marketing tips for your small business.
Establish a Budget
First things first, you need to figure out exactly how much you want to spend. Identify how much you would feel comfortable going over your budget and how much you would love to actually save so you have a little leeway in place. Beyond that, it’s important not to budge from your plan.
Remember that many experts suggest spending somewhere from 5 to 10 percent of your annual revenue on marketing. Depending on your objectives, you can always deviate from the norm to make sure you have room to spend exactly how much you want. The important thing is to set a budget ahead of time so you don’t get caught up in a flashy plan and end up spending more than you can afford.
Get Your Ducks in Order
If you’re going to spend time advertising your business, you need to make sure you have your social media platforms and local listings ready to go. For example, what use would it be for a salon to take out a local campaign if their address isn’t registered on Google?
Make sure to think about the customer’s reaction on both sides of your marketing. Try to — objectively — anticipate their first impression of your advertisement, then imagine their third. Part of what makes advertising work is creating a plan that ensures serious repetition. These days, consumers are so over-advertised to already, they may need to view your ad three to four times before they bite.
When they finally do, you better have a strong website and online presence for them to visit. Remember that marketing is just a means to get them in the door, and there is no use in building a large social media following without a strong business as your base.
Community Oriented Advertising
One of the best ways to build up your brand is through word of mouth. When customers tell their friends about your business, your brand will benefit from the intimacy of that setting. The more you can do to encourage those kinds of conversations, the more likely word will spread, and you’ll start to generate buzz about your venture.
It’s easy to spur these conversations through a great interaction with your regulars or after building a relationship with some of your most important customers — but how likely are you to do that every day? Another way to encourage this positive buzz is by creating a referral program.
If customers know that they can cash in on a promotion within your store by referring their friends, then they are more likely to do so. Moreover, if the first-time-customers they refer are able to redeem a discount on their first meal, session, or service, they’ll be twice as likely to visit your business — and may even refer new friends of their own.
Keeping Up With Your Customers
One way to keep track of who referred who and the number of promotions redeemed is to index your customers’ names with their phone numbers and email addresses. Many will quickly hand this info over to redeem a prize, but this data can be super important for your future marketing plans.
For example, once you secure your customers’ email addresses you can begin a weekly or monthly newsletter to be sent out to them. At the beginning, you can always use your own email platform to write and generate the email, but if the project becomes too big you can look into programs like which make email marketing so much easier.
Use your emails to touch base with your customers, and let them know of any changes they can look forward to. If the holidays are coming up you can post about any holiday closures in a snap and tease any cool promotions you have coming up. If you can, you should save your best promotions for these emails to incentivize your customers’ decision to open them. Especially because these are customers that have already visited your business and could possibly refer new customers, it makes sense to reward them.
If email marketing sounds intimidating, or you’re worried about whether you can really build out your own website on your own, don’t worry — you’re not alone. There are plenty of people who do this every day, and freelancers are often available at a low rate on websites like or . There is no need to skip these important hacks or steps just because you don’t feel prepared. You’re already running a business, don’t push yourself too hard to learn an entirely new trade.
One of the easiest ways to get new customers excited about your business is to go with a plan you know already works. Thousands of small businesses have turned to grocery store advertising over the years because it is a clear, simple way to get your name out there. Through programs like , you can print your business’s coupons on the backs of grocery store receipts — which means your supermarket advertisement is going home in the pocket of every single customer.
Other mediums like allow businesses to print a large ad on shopping carts. These mini billboards are then presented to the thousands of customers who visit the store each week and guarantee amazing repetition. Not only will customers see your supermarket advertisement each time they return to the store, but they will also view it every single time they pass another shopper’s cart. These results are the bread and butter of good advertising, so sometimes it can be helpful to work with a team that knows exactly what they’re doing.