If you’re a small-business owner, you know that local customers are the foundation of your success. By winning over the hearts (and wallets) of your area’s customer base, you can guarantee success in the foreseeable future. To do so, however, you must drive traffic to your business.
As a small-business owner, you also know that your marketing and advertising budget is often low. Think that running a successful marketing campaign requires a fortune? Think again. It’s entirely possible to drive more local business on a shoestring budget.
Here are 10 small-business marketing ideas.
1. Frequently Publish Great Content
Publishing great content on your website and your blog is a simple, free way to drive traffic and improve your rankings on the search engines. And if you have the capacity and time to do it yourself, all the better. You don’t have to be a novelist to write blog posts. From “top 10” lists to industry best practices, we can guarantee you have some knowledge to share with the world. Check out our blog for inspiration!
2. Get Social
Getting social these days means leveraging the many social networking platforms available. This is one of the quickest, most affordable small-business marketing tactics to build loyalty with existing customers and attract new ones. In fact, most platforms are free.
However, social media also requires upkeep. Businesses must respond to user comments, post relevant content, and regularly engage with users. Before going all in—and creating profiles on numerous platforms—it’s important to consider your capacity.
3. Create a Customer Referral Program
For local businesses, word of mouth can make or break your business. When integrated into your marketing efforts, referral programs can generate buzz in your community, In fact, 92 percent of consumers say they trust referrals from friends and family members more than anything else when it comes to making buying decisions. Referral programs require great incentives.
Most people who participate in customer referral programs expect a monetary reward, which can be presented as discounted services, gift cards, or even promotional items like shirts and stickers. Estimate the long-term value of a customer and match your rewards to that.
4. Host an Online Contest
Creating contests and generating buzz can create new customers and inspire brand loyalty. While online contests may require an investment up front—in the form of a prize—it’s a marketing strategy that could potentially produce a massive return.
Need help? Rafflecopter makes it easy for companies of all sizes to launch and manage giveaways.
5. Engage with the Local Media
From radio to television to bloggers and online publications, the local media is often overlooked by small businesses—when, in fact, it’s a vehicle to drive local customers. For example, restaurants can build camaraderie with food bloggers or Instagram accounts to get reviews and features on their profiles. Or auto shops can engage with local radio DJs to get a shout-out on the air.
The best part about advertising with local media? You can guarantee that your ads are reaching the right audience.
6. Create Local Partnerships
Teaming up with local businesses that are related to your industry—but not direct competitors—can help increase awareness and reach a niche audience. Partnerships can be done offline through charity events, special dinners, or other special events. They can also be done online through contests or even blog posts. Regardless, partnering with local businesses portrays your brand as positive.
7. Email Marketing
Like social media marketing, email marketing is one of the most effective, affordable small-business marketing ideas to attract new customers and engage existing ones. By offering guests content or discounts in exchange for their contact information via signing up for your newsletter, email marketing enables small-business owners to interact with a potentially large group of users at once. While there are free tools to get you started—such as MailChimp—like social media, email marketing does require upkeep.
8. Host Events
Whether you’re a new restaurant on the cusp of opening or an established auto shop looking to engage with your community, hosting events is a proven way to get people in your doors. From menu tastings and happy hours to car care clinics and free car washes, community events can build excitement and traffic. Borrowing from a technique above, consider partnering with other brands or individuals to create a similar win-win situation for you and your partners. Like-minded organizations offer your customers a unique experience and leverage the audience of like-minded people to increase traffic.
9. Get Involved in Your Community
Participating in fundraising and charity events is free publicity for your business. Not only does it show that you care, but it also positions your brand front and center in your community. Major holidays are a great time to make the most of fundraising events. By donating a portion of your sales to charity, you make your customers feel good about spending. This can help improve both foot traffic and sales.
That’s something everyone can feel good about.
Looking to make an immediate impact on how your consumers purchase your products or services? Coupon advertising not only compels consumers to act—it also impacts how much money they spend. Almost 90 percent of consumers said that promotions affect the amount they spend and the items they purchase.
Coupons can also help keep consumers away from your competition—which is crucial for small businesses. Seventy-eight percent of consumers said that coupons influenced a purchase from a brand they wouldn’t typically consider, and 80 percent of shoppers would switch stores or brands due to a compelling promotion.
Do you have any small-business marketing ideas to add? Leave a comment and let us know!