Instead of relying solely on traditional marketing efforts like TV commercials and print ads, think about complementing your marketing campaigns with simple and less expensive promotional techniques.
One of the most effective marketing tools is a website. Web marketing is relatively inexpensive, and more and more customers turn to the Internet to find products and services, even in their hometowns. If you don't have a website, make that your first step.
Here are a few additional low-cost tips and simple strategies to get your marketing machine up and running:
- Include your website link on all company emails and other correspondence. Display your company or business web address prominently in your email signature. Do the same on stationery.
- Offer tips, advice and information on your website. Show customers how to repair, modify or improve your products. Provide product usage tips. The more customers enjoy your products, the more likely they are to buy.
- Use targeted pay-per-click advertising. If you provide local services, include your vicinity in your keywords. "Plumber" is much too broad; "plumbing repair Anywhere City, VT" is much more precise. You'll keep costs down, and the customers you want will find you.
- Put flyers, catalogs or brochures in every order. Make it easy for customers to buy from you. Don't assume a particular customer knows all the services you provide.
- Run contests or promotions to garner attention. Giving away an item during a contest is fine, but make sure the publicity value offsets the cost. Donating an item to a silent auction may not gain much public awareness; donating a product or service for a local radio station to offer in a contest will.
- Make contacts with local media. Newspaper and television reporters need reputable sources for articles; while you may not make "news," you can provide color to a story. For example, if you are a lawyer, you may be able to explain how new legislation will affect local viewers. Get in as many reporter's Rolodexes as possible.
- Create customer loyalty. Acquiring a new customer typically costs five to seven times more than keeping an existing customer. Set up frequent purchase discount programs or loyalty programs that reward customers who purchase on a regular basis. The price discount could be more than offset by the relatively lower cost of sale.
- Partner with complementary businesses. Offer bundled products or services in related fields. Be creative. For example, if you are a lawyer, consider setting up a package with a local accountant; people who wish to incorporate their business could also receive a basic accounting system setup. Think "one stop" shop.
- Create eye-catching guarantees. If competitors offer six-month guarantees, expand yours to a year. If you don't normally provide a guarantee, think of creative ways to safeguard products or purchases to help new customers overcome any hesitation of doing business with you.
- Pick up the phone. Call current customers. Ask how they're doing. Ask what you can do better. Ask if there are ways you can make their lives easier, (i.e., invoicing methods, delivery methods, customer service, etc.).
- Network with customers. Instead of joining trade or industry groups in your industry, go to where your customers are. If you are a lawyer, consider being active in your local bar association, but also be active in civic or business organizations where potential customers can see, meet and learn about you and your services.
You needn’t reinvent the wheel. When you're shopping or browsing, pay attention to what other businesses in other industries do. Think about what resonates with you; if a certain promotion makes you interested in making a purchase, how can you modify that promotion to support your own business?