Even though you may not have a huge advertising budget at your disposal, your business can still make a big impact. Try some of these creative and relatively low-cost alternatives.
Create a challenge, offer a solution
Turn your product or service into a fun challenge that has the potential to massively increase your customer base.
For example, a local hardware store could offer free Saturday morning DIY workshops in-store on varying topics, and promote them on its Facebook page and in notices in the local community centre: “No good at DIY? We’ll teach you some basic skills for free that will save you heaps. Week 1– Fixing a leaky tap.”
Those who attended would be likely to stick around afterwards to buy the tools and equipment they need for the project covered.
Run a scavenger hunt
Have you seen groups of people, sometimes dressed to a theme, running excitedly around a city centre armed with their phones? Chances are they’re taking part in a scavenger hunt involving geocaching, using GPS to follow successive clues in a mobile app in the hope of securing a prize at the final location.
You can harness the appeal of this type of treasure hunt in your own locality, to tell a story about your business and engage both existing and new customers, but without knowing anything about geocaching. Create your story, pick your locations, decide on the clues, and promote the date, time and prizes to be won on your Facebook page. At the appropriate time, release the clues on Twitter, and ask participants to take photos of themselves at each location. The final location is your business, and participants with all the correct photos receive prizes or discounts.
Collaborate with other businesses
Get involved in cross-promotion with other businesses. Small businesses in your locality could join forces in the type of scavenger hunt described above, for example. Or you can feature complementary businesses on your website or social media pages. Hairdressers, beauticians and florists might cross-promote, while diverse building trade businesses – such as carpentry, plumbing and painting – have lots to gain from collaboration.
Get involved with your local community
Nothing beats positive word-of-mouth advertising and personal recommendations. You’re more likely to generate this kind of free marketing if you have a cordial relationship with your local community.
Here are some ideas to consider:
- Host a fundraiser for a local charity.
- Volunteer locally, and give your employees time off to do the same while wearing their work uniform, or just a cap or T-shirt bearing your logo.
- Sponsor a local sports team, and potentially put the name of your business on their team strip.
- Donate prizes of your products or services to school and community group raffles.
- Welcome work experience students, who will get to know your business and tell friends and family about it.
Be creative and save money on advertising
These are just a few of the less obvious ways you can market your small business. But you should also create a free Google My Business account, and make sure that you regularly publish useful content on social media pages your potential customers are likely to interact with.
Marketing doesn’t need to be expensive. It just needs to be a little bit creative.