Last week we started on an adventure learning online marketing strategies that small business owners can implement for free. Hopefully, you were lucky enough to have read part one of our small business marketing idea series. We talked about ways that you, as a business owner, can use the internet to engage with potential customers and help them through the buyer’s journey.
We love online marketing. The majority of the world uses the internet to aide in their buying decisions, making digital marketing a high priority for small business owners. However, ‘real world’ marketing is still a necessity. That’s why part two of our small business marketing series is focusing on offline marketing strategies… that are still free.
Free Marketing Strategies (cont.)
1. Guerrilla Marketing
Guerrilla marketing is a unique marketing tactic that has no boundaries. It’s essentially thinking outside the box in order to attract attention to your shop or website. It’s an interesting concept that is hard to put into words. Here are a couple examples:
A lot of the dramatic guerrilla marketing campaigns, like those shown above, are expensive and probably not too feasible for small business owners. However, if you’re creative enough, you can come up with ideas that grab the attention of the public without spending a lot of money (if any). Here a couple that I really liked.
2. Referral Program
Word-of-mouth is still an important driving force. When happy customers send their friends and family to your company, you have earned a lot of respect from that source. Not only will that referring customer most likely be a recurring one, but you will establish a lot of new leads from them.
My mother referred a mechanic to me, Marcel, and I’ve been using him ever since. And whenever my friends need auto repair services, the first thing I do is offer up his phone number. He has probably had 5 or 6 new customers just from my family referring him.
A referral program encourages your customers to become an evangelist for your company, just like I am for Marcel. The best part is, a referral program doesn’t have to be complicated.
You can customize your referral program to suit your needs, your business type, and your abilities. It can be as simple as, “refer a friend, and when they utilize our services, you get 20% off your next service”.
You only need to give your existing customer something to provoke them to refer business to you. You don’t have to give away stuff on both ends. The new lead will come simply because someone they trust suggested it. However, you can offer something to both customers, such as, “when you refer someone, you get $20 off and they get $20 off after they make their first purchase.”
That extra benefit can often convert a lead from someone who was on the fence about using your services or making a purchase.
A partnership is when you team up with a company that offers services complimentary to yours and agree to refer business to each other one way or another.
For example, I went to the eye doctor last week for a standard contact lens exam. When I told her that I worked in an office and spent most of my time at a computer, she handed me a business card for a chiropractor. How simple is that?
Use your super smooth networking skills to team up with some local area businesses, swap out cards, and refer relevant business to each other.
4. Volunteer to Speak
Marketing your brand is all about getting out there and getting noticed. By volunteering to speak at industry related events, you’re establishing yourself as an authority in your field. Not only does this get your name remembered, but it also builds trust with existing and future customers.
Most likely, you and your business will be mentioned on the website for the event as well. Driving more traffic to your site and giving you a valuable link.
As I said before, marketing is all about getting your name out there and being noticed. Networking and meet-up groups allow you to create relationships with the leaders of your industry, as well as other business owners and professionals. This is great in so many ways.
- Being close to the leaders in your industry gives you access to knowledge that you may not have otherwise. If you want to be like them, get to know them. Most people are also willing to help their fellow business owners.
- One thing we often forget is that business owners are people too. Creating a relationship with other business owners usually means that they will come to you when they need your services in the future.
- Business owners also like to refer customers to local goods and services. Becoming friends with other owners makes it likely that when one of their customers asks about a service/product that you offer, they are going to send them your way.
One interesting, and often overlooked, marketing idea is bartering. Bartering is the act of trading your goods/services for another. For example, at the grooming salon mentioned earlier, we held our meetings and holiday parties at a local restaurant a few times a year. That restaurant owner happened to have 5 dogs that needed to be groomed every 6-8 weeks. Instead of paying outright for food and drinks at their establishment, we gave them a credit for the cost of grooming services.
They had an abundance of something that we needed (food and drinks), and we had an abundance of something that they needed (fancy looking dog haircuts), so we traded and saved each other money. Also, since you build that relationship, it goes back to the benefits of networking as well.
Most of all, remember to be friendly! Be your own brand ambassador. Talk to people. Talk about your business. Talk about your industry. You shouldn’t be shy or too humble to talk about your company to everyone.
Try to get into the mindset that everyone is an untapped resource. There are tons of moments throughout the day that you can naturally bring up your brand or industry.
Most small-talk conversations can lead to you mentioning your business. The ‘stop and chat’ moment with an old acquaintance is the perfect moment to bring up your company; either they’ll be interested or they’ll cut it short. It’s a win/win scenario for you.
Welp! That sums it up for our free small business marketing ideas. Hopefully, you are able to implement some of these online and offline strategies to the benefit of your brand.
Stick around, because next week, we’ll be talking about marketing strategies that cost a little green. Before you run away, remember what they say, “you’ve got to spend money, to make money”.