Small business is the lifeblood of almost every community. The vast majority of our local clients are solopreneurs (real estate agents, medical professionals, insurance agents) or small businesses with less than 10 employees . Once we have met with the client and have talked about how they have marketed their business up unto now there is a common theme:
I don’t have enough money to market my business…it cost too much to advertise.
- The way we have done it is by word of mouth and its works for us.
- We know we should be on the internet, but I don’t know all the ways of marketing on the internet.
- So you have a small business, in a small community, and you have a limited marketing budget. Believe it or not you have effective and affordable marketing options.
These are the six basics that can help you compete by;
Marketing Your Small Business in Your Small Community:
You can’t sell to everyone, Target Marketing
Everyone is not your customer. You have a specific service or items that you are trying to sell. Not everyone needs or wants what you have to offer. You cannot waste your time or marketing budget to try and get everyone to buy from you. Instead you have to figure out who will most likely need your services or goods and target your efforts towards them and people like them. You have to narrow the scope of your marketing efforts to get the biggest impact to maximize your marketing return on investment.
One size does not fit all; Develop a strategy
As a small business owner, you will at some point wear many different hats. Running your business day to day operation can be daunting because you have to make sure that everything runs smoothly. This may not leave time for a crucial part of marketing your business and that is to develop a strategy. Remember before you can put any clear marketing strategy into play you have to develop a strategy that will take into account your budget and will help you maximize your marketing dollars and time so you can focus on running your business.
You are not like everyone else; Build your brand
All it takes at minimum is a professional logo, a slogan, colors, a reputation…building your brand to create awareness and a following is very important. You are investing in your business image to be recognized in the community. Giving your business its own personality will set it apart from the local and regional competition.
They have to know you from the competition; Differentiate yourself
We always ask…who is your competition when we talk to a new client. We already know based on our pre-screening research of the client and their business, but many times the business owner does not know. In a small community, you may not have direct competition, but indirect competitors. Conducting a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is an excellent way to identify how to differentiate yourself from your competitors and will play a vital role in how you decide to market yourself to your target audience.
Get to know who will make you money; Engage with your customers
Inviting your customers and potential clients to interact with your business is one of the most important tools in your marketing toolbox. Engagement is not selling. It is developing a relationship and growing loyalty through teaching, being a resource, providing valuable or entertaining content, listening and responding, and sharing your business’s personality. Social media, surveys, videos, and contests are a few of the ways to open your business’ doors and welcome your customers to become part of your brand.
Don’t go it alone; Get involved in your community
Show that you are committed to the community you do business in. This can take shape in many ways: sponsoring an event, donating to a local non-profit, teaching classes in your area of expertise at local adult education or community education programs, or joining a non-profit board. Whatever you decide to do, ensure that it aligns with your mission, vision and values. There can be a lot of need in smaller communities and you may get asked to contribute often, but allocating a set portion of your budget and identifying what makes sense for you to be involved in can help you make the right decision for your organization.
If you utilize these key elements, you will be well on your way to marketing your small business like a pro.
Remember, diversity is the key to any good marketing strategy. If you aren’t sure what you should be doing to effectively market your business, enlisting the help of a marketing professional might make sense for you. Just like you rely on your accountant to assist you with the financial aspects of your business, a marketing professional can help set you on the right track for marketing your business. They’ll help you explore your options and identify which will be most effective for you. They can help you create a strategy, set a budget, and measure and track your efforts.