Making sure potential customers are aware of your business is key to its growth. But marketing can sometimes be expensive. Here are 7 affordable alternatives to mainstream advertising.
The modern business market has a number of outlets for advertising and marketing your company. Yet many of these still have costs attached to them that are unaffordable for small firms.
This can create a vicious circle in which large firms get more business as they can afford to advertise, meaning they can afford to advertise more and so on. It’s no coincidence that Coca Cola, one of the world’s biggest companies, is also one of the biggest spenders on advertising.
But there are ways to get your business known without having to break the bank.
1. Social media
While you can still promote your business online for free through Facebook pages, LinkedIn Showcases and your Twitter feed, the most effective way of converting social media followers into customers is through paid advertising.
But the beauty of many social media advertising systems is that you can set a budget that’s suitable for your company, instead of having prices forced on you like in print advertising.
You can also focus your adverts on the people you want to target by age, location and interests, which should provide better value for money than a general newspaper advert.
Social media is also a great place for networking, with groups set up for all sorts. Or you could start your own group. For example, if you run an accounting firm, you could set up a regional accountants Facebook group.
Sometimes you’ve just got to get out there and start shaking some hands. Look online for local networking events for small businesses and start attending them on a regular basis.
You’d be surprised how much more open people are to talking business face-to-face than over emails or phone.
Tradeshows, conferences and exhibitions are also good places to network. While having a stall is expensive, visiting as a guest is a more affordable option. Go armed with plenty of business cards and confidence in your company.
It used to be that creating a corporate video was an expensive proposition. But with the rise of high-quality cameras on smart phones and the drop in price of DSLRs, you can create your own marketing video for a minimum cost.
YouTube is the best social media platform for introducing products and converting interest into sales, says AOL Platforms, so it’s time your company embraced it.
Try to avoid straight adverts – instead offer useful guides, funny behind the scenes looks at your company or interviews with key people in your organisation.
If you’re doing well and want people to know it, one of the best ways is through awards. Some companies avoid them as they don’t think they’ll win. But if you don’t enter you won’t know. Winning, or even being nominated, for an award is great publicity.
Award entries are much like job applications. The more you enter, the better you get at it.
Every time you submit an application you’ll get a better idea of what judges are looking for. And even if you don’t win, you could be invited to the awards dinner, which in itself is a great networking opportunity.
5. Contra deals
There will be a number of companies like yours that can’t afford to advertise. Find a company that is complementary to yours – someone in the same industry, but not a direct competitor. Then see if you can arrange a contra deal.
This could be a mention in your social media feed, CEOs writing blog pieces for each other’s websites or including their details on any emails or other marketing materials. It’s a great way to reach additional customers in your industry.
6. Local media
While local papers might be going the way of VHS, they still hold a sway over those who read them. Instead of buying an advert, though, try getting a story in there.
The best way to do this is to have a good story to tell. A press release about a new product will be ignored; but if you’re sponsoring a charity or have won an award they might be interested.
And don’t just email the release. Following it up with a quick phone call. And if it doesn’t get featured, try again next month with another story.
7. Get your customers talking
If you’ve got happy customers, let the world know. Encourage people to review you online and ask if you can use their reviews on your marketing material. You could even go as far as to give people discounts if they recommend your company to a friend.
People who discover a company through a personal recommendation are much more likely to use it than if they’ve seen an advert.
A survey from Reevoo found more than half of respondents were influenced by friends’ recommendations. Customer reviews were next most important (48%) followed by advertising at just 24%.
Posted by Julie Tucker