It seems that not a day goes by without some new social media site popping up that your business has to be on in order to succeed. And the secret to better marketing for a small business always involves throwing more money at advertising media. This supposedly exposes you to a greater pool of customers who can use your services.
Getting lost in this parade of the new and the costly are strategies that are effective and cost little because they rely on the human element. Here are three examples:
- Word-of-mouth. Even in these days of mass emails, cellphone ads, and social media buzz, a word from a friend is the best recommendation anyone can get to try out your service. But don’t just rely on your customer’s beneficence to give you a good word. Explicitly ask them to tell their friends if their satisfied with your business. To encourage their interactions, offer them a discount coupon that they can hand to their friends as new customers.
- Networking. Nothing beats a smile, handshake, and good conversation to put your business in the public eye. Such face-to-face networking is effective because you appeal to the customer’s sense of sight, hearing, and touch, as well as his emotions, at the same time. Look for industry groups that you and your employees can join. Attend as many meetings as possible so people remember you if they need things done. Don’t forget to visit groups who may be outside your industry but whose member may hire you. For example, if you’re a plumbing contractor, make a small presentation to a historical society about simple plumbing repairs that anyone can do. When these owners of Victorian homes need major plumbing work, they’ll remember you as an authority on the subject and give you a call.
- Sponsorship. Fronting some or all of the funds for a charity fund-raiser or amateur sports team is a great way to advertise your business and do good at the same time. You will need a banner with your company name, address, phone number, online contacts, and list of services. You can then display this at the venue with the event organizer’s permission. In addition to or instead of this direct advertising, consider giving away useful small items, such as pens or calendars, to all attendees of the event. Whenever the recipient use the item, he’ll think of your business.
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