f you are looking to grow your business, then establishing a marketing plan is important. You have to consider the time, resources, and funds that you have to put towards a good marketing campaign. As a small business, you likely don't have a marketing team that is dedicated to this important task. Instead, you must come up with ways to build your business that doesn't require a whole marketing team, or cost a bundle.
It may seem impossible, but the good news is that there are many simple and cost effective ways to build your business today. Let's look at simple and inexpensive ways to market your business if you have a limited budget.
Have a Pitch
As a small business owner, you need to always be ready to talk about your business. This means that if you are at a friend's cookout, your son's soccer game, or at the coffee shop, you should be ready to quickly and succinctly promote your business. Have a well thought out pitch that describes who you are and what you do. This way when you are out and about, you'll be able to talk to people about your offerings when a relevant topic arises. Make sure you keep it short (30 seconds is plenty) and present yourself as an expert with confidence.
This may be the most cost effective way to get the word out about your business and what you offer. It's not only imperative to have social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but it's equally as important to be active on these accounts. Follow these simple rules when it comes to social media:
- Post and post often - post tips, pictures, funny stories, and interesting finds
- Invite your friends to like your pages and posts - a good way to get more traffic to these sites is to reach out to trusted colleagues and friends and invite them to follow you. When they like and follow your page, then their friends and colleagues will see that, and will do the same.
- Engage your followers and respond. As you get more people following your sites, then it's likely they will start to comment and like your posts. Be sure to always reply if they make a comment, or simply send them a 'thanks for the like' comment. It shows people that you are responsive and active which goes a long way when attempting to garner more business.
If you have gathered a list of emails from past customers, then make a plan to reach out to them frequently. If they see you on the top of their inbox on a regular basis, it's a great way to keep you on their mind. Then when it comes to making a decision about an activity that you offer, they will of course, think of you. When you email your customers, think of creative and unique content that they will appreciate. Ideas include:
- Monthly Newsletter
- Email with a special offer or promotions
- Communication about upcoming events
Write a Blog
Blogs are a great way to capture the attention of customers, both past and future. People are naturally curious and interested in learning, so having a blog on your website is a great idea. You don't have to be a skilled writer to write an effective piece either. There are so many tools out there that can help you with ideas and even grammar. Utilize the free services out there, and get your pen to paper. Blogs should have the following qualities:
- Captivating title and introduction to draw in a reader
- Educational content that offers a learning opportunity for the reader
- Content that is relevant to your business
Partner with other Local Businesses
If you offer a service that compliments another local business, then reach out to them to see if you can offer a special deal or offer to get more customers. Perhaps you have a water sport rental shop, and there is a cabin rental close by where you can offer your guests to stay there for a discount or vice versa. Or you provide hiking tours and you can partner with a local outfitter to provide gear. This is a win-win for both businesses and can be a great way to garner business.
Run a Contest or Promotional Giveaway
Giveaways and contests are proven ways to promote a business. The award should be something you offer such as a free kayak rental, or a BOGO discount off your most popular activity. There are a couple of options that are effective:
- Online contest: Come up with your own contest idea and promote it on your website and social media outlets. Make sure you describe the contest in detail as well as the rules and deadlines to participate. The contest should be something that is fairly easy to participate in and make sure you announce the winner.
- Local auction or giveaway: Often times local businesses or schools will have fundraisers that you can donate your services/products to, and this is an excellent way to promote yourself. Offer your promotional giveaway at the local school fundraiser, and parents and teachers can bid on it to earn money for their school. The win is that you will gain a new customer in the area who receives the giveaway.
These few tips should help you get started on your path to building more business easily. It takes work and creativity, but with some effort, you'll have new customers lining up to book with you. On that note, partnering with a booking system, like BookingCentral, will assist you with getting these customers in the door by allowing them to easily book online, pay for their activity, and get automatic email reminders.