If you’ve been in business before, you understand the challenges of getting customers through the door. In theory, it sounds easy. But in practice, it’s tough.
Luck has nothing to do with your success in marketing a new business or making sales. Incorporating creative ideas into your marketing strategies is the way forward.
The internet has broadened the options for new businesses hoping to reach more customers. In addition, it’s made it easier and more affordable. A simple Google search will reveal numerous case studies of successful start-ups. Many prospered by driving thousands of sales on a shoestring budget. However, the success stories don’t reveal what goes on behind the scenes – how innovators used their creativity to attract customers.
Whether you run a brick-and-mortar operation or an online business, the following ideas can help you pull in customers. The plan is to entice potential customers to inquire about your new business.
1Invent a viral hashtag
Brands today are likely to make more sales via social media than any other channel. Instagram and Facebook are two platforms customers use to discover new brands and products to follow. Those who find a way to go viral have the best chance to be discovered.
A business that invents a trendy hashtag can become the social-media darling everyone wants to patronise. Here are just two types of hashtags:
- Controversial. If you think it could work for your brand and customer base, follow in the footsteps of Daniela Bregoli. She now has more than 8 million Instagram followers who key in to her #cashmeoutside catchphrase (still a popular meme).
- Sensual. Nusret Gökçe is known for treating his meat affectionately. It earned him the nickname “Salt Bae.” His #saltbae Instagram videos attracted global attention when they went viral and earned him 5.9 million followers.
2Guest-post for free
You can extend your reach by seeking out and contacting top online publications in your industry. Offer to guest-post in exchange for having your name and business featured in their bio. This will expose your content to a larger audience and direct more attention to your website or preferred platforms.
3Cold-call potential leads
Reaching out directly to new customers might sound scary at first, but cold-calling is a proven way to make sales to customers who might not even know they needed your products or services.
Just identify your target buyers and hit them up. Practice your sales pitch until you perfect it.
4Meet new customers at events
Because people are curious about new businesses and what these companies have to offer, attending events can be incredibly beneficial. Moreover, events often offer the opportunity to meet journalists and secure some much-needed press.
Find out how to set up your own booth or stand. Display your products, hand out business cards, and distribute flyers advertising your services or products. This is your chance to chat with the crowd, network and exchange contact details with potential customers.
5Start a blog about your business
Business blogging is similar to regular blogging. The difference is you’re sharing details of your company’s products or services with your readers.
Your business blog is an ideal platform to answer customers’ questions and give discounts, freebies and special offers as incentives and rewards. Sharing high-quality, compelling content targeted to your ideal customers will drive traffic to your website.
6Use Facebook ads to reach customers
Facebook ads are an effective means to reach new customers. Even better, these ads are cheap. Start with a daily budget of $5 and target a very specific audience to keep your costs down.
To nail this platform, learn how to run a successful Facebook ad campaign.
7Build email funnels
Email marketing remains one of the most effective ways to get repeat customers. Use your business blog to build a mailing list by encouraging your readers to subscribe. Nurturing your subscribers prepares them to become paying customers in the future.
Ideally, you’ll start collecting emails before you launch your product or service. This allows you to start building a relationship with these ground-level potential customer base and move them down the sales funnel as soon as possible.
8Speak at events
New business founders can get exposure by speaking at events. It’s easy to get a speaking gig if you’re able to demonstrate a great understanding of the event organiser’s goal.
This tactic not only creates value-added exposure for your business but also builds your credibility as a founder and a trusted resource in your industry or market space.
9Rent a festival booth
Cash in on spring and summer festivals. Start by researching local festivals, and speak with organisers to learn whether your customers are likely to attend the events.
It’s rare for a business to get a booth at Comic Con and come back without being swamped with sales and requests for press interviews.
Entice customers by giving out freebies in exchange for their email addresses. Promoting your brand at a booth while employing ingenuity and marketing savvy could produce a significant turnaround for your business.
10Volunteer under your brand’s name
Doing good for your community also benefits your business. Through a corporate social-responsibility campaign, your new business can open new doors to opportunity.
For example, give something free to your community. Helping people in need will get the attention of local newspapers. They’ll write about you and showcase your brand in the process, attracting even more supporters for your worthy cause (and your leads file).
11Give away samples
Costco knows the power of giving away samples. The retail giant has gained long-term customers from this practice.
You might offer a free trial (e.g. “first month free”) or send a free sample in the mail. Bite-size versions of the real thing can prompt people to spread news about your brand, resulting in free publicity and personal testimonials.
12Hire affiliate marketers
When done correctly, affiliate marketing can boost sales considerably. It’s one of the most cost-effective types of marketing because you only commission only after a successful sale. Affiliate marketers do the work for you by linking up with appropriate websites to promote your products or services.
You part with your cash only after they’ve managed to convert visitors into paying customers.
13Give samples to product critics
Criticism usually is perceived as negative. Instead, try to think of it as constructive input – a positive element. Criticism can become an effective way to refine or reinvent your product. If all you hear is good reviews, how can you tell if your product is faulty or missing a vital element?
Offering product samples to critics enables them to do a deep dive. Use that feedback to improve your product or fix components that don’t work as well as they should.
Workshops bring you face-to-face with potential customers. Use these events to share your professional expertise. Surely, there are aspects of your business you can tap into to connect with people on this level.
Providing value, increasing knowledge and sharing good practices raises brand awareness and builds trust. You’ll be viewed as an authority in your industry while developing the skills of potential customers.
15Post a video review of your product
A number of platforms feature video or live streaming content options to help you educate prospective customers about your products. Facebook Live videos are trending. One of this platform’s benefits: Viewers can comment and give feedback in real time. While they’re seeing you live, they’re beginning to develop a relationship with you and your brand.
You also can create a YouTube channel dedicated to your product. Incorporate these videos in your business blog and create circular references: Drive traffic from YouTube to your website by embedding a link within the video and its YouTube description.
16Secure a spot on product-review sites
Positive reviews can boost your brand’s credibility. They highlight your products and pique potential customers’ interest. Reviews based on unbiased opinions are the most likely to influence prospective customers.
Investing in review sites such as Yelp typically yields a healthy ROI. According to a BCG study, business owners who paid to advertise received typical yearly profits of $23,000, generating $15,000 more than those who used only the free Yelp Business Page.
17Post your services on Craigslist
Established in 1996, Craigslist has grown to become one of the most popular advertising websites. The average monthly page views in November 2016 were 50 billion, with a turnover of 60 million users.
Capitalise on this free platform to get your brand out there. Post your ad under the Services section to reach customers in your niche. You can list your ad under a specific region, city and type of ad.
Still, be aware you’re up against competition. Study Craigslist to find out how to stand out from the crowd, and position yourself accordingly.
18Send cold emails
The beauty of sending cold emails is that your customers can access them wherever they are. No longer are they restricted to a desktop computer. Modern technologies – mobile phones, laptops and iPads – make it a breeze to check emails on the go.
On the other hand, people are bombarded with emails every minute. How do you make yours stand out? Develop a strategy, and carry out A/B split tests to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Research your target audience, then use the right language and the right messages to make sure they click.
19Hire a human billboard
Human billboards are a growing craze. Although they certainly won’t work for free, part-time help won’t cost an arm and a leg. You’ll want to target students, retirees or anyone looking to earn extra cash.
A human billboard in colourful, full-body paint can craw attention to your brand – provided it’s an appropriate move for your company’s persona. Even wearing a sandwich board instead of the Pantone rainbow, your human billboard will be available to answer questions from potential customers.
20Wrap your car
Imagine the number of people who will see your brand as you drive your local streets and high-traffic areas.
Your car becomes a moving billboard, that drums up notice wherever you go. Even when parked, it attracts attention. Vehicle wraps help your brand gain recognition, and that top-of-mind awareness could drive a high percentage of direct sales.
21Hand out flyers
Although businesses started using handbills to promote their brands as early as the 18th century, flyers still are having a marketing impact in the 21st century.
Don’t limit yourself to handing out flyers to passersby in your neighbourhood. You can display these versatile materials in shop windows, mail them to specific contacts or leave them in shops where members of your target audience are sure to show up.
Flyers raise awareness of your brand and provide ample “real estate” on the page to give the reader or viewer a picture of who you are.
In addition, if people tuck your flyer away in pocket or snap a quick photo with their smartphone, they can refer to this info when they need to contact you.
22Run viral contests
Regular contests can ramp up your business quickly and build engagement with your audience. Plan them properly to ensure success.
Qualified winners should get free products as prizes. Contests should involve participants who can highlight your business on their social-media channels, so shares and likes quickly can go viral.
Another option: Invite participants to enter a contest with their email addresses. Follow up by sending sales emails.
23Build a product-page website
A product-page website is essentially a landing page. Showcase your product with images that display its best features. Choose a design that complements your brand, and include captivating copy that emphasises how your product or service solves a problem.
A combination of professional design and appealing images will attract target visitors and can help convert leads into sales. Make sure your product page includes an opt-in offer so potential customers can access your giveaway in return for giving up a few contact details.
24Create a punchy elevator pitch
Know how to sell your brand, and entice potential prospects in 30 seconds or less. Create a short, memorable elevator pitch. Then, practice until it’s perfect. Make it punchy, relevant and full of benefits. Use it to impress likely customers when they ask you about your brand. You never know when you’ll have an opportunity to pitch your products or services. Always be prepared.
25Send out press releases
What news can you share? What’s interesting? How do you differ from your competitors? Write a compelling story about your business. Submit it to various free public-relations sites to let the world know about your business.
Marketing your business doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. With creative thinking and a few tips in this article, you can grow your business more quickly. Choose which tactics would be most at-home in your industry. Plan properly, and don’t be afraid to step a bit out of your common comfort zone.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
4 Ways To Implement Strategic Marketing Without Breaking The Bank
Marketing your start-up is all about the right strategies, not how much money you spend. You need to build your reputation from the ground up. Here’s how you can get started.
Building a fledgling business is as much about increasing your client base as it is about building a positive reputation around the business and its expertise. Many experts and seasoned entrepreneurs argue that clients buy from people they trust and building that trust hinges on various parameters.
Take Steve Jobs, Wendy Luhabe, Richard Branson and many other leading business minds whose brands are built on years of credibility and trust. The truth is that equal attention needs to be given to great products and building trust within your client base.
Here are five skills that we’ve used to build our reputation at WordStart.
1Sharpen your writing skills for media and general communication
Create media coverage. Write on a company platform (like a blog) or for established media outlets. This will position you and your business in ways that get people to listen and share your knowledge.
Having your name next to an article on a respected platform can lead to useful connections with relevant contacts. A series of media features and industry commentary also help to position your business and team as experts in your field.
2Share industry trends
People will generally do research in and around an industry to find insights and trends, sometimes before they buy anything in that industry — and even afterwards. When I search for information on photography, Canon appears more than any other brand and they tend to set the scene on which device to buy.
Imagine your business is construction and that homeowners endorse your skills as a home improvement specialist. Packaging your knowledge into industry trends is also a great way to use your own lessons about the industry as you grow and it also helps you to connect with potential customers. Useful information with your name on it can increase your sales and client base.
3Edit. Edit. Edit
Something that cannot be stressed enough is that your writing in client documents can tarnish your brand. Many businesses tend to overlook the importance of grammar in their documents.
It can be difficult to reread and rewrite documents that you use in the business, but that is precisely what can lead to the loss of new and existing business.
Pay attention to how your business uses language and edit that work. When in doubt, read it again and be sure that nothing was missed.
4Practice public speaking and search for opportunities
After you have written for various publications, you increase the likelihood of being invited to speak at conferences and seminars, which means that people put a face and voice to the written expertise. In some instances, the speaking engagements can be paid for by conference organisers which can be an additional revenue stream.
Public speaking, especially industry-related speaking, will increase the likelihood of selling more products or services and this will separate you from the competition. By increasing the trust customers have in you, you can improve the likelihood of them buying from you.
Once a business is positioned as a team of experts with the ability to speak for their industry, opportunities open up for that business to create unique content. Industry leaders who are able to help the public to connect the dots through the information they share are regularly on guest lists.
Is there anything you can share that your industry peers and the public may find eye-opening? There may be a conference organiser looking for you.
5Educate the market and build a client base
One of the advantages of being part of an industry is that you have inside information that the general public does not have. This presents an opportunity for you and your business to become a self-nominated industry mouthpiece.
When an individual and business share news about an industry, they can create a new client base because the public associates them with that information.
One of the best cases in South Africa is Discovery’s Vitality rewards programme, where you earn points for being healthy. This does not mean that Momentum, Bonitas, Sanlam, Sizwe and other players do not have similar or even better offerings. Vitality is more visible and more vocal about the fact that leading a healthier life can get you rewards.
A great reputation may lead to positive word-of-mouth for your business and increased sales over a longer period than a single marketing message.
Cut The Bull That Comes With Women Saudi Drivers
If there is an opportunity to increase sales and dominate a market, hell they are going in, briefing their agencies to start the marketing and… well, cue the thoughtlessness.
Women belong in the kitchen, right? Wrong! Now they can drive in Saudi, and you know what that means? They can fetch the groceries too!
Bet the Feminists clicked on this article looking to wage a social media war. No need. The afore mentioned thinking is exactly how the quick acting social media teams of major car manufacturers are acting after King Salman announced the lift on banning women drivers in the kingdom.
Whether we think it’s progressive is not the debate here right now. I personally think its great that such a country who has long ‘protected’ its women from the horrors on the road now believes that women are capable of taking care of themselves out there. The issue? Let’s take one step back and mention one South African social brand so you can see where I am heading. Take Bic Pens with their infamous 2015 #HappyWomensDay post reading, “Look like a Girl, Act like a Lady, Think like a Man, Work like a Boss”.
What does a Pen in South Africa and a Car in Saudi Araba have in common you ask? All their CEO’s have a twig and two berries (66% of those car manufacturers who ‘praised’ Saudi Women drivers on social, are white men) and they didn’t get there without some form of business knowledge.
Related: 10 Laws Of Social Media Marketing
If there is an opportunity to increase sales and dominate a market, hell they are going in, briefing their agencies to start the marketing and… well, cue the thoughtlessness.
Thinking before Tweeting
There is nothing like a good tactical on Social Media. Every brand wants to be Oreos during the super bowl when the lights went out. Every Marketing Manager wants to be the one to get his or her clever execution out first because time is of the essence.
Did the car manufacturers do great tactical work? Absolutely!
Did the car manufacturers think about the role they didn’t play in the fight for the cause? Absolutely NOT! They just saw another opportunity to capitalise on ‘to be relevant’.
This ever-connected digital world we live in comes with an opportunity for brands to build deep relationships with their customers. Sure relevance is key, but do (straight, white, male) brands have a place in that conversation now that the hard work is done (by strong Saudi Women)? Was fighting for women’s rights to drive in Saudi ever part of their Brand DNA before the last week of September 2017? Nope, they just see an increase in sales come June 2018.
Common amongst those tactical auto brands’ values were customer service promises, the comfort of people in cars, and sustainability. Only one vouched for the respect for diversity, while another strived for integrity, vowing to keep its doors open to men and women alike. While I can understand that a Trans National Corporation needed to respect culture and politicophere of Saudi to be able to operate there, was there not an opportunity to lead the charge and help the 10- year fight for equality on the Kingdom’s roads? Would their auto brands need to advertise after being part of the battle after that?
The irony is that The Women to Drive Movement started with a 2007 YouTube video. Did none of these brands have an ORM tool that picked this up? I wonder if any evaluated the risks vs the returns had they supported the movement.
Sullivan Principles Anyone?
Back in 1977, The Sullivan Principles was a part of the world’s Corporate Social Responsibility as brands applied pressure on apartheid, South Africa. The corporate protest came with the thought that if business divested in SA, apartheid would eventually be cash-strapped and collapse. At the time General Motors was the biggest employer of Black South Africans and eventually was the first to pull out.
In 1999 the new Global Sullivan Principles was unveiled by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the preamble reads:
“The objectives of the Global Sullivan Principles are to support economic, social and political justice by companies where they do business; to support human rights and to encourage equal opportunity at all levels of employment, including racial and gender diversity on decision making committees and boards; to train and advance disadvantaged workers for technical, supervisory and management opportunities; and to assist with greater tolerance and understanding among peoples; thereby, helping to improve the quality of life for communities, workers and children with dignity and equality.”
The first part of the new Sullivan Principles reads:
(We) “express our support for universal human rights and, particularly, those of our employees, the communities within which we operate, and parties with whom we do business.”
If brands actually invested in the people and their lives first, the customers will follow. Do this and there would be no need to be super tactical when it comes to the celebrations of the marginalised. We need brands to value ethical and corporate social responsibility they have in the markets they operate in. We have seen that the likes of General Motors can have an impact on a country, especially in South Africa (let’s drop the fact that they have divested again for the purposes of this).
Bottom line is advertising, marketing and brands have the power to shape the world years before a few people can go at it alone. Yes, businesses need to make money, but see the bigger returns when you are a part of something. The returns will be greater than the PR value you got on that meaningless, thoughtless, and unearned tweet. I promise you.
4 Unique Marketing Ideas For SMEs On A Budget
There are a plethora of unique marketing ideas that have been proven to be effective and require only a modest initial investment.
When it comes to marketing, some business owners have to work on a shoestring budget. In fact, deciding which marketing or advertising strategies will yield the greatest results for the least amount of capital is one of the toughest challenges facing small to medium enterprises.
Thankfully, there are a plethora of unique marketing ideas that have been proven to be effective and require only a modest initial investment.
1Generate online buzz through digital PR
Building a relationship with the press is a great way to get the word out. Try finding blogs, newspapers, tabloids, magazines, and webzines that are relevant to your business and offer them an exclusive press release. Most news outlets will list a telephone number you can call or email address you can write for press inquiries.
If you’re a locally-oriented business, try reaching out to smaller publications like community newspapers or newsletters.
Remember to be courteous and not too pushy with the editors and reporters you come in contact with. It’s their choice whether they want to cover the story or not. The goal is to build a working relationship with them, and an overly aggressive or hostile attitude can jeopardize any chance of positive coverage in the future.
Journalists will take an objective approach to covering your press release, so don’t expect coverage to always be glowing. Still, it’s an incredibly effective way to start spreading word-of-mouth about your business. Articles like these help generate buzz about new startups, and people are more inclined to read them because they aren’t paid adverts.
Email marketing is “a type of direct digital marketing that uses electronic mail (also called email or e-mail) as the marketing communication delivery method.” It’s also one of the most effective, yet under-utilised marketing tools you can utilise on a tight budget.
The trick to successful email marketing is garnering a large roster of subscribers. This can be accomplished a number of ways. The most successful, by far, is by offering potential subscribers a free resource. Just what this resource is depends on your business, but it should be something a consumer would find highly valuable.
When it comes to email marketing software, there are quite a few options are your disposal. MailChimp is free to start with, but puts a price-tag on premium features. ReachMail is also free for up to 5 000 subscribers and 15 000 emails per month.
3Offer promotional vouchers and special deals
Offering coupons, vouchers, special deals, and one-time offers is a great way to attract new customers. It’s doubly beneficial because these new customers are more likely to be loyal to your business in the future.
While printing vouchers in a local paper works best for small, brick-and-mortar enterprises, don’t under-estimate the value of online promotions. Voucher Bin example of a website that connects consumers with businesses and brands offering special promotions.
4Social media influencer marketing
Whether your monthly budget is $1000 or $1,000,000, a good long-term marketing strategy should always be oriented around building beneficial relationships. The term influencer marketing refers to doing just that.
Though the concept has been with us for a long time, only recently has social media brought it to the forefront of modern marketing strategies.
“Influencer marketing can be loosely defined as a form of marketing that identifies and targets individuals with influence over potential buyers,” writes Kyle Wong in Forbes magazine.
“In the past, brands may have focused on popular bloggers and celebrities but today there is a new wave of ‘everyday’ consumers that can have just as large an impact.”
Try finding individuals who are influential on social media (look at their number of followers and post interactions) and offer he or she a few perks for mentioning your brand, product, or business. Try to target your efforts at people who would have a legitimate, enthusiastic interest in what your organization does.
Remember, you’re trying to build a long-term relationship with these individuals, so always approach respectfully and through the appropriate channels.
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