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Marketing Tactics

25 Ways To Market Your New Business On Little Or No Money

From high-tech (online videos) to no-tech (flyers and cold-calling), leave no stone unturned in your search for customers.

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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.

Related: Make Your Limited Marketing Budget Work For You

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

laptop blog

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.

Related: 6 Facebook Marketing Tips To Help Grow Your Small Businesses

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).

Related: Right Here. Right Now. How Marketing Is Evolving

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

product-sample

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.

14Offer workshops

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.

Related: How To Dominate Your Industry Using Effective Online Marketing

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.

Guy Sheetrit is the CEO at Over The Top SEO, a senior executive with 14 years experience in the technology, marketing and software development industries.

Marketing Tactics

6 Things To Consider For Putting Together Your Best Holiday Marketing Plan Yet

When autumn starts, will you be ready for the holidays, having already created a gift guide, email and social media strategies and more?

Syed Balkhi

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‘Tis the season for online shopping. Well, not quite yet, but it’ll be here before you know it. In fact, according to CPC Strategy’s survey results, 35.5 percent of shoppers surveyed planned on starting their holiday gift shopping before Thanksgiving. That’s why you need to start putting together your holiday marketing plan now.

As soon as autumn hits, shoppers are bombarded with stunning holiday advertising and jaw-dropping deals from companies that will be fighting for their attention during that busy season.

But how will your company break through the noise and get consumers to make holiday memories with your business?

Let’s get festive, then, and think about seven things you might consider when putting together your holiday marketing plan.

Create an email marketing strategy

There’s no better way to boost your holiday sales than to send deals straight into shoppers’ inboxes. Email still converts the best for online holiday shopping. According to Shopify, a staggering 8.8 billion data points were collected on Black Friday in 2017, in the form of email sign-ups and other lead-generation tactics.

Since holiday shopping starts as early as November, you’ll want to craft your email marketing messages now and schedule them to be sent automatically.

Not all customers are created equal, either, so use your customer data to segment your email marketing. For example, if a large proportion of your customer base are busy moms, don’t send a broad, generic email; instead, send them one with products and tips to ease their stress during the holiday season. Personalised emails will make you stand out from the rest.

Related: 5 Ways to Dazzle and Delight Your Customers This Holiday Season

Have a countdown timer for sales

holiday-store-open

Ever heard of FOMO (a.k.a. “the fear of missing out”)? Creating a sense of urgency is one of the most effective strategies to make consumers feel that something valuable is being offered that they don’t want to miss out on. An eye-catching way to create urgency is to display countdown timers for sales.

For example, American Express displayed a countdown to the expiration of a special Amazon deal it offered its customers.

You can easily add a countdown timer to your website for free using the T(-) Countdown plug-in for WordPress. Seeing a visual symbol, like a countdown timer ticking down the minutes, pushes consumers into action by raising the urgency level to high.

Think about a “free” shipping strategy

Since consumers today are spoiled with Amazon Prime and same-day shipping, your business needs to offer awesome shipping deals this holiday season in order to compete. By reducing shipping costs for your customers, you’ll increase your chances of shoppers buying from you instead of from a big-box retailer.

Want to offer free shipping but afraid of losing money? Set a minimum order amount – for instance, customers must spend $50 to unlock free shipping – or offer free shipping on select items, like your lightest items only.

That way, you can offer customers free shipping without cutting into your profits.

And remember to account for realistic shipping times and cutoffs throughout the season to ensure your customers receive their orders in time for the holidays.

Craft holiday-themed content

Content marketing is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site, so add a little holiday cheer to your blog.

Crafting holiday-themed content will get your business in front of a ton of consumers searching Google for holiday-based and buyer keywords. Make sure your content is valuable to the reader; if it helps solve their holiday problems, they’ll be more likely to share it.

Lululemon does this well by creating holiday-themed lifestyle blog posts as well as posts about gift ideas for your loved ones.

Start thinking about content ideas now so you won’t have to scramble at the last minute. Brainstorm some fun holiday topics and plan out your content using a content calendar. CoSchedule offers free content calendar templates that will help keep you organised during this hectic season.

Related: Gear Up your Marketing for the Holiday Season

Devise a social media strategy

Getting festive on social media is a great way to capture the attention of shoppers on the lookout for deals, and to inspire a cheerful connection between consumers and your brand.

A great tip to avoid becoming overwhelmed come November is to create all your social media graphics ahead of time.

Don’t have a graphic designer? Don’t worry. Canva is a free tool where you can easily create all the stunning graphics you need to advertise your products with high gross margins and your free shipping holiday deal. You can also find fun images to use to wish your customers a happy holiday.

Schedule all your posts with a tool like Buffer, to make your life even easier. And consider enabling a Facebook retargeting pixel, too. It’s a highly effective strategy to recapture those shoppers who left your site without buying. When users abandon your site in search of other deals across the web, a retargeting ad will “follow” them and display specific ads to encourage them to return to you.

Create a holiday gift guide

Finding the perfect gift can be stressful, so make things easy for your customers by creating a holiday gift guide. With a gift guide, you’ll be able to showcase your best products and increase organic traffic by taking advantage of the shoppers searching “gift guides” on Google.

Etsy curates stunning products for a gift guide its shoppers can easily browse.

You don’t have to be a computer wiz to add a gift guide to your site, a clever hack to create your own is to use a free menu plugin for WordPress like Restaurant Menu by MotoPress. Instead of food photos, add photos of your products and product descriptions; your customers will now have a convenient way to see what items you recommend.

You can also reach out to other websites or publications that will feature your products in their gift guide so that even more people will discover you.

Don’t wait any longer: The holiday season is right around the corner. With these simple strategies, your holiday marketing will turn jaded shoppers into jolly customers, and the boost in your revenue will be the best gift you’ve ever received.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Related: 8 Shopping Habits Of Millennials All Retailers Need To Know About

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Marketing Tactics

Ask These 3 Questions To Determine Where To Spend Your Marketing Budget

Stretching your marketing budget is imperative, especially when there aren’t that many marketing rands to stretch.

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As you grow your business, it’s important to be creative and efficient with your money. When it comes to marketing, there are a number of cost-effective ways to spend and save your money. So, if you’re worried about marketing on a limited budget, here’s some helpful info to know.

First, great marketing is about highlighting wants and needs and attaching them to desired outcomes. It’s possible to do that regardless of budget — and every company’s strategy will be different.

For example, when my consultancy worked with Dollar Shave Club to grow its platform beyond viral videos, we focused on establishing a unique voice, which led to creating an editorial component. When we worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger on his fitness and nutrition products, we focused on creating a core mission and understanding why he was involved in the product. And when we worked with Four Sigmatic to market its coffees and teas, we focused on customer acquisition and retention.

Related: 5 Ways To Market Your Business On A Limited Budget

3 Questions that Cut Through the Clutter

Those projects all started with the same three questions: What is the value and purpose of your product or service? Who is your target audience? And what is the best platform on which to reach them? That’s where you’ll want to invest most of your attention before you determine where to spend your money. (Notice my word choice: Your planning is an investment; where you spend is a cost.)

1. In general, we prefer to use digital campaigns

It’s easier to track what works and what doesn’t. Plus, digital creates multiple opportunities to engage. Think of it this way: 10% of your audience will buy, 10% won’t and 80% will be on the fence. Would you rather have one shot to convince that 80%, or multiple? By retargeting through something like Facebook ads or Google, or even creating a distribution channel like an email list, you can communicate repeatedly.

2. If you don’t have an audience, spend money fishing in small ponds where you know you can get a bite, and then set yourself up to communicate repeatedly

(This is where creating content as a form of acquisition or building an email list can be incredibly valuable.) Depending on your product or service, this could mean a very targeted ad to a small audience on Facebook — rather than attempting to reach millions — or setting up a pop-up shop, or getting a spot at a local farmers’ market.

Related: 4 Unique Marketing Ideas For SMEs On A Budget

3. If you already have an audience, turn them into super-fans who will bring their peers into your universe

Identify previous buyers and give them direct access to you through focus groups or calls. Reward them for their time with product or a gift certificate. When you show your consumer that you care about and appreciate them, it not only increases the likelihood of repurchase but also helps them personally invest in the soul of the business. Not to mention, their insights will help you understand why they bought and how to replicate that process.

Whatever you do — and no matter how big or small your budget — keep finding better answers to the core marketing questions and your success won’t hinge on any one platform.

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Marketing Tactics

Gen Z Is Coming! Are You Ready?

How do you market your company to this generation?

Stuart Scanlon

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According to the CNBC, about 61 000 Gen Zers are on the verge of entering the workforce and consumer market in the US alone.

They are digital natives; they have grown up in a world of vines, txts (yes, we know) and internet. Their attention span is shorter than ever, they are more connected than any other generation, and they are brilliant multitaskers. Gen Z is a more tolerant generation but also more cautious; studies have found less risk-taking amongst this group and an increase in thoughtfulness and questioning authority.

So, on the one side of this coin, how do you market your company to this generation?

1. By being transparent

Be upfront about your business, what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. They have lost faith in corporations. Thus, you must stop relying on and hiding behind small print. Yes, you need terms and conditions to protect your company, but when it looks like a miracle weight-loss advert of the 80s (“Eat anything you want just take this pill. Ts&Cs apply.”), you’ll lose customers.

Related: Investing in Young Entrepreneurs

Gen Z consumers want to see you are real; they don’t want models or celebrities but regular people who can assist them in a manner that speaks to them. And they will hold your business is socially accountable. Instead of producing millions of T-shirts at the cheapest possible price, they want local, equality and free-trade, and they want to know what businesses are doing for the environment and society.

Gen Z won’t accept your claims at your word; they want to see evidence in your company culture.

2. By offering options

A jewellery purchasing study has found that most Gen Zers don’t have a preferred shopping platform. What this means is your messaging, availability and culture need to be spread evenly across all contact points – sales, call centres, website and digital advertising. In fact, many Gen Z consumers rely on mixing their contact points.

That being said, they want immediate action. If they see something they want online, they will go to the shop just to have the item right now. More than immediacy, they also want custom-made or made-to-order products and services. They shy away from traditional made-to-stock methods, which creates plenty of room in the production industry.

3. By being forward thinking

We have to always remember what was mind-blowing inventions to other generations are the norm for Gen Zers. They hold brands and businesses to high expectations, and instead of being loyal to brands, expect brands to be loyal to them. As Gen Z is more focused on individuality, they are also proving to be a generation with a high entrepreneurial output. All this shows that they don’t want the norm; they don’t crave what’s new today, they want tomorrow, sustainability and innovation, and they want it now.

On the other side of the coin, how do you attract this generation to work at your company? In much the same way.

1. By being transparent

As much as you are hiring them based on what they bring to the table, so too are they looking at what you can afford them. But, they don’t just want to hear you tell them about the benefits, they want to see it – and they are not after just money. Gen Zers want to be financially secure, but also one that is fulfilling; one where they find purpose in their jobs and company.

2. By offering options

Gen Z employees don’t want to work eight to five, they don’t want to be chained to a desk, and they don’t want to be micro-managed. Give them flexibility on how they want to conduct their work and how they can communicate with their colleagues. Create an understanding workspace for their needs and help them improve their skills – for instance, it’s been reported that a stumbling block for Gen Zers is communication. Growing up with emojis and text messages make face-to-face conversations, business calls and writing emails difficult for them.

Gen Z employees want to work hard and grow their skills. Even though they’re growing up in a super-paced society, they want to climb the corporate ranks at the given speed. What they crave, with urgency, is gaining value from their jobs.

Related: The Z Generation

3. By being forward thinking

They are lateral thinkers, and their creativity is not just outside the box but has broken the box completely. Gen Z is incredibly tech-savvy, and they will challenge the systems and procedures you have in place if these are not providing the needed speed and data required. Thus, they crave to work in an environment where they can push boundaries and ultimately help the company move forward. Hiring from the Gen Z pool can provide you with innovative insights into your business that can grow it towards tomorrow’s giants.

The only way to be sure you are future-proofing your business is by guaranteeing it caters for future customers and employees, by relying on forward-thinking enterprise resource planning software, for instance. Epicor ERP software ensures that their clients stay agile and innovative through trusting top minds to build and develop intelligent systems that open doors for Gen Zers. It’s Epicor’s innate tech-savviness that allows them to visualise the landscape of tomorrow and develop the software to support it today.

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