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Marketing is essential for all businesses, and particularly when you are self-employed or have just started up a small business. Without being able to rely on global prestige like the industry giants, attracting new customers, showcasing your products or services, and nurturing the customers you already have means using an effective, imaginative and eye-catching array of marketing techniques.
Investing in your marketing strategy doesn't automatically mean high spend. In many cases, great marketing relies on targeted messaging and good communication. This post will talk you through some effective marketing techniques as well as introducing some more contemporary approaches to marketing and how to effectively implement them.
Digital marketing on a budget
Digital tools have made marketing affordable for many small businesses. There are many online tools available that even make it possible to develop professional looking marketing campaigns for free! All it will cost you is your time; but remember time is money!
Here are a few ideas of what you could do:
Build a website
This is the best place to start for any small business. Having a website means that your customers have a hub for information about your brand, your products or services, and hopefully several positive testimonials. Creating a website doesn't have to cost a fortune, you can even do it for free, but it needs to make a great first impression. It needs to represent your brand and have all the information a prospect wants and start to build trust and great customer relationships.
Top tip: On your 'About Us' page, it's a good idea to explain a bit about your business but also a bit about yourself as the business owner. This helps your prospective customers relate to your brand and what you are trying to do as a business.
Write a blog
A great way to use your website is to host other elements of your marketing strategy like a blog. Blogs are a great way to showcase your professional knowledge and expertise, engage and nurture your customers and attract them to your website from social media and other channels. A blog post doesn't have to be long, a simple '3 Tips for…' or a 'How to…' gives your prospects helpful insights which create opportunities for you to raise brand awareness and ultimately market your products or services.
Send a weekly or monthly newsletter
Another classic example of marketing in the digital age. Having a regular newsletter means you can stay in communication with customers or prospective customers to build a positive rapport. This is also a great opportunity to plug your blog or any offers you might have. A 'Friday Round Up' or a 'What's happening this month' are two good content examples for a monthly newsletter.
Social media marketing
Most small businesses and self-employed people use social networking sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. These free tools can help you get your business in front of large audience if you create content that your target customers love. While it may seem easy to produce one piece of content and share it to all platforms, it's important to understand the intricacies of the content that suit each platform.
Top tip: Show your face. Though many people are reluctant to show their faces on their professional or brand accounts, showing the person behind the business is a great way to build a rapport with your prospective customers and build yourself up as a trustworthy brand.
Great content doesn't have to cost £££s
Creating great content not only means making it look professional and on-brand but also means it's directed at the right audience. If you know your target customers well, it becomes much easier to create content they'll engage with. With just a smartphone you can create videos and images that will help you stand out from the crowd and attract the right prospects to your website or social media channels.
Top tip: If you don't have lots of photos or videos that reflect your brand or what you do, or if you don't think of yourself as being very creative, there are online tools which can help.
Our DIY Marketing webinar shares many of these tools as well as lots of useful advice for getting started with marketing your small business. Click on the link here to register (it's free!) >>>
Grow your following by networking
Never underestimate the power of your engaged followers! Building a good relationship with your customers or prospective customers means you are much more likely to grow your network and spread the word about your products or services.
Building your following cross-platform relies on great content and mutual engagement. Simply put, search for the people that you think will be interested in your services and engage with their accounts. For example, if you want local customers, find a local business account and follow the people that follow them. If they follow you, engage with their content by liking or commenting on their posts and hopefully they will do the same.
Shout-outs are another great way to work with someone to mutually grow your followings. Share one of their posts with a caption that recommends their services, they'll do the same and you should gain some new followers from their account.