A lot of business owners tell me, "We don't have a marketing budget." Hmmm... do you have an office supply budget? Yes. Travel budget? Yes. Promotional item budget? Yes. But, you don't have a marketing budget? Well, if you're nodding your head, you're in good company.
Here are 3 ways to market your small business, whether you're stingy or cash strapped.
1. Get out there...PHYSICALLY.
I am primarily a digital marketer and social media manager, but I always tell clients that they need to network, volunteer, get involved in something that matters to them, grow an email list, sponsor your kid's team, align themselves with a charity that has the same audience as you or purchase a list and pick up the phone.
Nothing tells or sells a story better than good ol' human interaction.
And it doesn't just have to be a business networking event, or a 'yawn' Chamber of Commerce luncheon that you dread. It can be heading to a 'Meet Up' with like minded people that enjoy something you do. Everyone almost always asks, "so, what do you do?"
My favorite example of great marketing is from the Netflix show Better Call Saul (prequel to Breaking Bad). Jimmy McGill (aka Saul) decides to go into elder law in his early years of practicing. What does he do? He goes to the area senior living homes. He talks to them, plays cards with them and runs BINGO every Friday night (plus, the BINGO cards have his tagline all over them). Through a chance encounter with a resident, he uncovers the grounds for a multi-million dollar lawsuit.
2. Be an expert and do what your competition isn't.
Let's say you are a plumber. You've been in the business for 30 years. You're the best damn plumber in Tulsa. I'm pretty sure that your competition is sitting around with a dated ad on Angie's list waiting for the phone to ring. You should be tweeting fun facts about plumbing that get your audience laughing. Plastering your social media and truck with awesome graphics, posting Q&A's, videotaping issues and repairs, posting videos on YouTube for an archived library of Q&A's when something minor goes wrong at home. Create a cool magnet as a leave behind in case the inevitable happens again. Go above and beyond what your competition is doing. Stay cutting edge and relevant. Put a little money into SEO and ALWAYS ask for reviews.
Do you need some public speaking practice? Call your local SCORE Chapter or library and offer to speak on a topic that would be beneficial to entrepreneurs or your target audience.
BLOG on LinkedIn. BLOG on your website. BLOG on your neighborhood website. Answer questions for the news. Offer to write an article for a local paper. When I worked for Humpy Wheeler, we almost always got a call from the media to interview him for anything NASCAR related - well into his retirement. He was an expert, and people loved hearing his point of view.
3. Be like Tesla.
So, we all know Tesla, right (the electric car)? I can't even remember the last time I saw one, it's certainly not like a Camry or something you see everyday. However, I know it's the most cutting-edge car of its kind - and probably will always be.
Tesla Motors has no advertising, no ad agency, no Chief Marketing Officer, no dealer network. And that’s no problem. – AdvertisingAge
Guess what? Tesla has $0 in Marketing Budget. That's right. No huge print ads in the New York Times. They basically have Elon Musk and a phenomenal product - they have advertising that is earned, not bought. If you want to see how they did it, click here.
Tesla's fans are crazy brand advocates, and yes, there are haters. Who cares? That means you have something worthwhile to say, and people are listening to you (hello, Donald Trump!). Tesla has a story, and Elon Musk tells it over and over, in the media, YouTube videos, interviews, etc. They are insanely focused on their goals, refining production and pouring their money into research and technology that their super fans and media WILL talk about...for 'free'.
I'll close with this.
Many small business owners spend a lot of money on marketing or advertising campaigns and have no idea if they worked or not. If you have a small amount of money to spend on marketing, you have to be smart and focused. Social media gives you a great way to brand yourself quickly and inexpensively - however, never do a campaign without a call to action (to track your ROI), a way to add email lists or client data to your CRM, a time sensitive offer that you can draw attention to and tweak if you need to (or better yet, run again in the future if it was a home run), and get an expert to help you if you need it. It will save you time and money down the road.
PS For more helpful tips - visit my blog at: http://mintmarketingsolutions.com/mint/
PPS Get a marketing checklist freebie from me by clicking here!