Generating leads is fundamental to the growth of any small business. Promoting the profile of your company can be a challenging process, but you don’t need to be a sales and marketing guru to run a successful marketing campaign.
Here are a few suggestions from Express Accountancy on how to market your business on a very small budget.
Know your budget
If you are planning on paying for specific services to help get your business off the ground, i.e. pay per click (PPC) advertising or website design, make sure you stick to your initial budget and don’t overspend. A good accountant will be able to help you with financial planning, and ensure that you have the cashflow to cover your outlay on marketing activities.
Free taster sessions
A lot of business owners will see the word ‘free’ and run a mile, but offering prospective customers something for free could reap rewards for your business.
If you offer a free trial, or a taster session for one of your services, you won’t generate any revenue, but attendees will be more likely to consider paying for your services in the future if you’ve made a good impression.
For example, if you are a self-employed personal trainer, you could go to a local football team and offer a free 20 minute fitness session at the beginning of their session. Having done the session, if any players in the team are looking to improve their fitness by hiring a personal trainer, they will be more likely to consider you.
Word of mouth
Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools you can have and, according to a study performed by McKinsey & Company, it is the primary factor behind almost 50% of consumer purchase decisions. The question is though, how can you get your existing clients to refer you to their friends and colleagues?
You can think about offering half price services for those who refer you to a friend, but the reality is that in most cases, if someone is going to recommend you to a friend they will do so with or without such an incentive. As a result, the best thing you can do is focus on your customers and providing them with a positive experience.
If you are just starting out and have a limited client base, word of mouth recommendations can be difficult to achieve as simply not enough people know about you yet. Just focus on providing a quality service and getting your name out there and the word of mouth recommendations will come.
Develop a great website
Whether you’re a freelancer working from home, or the owner of a local shop, a good website is essential. Even if you don’t plan to sell your products and services online, your website can act as place where people can go to find out more information about who you are and what you do.
There are countless free tools available that can help you to get your website online in a matter of minutes, or if you would rather have something a bit more professional, a quick Google of cheap web design will bring up an array of low cost fixed fee agencies.
Below are a few things you should consider when setting up your website:
- What domain name will you choose – A domain name is the URL that people will type into their web browser to be taken directly to your website. When thinking about the URL, if your company name isn’t available think of some short snappy words that describe your service. Be aware that many free web design tools don’t include a domain name and your URL could look like this: yoursite.websitebuilder.com.
- Think usability over flash – When it comes to the design of your website, at the forefront of your mind should be usability. What’s the sense in having flash animations shooting around the page if they do nothing but distract visitors and damage the user experience?
- Content is king – Google loves new and relevant content, so make sure you regularly update your site with new pages, posts and guides.
For more information, read our guide to getting your small business online.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are far more than just tools for keeping up to date with friends; in fact many businesses now have entire divisions that focus solely on targeting customers through social media.
Sign up to these sites and think about a clear strategy that will provide value to your business. Don’t just sit behind your computer tweeting all day for nothing. Some companies choose to use social media as a customer service platform, but it’s entirely up to you to determine how best to utilise these services.
Interact on forums and networking sites
One of the most popular ways of building a profile as a small business or freelancer is via posting on forums and networking sites. If you are a freelance web designer, for example, getting involved with discussions on small business forums is a great way of generating awareness within the community and when someone from those forums wants a website designed, hopefully they will think of you.
If you are offering professional services, then LinkedIn is also a ‘must’ for networking with colleagues and potential clients.