We all know how vital marketing is to the survival and growth of our business. But as small business owners, our marketing budget can often be the first area to be cut when cashflow is tight and business is slow.
Still needing to generate business, we’re required to think a little more creatively to grow and succeed.
So to ensure you don’t lose momentum with your marketing in times of limited cashflow, here are six more no-cost or low-cost marketing strategies that can help you generate a lot of business without spending a lot of time, money or effort.
1. Up-sell your existing clients
Having your existing customers buy from you continually is far more cost-effective than sourcing new customers.
To help this process along, send out a special offer or voucher soon after your customers have made a purchase, thanking them for their business and rewarding them with a personalised offer just for them. You could do this in your newsletters too, offering subscribers special offers as a call to action.
You may also like to create a customer loyalty program, where they get a bonus or free product or service once they have bought a certain number of products or services from you or spent a certain amount of money. The key to a successful loyalty program is to make sure the incentive is high enough so they will want to keep coming back.
Networking is a great way to build your business. It is high leverage, low cost and when done right it can be incredibly profitable. Plus with so many baby-friendly business networks around, even us mums in business who struggle to find suitable childcare can experience all the benefits networking has to offer.
When you’re looking to network, it pays to know exactly what you want and who you want to connect with. Not only will this help you determine what networking groups you should be attending, it will also help you to know who you should be speaking to at the event, making your networking far more strategic and profitable.
3. Host beneficiaries
Host beneficiaries are a joint venture arrangement where you utilise someone else’s database or contacts and give them something in return to make it win/win like a referral fee or free products or services.
A host beneficiary could be done as a sales letter or email you write that is written as though it is coming from the host (person whose database you are using) to introduce you and your offer to their database.
Another example of a host beneficiary is a fish bowl (glass bowl) placed at the host’s place business with a competition for your products or services. The idea is for their customers to place their business card or an entry form into the bowl to ‘win’ and you collect their names and details. While you can’t just add anyone to your email list, you could call all of the people and offer a smaller runners-up prize for those who don’t win so you have the opportunity to talk to them anyway.
Like any joint venture, you want to make sure you have synergy with the business you partner with and that it is win/win/win (for you, them and their customers). So an image consultant, for example, might partner with a hairdresser by having a fish bowl at her salon offering a “wardrobe makeover” competition to the hairdresser’s customers. This could also be reciprocated with the hairdresser holding a competition on the image consultant’s blog and/or newsletter. Both competitions give their customers added value and they gain exposure to each other’s database.
Speaking, while a little nerve-racking, can be a great way to gain exposure to new people, establish yourself as an expert and potentially pick up new clients.
Make a list of different topics you would be comfortable speaking on (making sure your content is interesting, informative and relevant) and focus on targeting groups who will have your potential clients.
5. Guest post on blogs
Guest posting on blogs is another great way to reach a new audience, build credibility and increase links back to your own website.
To make your posts more relevant ask for a media kit or at least some more information on the blogger’s audience so you can make your posts educational, entertaining and personalised to provide real value for readers. The more value you provide, the more interest you will generate in your expertise.
6. Run competitions
Competitions, whether done online or offline, can be a great way to attract new contacts and clients. To further your reach and increase the value of your prizes you can also partner with other businesses so you get exposure to each other’s databases.
If you do partner with other businesses to hold a competition, make sure they share the same target market so your exposure is targeted at potential customers and will likely increase enquiries not just competition entries.
Do you have any low-cost or no-cost marketing strategies that you use in your business?