Marketing a local business can be a challenge, especially if your advertising budget is small. Try these low-cost ways to market your small business, get customers in the door and boost sales:
Identify your target market
Start by identifying the customers who are most profitable and bring in the most dollars. Concentrate your marketing efforts on the ideal customer, rather than trying to bring in anyone and everyone. Targeting your marketing will help reduce money and time wasted on futile advertising efforts.
Write a marketing plan
After identifying your target market, figure out how best to reach them – by email, social media, your website? Use this information to make a marketing plan. Figure out how you will differentiate yourself from your competition. Funnel your marketing dollars to avenues that will reach your ideal customer, rather than using a scattershot approach.
Fine tune your website
Make sure your website answers all the questions that a potential customer may have about your business. Add content, like a blog, to show off your expertise. Check that everything is spelled correctly and that there is a call to action to try out your business. Include popular search terms, key words and the names of the communities you serve on your website to help it rank higher in internet searches. Make sure your website is mobile friendly.
Use social media
Think of social media as a way to have a conversation with your customers, rather than simply selling. Gather customer testimonials, hold contests and giveaways. Ask questions and give tips and advice that show you are an expert in your field. Check out our blog with more social media tips for business owners.
Use digital marketing
Start an email newsletter to reach out to already loyal customers and offer them incentives to come back. Take advantage of free business listings on sites like Yelp, Google My Business and Bing Places for Business. Make sure the listings are packed with information and photos. Any backlinks to your own website will help with search engine optimization, which helps you rank higher in internet searches.
Have a theme day
If you have a brick and mortar shop, pick a theme that will be popular with your customers and do a promotion. Try things like Summer Fun, Football Frenzy, Back to School or Patriotic Day. Offer a discount, have a drawing or do a giveaway. Promote your theme day on social media and put up festive decorations.
Have a sidewalk sale
Dispose of end-of-season inventory and entice new customers to look at your shop with a sidewalk sale. Promote the sale on your Facebook page with a countdown to sale day. Give away cards or fliers leading up to the sale. Ask your local Chamber of Commerce if there is an end-of-season joint promotion with other local businesses that you can join.
Join your business neighbors
Get together with neighboring businesses and create a joint promotion that will help everyone. Create a savings pass so that the customer receives a marked at each business they visit to be entered into a prize drawing. Hand out coupon sheets with discounts from several different businesses. Get customers excited by sharing sales news on social media. Offer a special code, for social media followers, good for a discount or freebie.
If you work with other businesses on a joint promotion, use a shared hashtag on your individual social media platforms. Try flash sales to encourage customers to stay with you on social media throughout the day. Use Facebook Live to advance upcoming theme days or broadcast an event. Share your best photos on Pinterest or Instagram.
Show your best side
Show off your inventory by creating displays that are orderly, attractive and easy for customers to sift through without making a mess. Make sure light bulbs are replaced and the floor and little-used corners are clean. Create a welcoming atmosphere with appropriate music and employees that share your values.
Build a rewards program to increase customer loyalty, like a punch card that gives customers a discount after a certain number of dollars spent. Start a referral program to reward current customers with a coupon for referring new customers.
Use your creativity and think outside the box to find low-cost marketing ideas for your small business.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Ameris Bank is not affiliated with nor endorses any of the companies featured in this article.