When you think about putting together a marketing plan, what’s the first word that comes to mind? For most of us, it’s probably overwhelming. What channel should you use? How do you know you’re reaching your customers? Why can’t you get any likes, and what the heck is Snapchat anyway? Trying to get your company noticed makes you want to pull your hair out.
Before you go totally bald, though, read on. Marketing doesn’t have to be scary, complicated or expensive. In fact, many things you can do are absolutely free. Here are seven cheap and simple ways to market your business now.
- Track Your Customers
A lot of small-business owners try so many marketing ideas that they truly don’t know what’s working and what’s a complete and total bomb. Find out where your business is coming from and optimize that channel.
Quick Tip: Tracking your business doesn’t need elaborate software or a staff of rocket scientists to work. It can be as simple as asking your customers how they heard about you and writing down their answers on a yellow pad or listing them on a spreadsheet.
- Create a Customer Survey
A customer survey is another great way to engage your clients, plus it allows you to find out how you can better fill their needs and improve your business.
Quick Tip: There are a number of free online services that allow you to create and publish surveys in a matter of minutes. Remember to keep them short and sweet to up your chances for responses.
- Get Social
According to a recent survey by Pew Research Center, 69% of Americans use social media. So any business that does not post on at least one platform, like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for example, is losing out. The key is to develop a social personality that’s fun and friendly. You’re creating a conversation, not selling or bragging about how wonderful your products or services are.
Quick Tip: Start with one platform that works best for your target audience. If you’re selling fishing lures, for example, Pinterest might not be for you. Ninety-three percent of Pinterest pins are made by women. Use a survey—see above—to find out where your customers are hanging out online.
- Create a Referral Program
Social media’s not the only way to get people talking. Actual word of mouth is still one of the most powerful tools around. Create your own referral program and reward your customers who recommend you to others.
Quick Tip: You don’t have to break the bank to get your clients bragging. You would be amazed what people are willing to do for a free T-shirt, small discount or movie pass.
- Give It Away
Providing a sample is still one of the quickest, easiest ways to get people to try your product or service, plus it creates brand loyalty with new members of your target audience.
Quick Tip: Let your customers know via your new social media platform what you are offering, and bam—you’re about to hit it out of the park.
- Start a Bimonthly Email Campaign
Send your entire database a value-added email. It can be a coupon or a special deal. Helpful information and timely tips can be just as valuable too. If you own a landscaping business, for example, let your readers know that fall is the perfect time to fertilize the lawn. You’re not going for the ask; you’re serving them instead.
Quick Tip: Nothing will turn off a customer quicker than being slammed by too many emails, even when they think you are unbelievably awesome (which we know you are). Schedule your campaign for every other month so you are not overwhelming the people you are trying to serve.
- Get Out of the Office
Want to drum up some new business? Then get out of the office and talk to your prospects face to face. Find out what their pain points are and how you can help them.
Quick Tip: Just like everything else you do, make visiting your potential clients a specific goal. Remember, for a goal to work, it must:
- Be specific
- Be measureable
- Have a time limit
- Be yours
- Be in writing
Marketing your business doesn’t have to be scary. With a little imagination, some concentrated effort, and customer information by your side, your competition won’t have a ghost of a chance.
An essential characteristic of any great leader (or marketer too) is a willingness to learn. And one of the easiest ways to gain knowledge is with our EntreLeadership Podcast. Each week, we share tools, tips and great conversation with some of the top business and leadership experts in the country, as well as interviews with fellow EntreLeaders. Subscribe now.