Once you’ve launched your startup, the ideal next step would be to work on getting considerable clout in the market you’re trying to penetrate.
You start by learning about things like reaching the right audience and making sure that you keep the ones you have already engaged.
But no matter how great your product or service is, it’s the “getting yourself out there” part of the process that can leave you dumbfounded.
It’s not as if your prospects don’t want your product or don’t trust your company. It’s just that they don’t even know you exist. And that’s where the biggest challenge lies.
Bringing in new customers without a sizeable marketing budget can be particularly tricky for brand-new businesses. You have to put in great effort, including time and money, for things to actually work—or so you’ve been told.
So, how can small businesses like yours attract new customers and make more money without getting drained dry?
Here are seven of the simplest and most surprisingly cheap ways to market your products or services.
Freebies, special offers, and discounts
“Free” rules them all. Everybody wants free stuff, so giving away items or rendering free services to promote your brand is a surefire way to attract customers.
Customers love redeeming freebies because all they have to do is sit back and enjoy a product or service without any risk.
There are a hundred and one ways to carry out such a promotion. Take note of a couple of them through these examples.
Example: The Walgreens website regularly features free and discounted items on its homepage.
Example: When Krispy Kreme opened its first store in New Zealand, the company gave out free shirts and a dozen glazed donuts to the first 100 customers in line.
Note, however, that you should be careful when figuring out what you’ll be giving to customers and how many customers will get to enjoy them. The key here is to give your business a promotional boost using the technique, and not to incur losses from it. The exclusivity of the deal is also bound to make it more appealing to your audience.
If people can’t get something completely free from you, they’d want to get it at a discounted price. So, discounts and other similar deals work great, too. Consumers tend to feel like winners when they pay less than full value for something. They would grab the deal right away because it might be gone tomorrow.
Engage on social media
Ask yourself again if you’ve done enough on social media to make your company more visible. It’s not enough to have a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram account set up to get more eyes on your profiles. You have to nurture them by publishing valuable content to make the strategy work. You also have to remain consistent with what your brand’s voice is to truly engage your audience.
While there are countless paid efforts on social media you can try out, it’s better to get the basics down to a tee while you’re still in the process of growing your audience and prospects. With a little help from the Digital Marketing Institute, you can start by determining which of the available social media platforms you should focus on.
- Facebook would be helpful if you plan to reach a wider audience or target a very specific niche.
- If your brand relies heavily on visuals, get on the graphics-intensive platform Pinterest.
- Most of your content should be on Twitter if your business thrives on urgency, freshness, or trends.
- If you belong to a company with a business-to-business (B2B) model, LinkedIn should be your platform of choice.
If your product requires some form of explanation or a demo, hosting a webinar is a cheap and efficient way of generating more leads and eventual clients. YouTube videos just don’t cut it anymore, especially now that people prefer to interact with a live person when it comes to doing business.
Webinars are extremely interactive and robust. They can accommodate a bigger number of participants compared to regular video conferencing. They can provide the host with detailed information about the attendees that can be later used for tracking and reporting. Most webinar services, such as the one RingCentral offers, deliver rich video and audio together with other useful functionalities like chat and screen sharing to help maximize productivity.
Word of mouth
Remember when you left a glowing review on a restaurant’s Facebook page following your great dining experience? Think about the last time you paid for something and felt like you had to tell your friends about it. All of these scenarios could qualify as word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM).
Word-of-mouth marketing is perhaps one of the most organic and valuable ways to generate buzz about a product or service. The great thing about it is that it’s free; it is the customer’s experience that triggers the natural advertising or promotion.
Check out the following stats on why WOMM still works:
- There are 3.3 billion brand mentions in America every day. (Adweek)
- Nine out of 10 conversations about brands happen offline. (AdAge)
- Americans mention specific brands about 60 times per week. (The Viral Agency)
- Ninety-two percent of consumers trust peer recommendations. (Joey Little)
- Sixty-six percent of brand conversations are mostly positive. (Jackie Huba)
Be forewarned, however, that word-of-mouth marketing won’t work unless you have a truly great product or service. You have to have that compelling pitch; otherwise, no one will pay attention. It might even lead to bad publicity if you can’t handle it correctly.
If you want your company to be something that people talk about, you have to offer value.
Another way to expand your customer base is through networking. You can choose to rely on your existing network to promote your product, but once you exhaust this resource, it will be best to focus on growing your network even more.
Participate in networking events particular to your niche and join organizations relevant to your market. Partner with companies or brands that will help highlight what you offer. Speak at events and share your expertise to gain more connections and establish yourself as an authority in your industry.
Corporate social responsibility
In a previous post, we discussed how businesses are now into the business of doing good and how they are seeing results for such endeavors. Companies that engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR) are getting noticed like never before.
It’s no longer enough to have a great product or service. Companies are expected to deliver real and meaningful social impact and be committed enough to follow through with it. They are starting to care and they listen to these demands because their customers do.
And while it’s more taxing to engage in CSR compared to more conventional marketing approaches, it’s an investment that actually pays off in the long term.
A lot of entrepreneurs are neglecting the wonders of getting themselves on the map. It may be hard for customers to find you if you miss this step. Make sure that your business shows up on Yelp and Google Maps, because a lot of customers use these places as a starting point for transactions.
If you don’t have a physical location, it may be wise to optimize your website’s pages for searchers with emphasis on your target market’s locality to establish your local presence.
After discussing a number of cheap and effective ways to attract customers, it’s time to take action. Although not every method will work for every small business, it will be great to see which strategy or combination of strategies will work for your current setup.
If you have tried any of the abovementioned methods, please share your experience with us by leaving a comment below.