Are you an entrepreneur hustling to launch your newest start-up? Have a great new idea or invention that you need help getting to market and in front of the right consumers? Sick of working for bosses who don’t value your work and want to set your own schedule and be your own boss? Whatever your inspiration is for starting this new venture, you want to make sure the money you are investing is well spent. It is easy for advertising to get out of hand and expensive if you aren’t sure of the best tactics.
In tight economies marketing budgets usually take a hit, but that is the time to make smart choices and double down to make sure to keep your business front and center. During times of economic downturn, your customers will have less money to spend. This means that they are likely to think longer about purchases and when they become ready to spend, you want your brand to be top of mind.
Here are a few tips to help you market your brand on a budget:
Dial In Your Elevator Pitch
We talk about this with our clients a lot. If you’re put on the spot, how would you describe your company and it’s offerings in 30 seconds or less? Having a fine-tuned answer to that question is important because everywhere you go and everyone you meet is an opportunity to spread the word about your business. People are busy and you will only have so much time to capture their attention. Engaging them and their interest is your only chance to encourage them to start asking questions to learn more about your product or service.
It’s OK to Start Smaller
We all start somewhere. What is going on right around you? Are there networking events or other groups that make sense for you to become a part of? With little or no cost at all you can research your market. The more time you invest in identifying your ideal buyer the better you can be at focusing your marketing efforts and hone your messaging to attract and engage those people. Think about who your target customer is, their characteristics, interests and ways that you can connect with them. This approach helps ensure that the dollars you are spending are helping you communicate with those who are more likely to convert to actual sales. Are there places in your area where your ideal customer is more likely to frequent? Is there the opportunity to hang fliers or leave business cards? While this can’t be your only approach, it is an important one to consider.
Look Into Your Market and Competition
Take it a step further than looking into who your target customer is. What is your competition doing? If you are a new business trying to break into an existing market you don’t likely want to go in targeting areas where your competition is extremely strong and well established. Seek out areas where you can find weaknesses or gaps and try to hit those first. Searching for these holes will present the best opportunity for your business to have the chance to grow and establish itself as an expert with the ability to fill in those gaps.
Is Your Website Up To Par?
Engaging your site viewer as quickly as possible is crucial. What can you do to immediately engage and attract the attention of your customer? Don’t leave them clicking away to your competitor. Ensure that those who find your site can easily navigate and find exactly what they are looking for in order to convert them from a browser to a buyer. Make sure that your website is responsive so that regardless of the device they are using their experience will be as you intended. Make sure your site is optimized with smart search engine optimization (SEO) tactics. Entrepreneurs and small-business owners need to do their keyword research and build out their website in accordance with the latest SEO best practices. This is a smart area for you to invest. Google Algorithms and optimal SEO tactics change a lot. Find the right team who will know how to perform this competitive analysis and implement these targeted long-tail keywords in all appropriate areas throughout your site. This work will be rewarded with more targeted website traffic. Get your brand in front of the right eyes. Strategically target the ones who are actually searching for your product or service.
Are You Engaging Your Customers Through Social Media?
With the popularity of social media today it has become easier to effectively and affordably continue to get messages out to your audience, engage with them and keep them abreast of all of the latest and greatest about your company, products or services. Are you a motorsports company that has a lot of compelling video and images of sweet rides? Social media platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram and Facebook might be great for you. Have a high-end fashion line with lots of great lifestyle shoot images and new product shots you want to blast to your audience? Possibly Polyvore, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter will help engage your customer. Restaurants can blast pictures of their mouth-watering food out on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Yelp before peak meal times to entice people to stop in on their lunch breaks or decide on an unplanned dinner date. There is no shortage of social platforms to choose from. What makes most sense for your business?
Build and Utilize Your Network
A logical place to start is with your current network of friends, family and acquaintances. Let these people know about what you are doing. People who already know you are more likely to support you and help spread the word about your business. Networking should extend beyond that. What kind of area events can you attend? Get out there and shake hands and get to know more people. While you may not see an immediate opportunity for business or collaboration, you never know what a simple conversation may spark down the road. Building your own network and continually working to strengthen it can be one of your businesses greatest assets.
Establish partnerships with other businesses if possible. Can you help by cross-promoting each other’s businesses? When starting a new business you will have a smaller audience. Find business owners in target markets that overlap, but don’t compete with your brand. These cross promotions can help you grow quicker.
Many people won’t mind sharing information about your company when asked, but won’t necessarily do this without the prompting. Make sure to work hard to create satisfied customers and they won’t likely mind recommending your business to a friend or two. People take referrals from those who have experienced your brand seriously, so if you aren’t asking you are missing out on an opportunity for new business.
Keep Your Current Customers Happy
Bringing new business in the door is the hardest part. Keep your customers satisfied and then keep engaging them through social media, newsletters, direct mail and other methods to help remind them to come back. Make sure to keep them abreast of current promotions, new product arrivals, new services and top company news.
Let Them Try It
This tactic does not work with all businesses, depending on your product or service, but giving something away as a sample or allowing a trail period is an extremely effective marketing technique. How often do you taste a sample at a store and walk out with that item without having any intention of purchasing something like that when you came to the store? If someone is given the chance to experience your product or service pre-purchase, they are far more likely to be compelled to purchase it.
With our experience launching and growing a number of our own brands we know first hand what it takes to grow your audience, engage your target customer and keep them coming back. It’s hard work. Don’t know where to begin? Let the experienced team at 10twelve make a strategic plan to help you grow your business. Call us today for more information.