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Easy ways to promote your business
Starting a business isn’t easy, and it’s one thing that most entrepreneurs must do on a shoestring budget. Even if it’s a labor of love, figuring out how to promote your business with limited financial and staffing means takes focused effort and consistent reevaluation.
With that said, it’s possible to promote your business effectively and inexpensively. Utilizing modern technology and social media to the best of your ability will help your company grow and become sustainable – all without shelling out a fortune or dedicating a large amount of staff.
Get great leads with targeted email marketing
Experts agree that email marketing is a must for any business. Research shows that email marketing is one of the most effective sources of good leads, the easiest and most effective digital marketing tactic for great ROI and one of the best ways to get new customers.
But it’s not enough to just promote your business via email. Anyone can type a message and hit send. To properly promote your business, you need to create a designated email marketing strategy. Determine how often you want to send your newsletter – monthly versions are fast becoming the trend – and send out a high-quality newsletter packed with insight, analysis of industry trends and special deals.
Think of it this way: If you fill your newsletter with information your customers actually want and need, they’re more likely to bring their business to you and keep reading your marketing materials. If you fill your newsletter with useless promotional material, people will simply unsubscribe from your list.
A great newsletter gets forwarded and draws new customers. Use free email campaign services like MailChimp to send automated messages, targeted campaigns and marketing emails to customers, or use an email marketing tool like Sidekick that allows you to personalize your approach.
One of the best ways to promote your business is by targeting potential customers in your area. Get your brand into the local media and industry publications, and try to appear on websites of other local businesses. Each new place your business is seen gives it a new audience, and if that audience is local and interested in your industry, you are far likelier to gain great leads and customers than you would by placing advertisements in irrelevant places online.
Do your research when you start this process. If you want the local press to pick you up, get to know the reporters and publications that cover your local business community and your industry as a whole, and subscribe to Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to learn about scheduled articles that need industry commentary. Craft tailored, specific pitches for these contacts that will get them interested in your business. Highlight things like your local sales, your niche or your partnerships with other local businesses. If you’re looking for cross-promotional opportunities, target businesses in your area that are in a similar field or that offer a product supplemental to your own. You can engage in a free trade partnership, exchanging services for publicity or vice versa.
Let your happy customers help you
A loyal customer is the best salesman your business can get. That’s why it’s so crucial to create a raving fan culture around your business. Great client testimonials and dialogue are free forms of marketing that pack a powerful punch. Make sure you make and keep connections with your satisfied customers via email and on social media platforms.
If you have a particularly loyal and articulate customer, share their story with a reporter covering local businesses (with their permission and involvement, of course). The story will be compelling and include a great human-interest element that makes for excellent copy.
Be social media savvy
Social media is free and almost everyone uses it, which is why it’s a great medium to grow your business– as long as you make sure you use the right strategies to promote your brand.
First, choose the right platforms for your business. Facebook and Twitter are the two biggest platforms for most businesses, and almost any business can benefit from being on LinkedIn and YouTube (free commercials, anyone?). From there, though, you need to be cautious of taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
Think of social media as a toolbox, with the specific platforms you use being the tools themselves. There’s lots of ways to promote your business utilizing these tools, but they all hinge on selecting the correct platform for both your product/service and the customers you’re trying to meet.
Is your business a very visual one with beautiful products? Try Instagram and make the most of your compelling images. Is your target audience primarily mothers? Give Pinterest a try, as the site is often used by a primarily female demographic. Whichever platform you choose, focus on quality and do your research. Don’t post anything that isn’t your absolute best. This means proofreading your text, selecting clear, well-lit images and making sure your links go to functioning pages.
You should also make sure to have your brand guidelines and marketing strategy figured out before posting anything on social media. These platforms are the Internet home of your business; more than anything, they give you a place to interact with customers and show yourselves to the public. What’s your brand’s voice and core messaging principles? Craft these and commit them to memory before you launch a social media presence, and ensure that whoever is managing your social media accounts knows them intimately. Your social media presence often doubles as the actual face of your company, so when you’re engaging with the public, make sure you’re upholding your brand’s core values and personality.
We’ve all seen even the biggest brands commit a huge social media faux pas. As long as you have some guidelines in place, you can compose a post that will keep true to your product and your brand.
Engage with your followers
You can set up accounts on all the social media platforms out there, but they won’t do anything for you if you don’t engage with your followers. As we mentioned above, this is the face and voice of your business; if the only sounds you make – and the only things people see you doing – involve promotion and asking for “likes,” you won’t be very popular. Instead, join the conversation. Follow Entrepreneur Magazine’s 80/20 rule and focus at least 80% of your social media activity on engagement and connection, not promotion. Converse with them. Ask engaging questions at the end of each post. Learn more about who they are and what brought them to your business.
Customers and potential customers will contact your business via social media, so don’t ever miss these opportunities. You can leverage even negative comments on social media if you handle them quickly and helpfully. If someone is deliberately posting offensive material or posts on your page, block that user right away, but never fail to handle legitimate complaints.
If you foresee a busier day than normal in your future, you can manage your social media with ease by automating a post without seeming impersonal. You can do this by using a dashboard app like Hootsuite to plan out your social media week, and you can add in more spontaneous posts about trending issues as you go.
A brand new business is usually in desperate need of great marketing and bereft of a gigantic marketing budget, but that doesn’t mean you can’t promote your business with great success. Smart, organized business owners can use a variety of easy ways to interact with potential customers and earn their loyalty.
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