If you are a small business owner, your days are busy with the day-to-day of running of your business and ensuring customers have the best experience possible. But, promoting your small business is essential for continued growth. If people don’t know about you, your services, and your products, how will they become your customers?
Use these free and low cost marketing ideas to help promote your business.
Ask for Reviews
Reviews are powerful. Eighty two percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses. Having online reviews makes consumers more likely to use a business. It’s also a strong ranking signal for search engine results.
The best way to get reviews is by simply asking your customers to write them. You can do this in person during the sale, but perhaps the easiest way is to ask through email. You can come up with a template to send to customers after a transaction simply asking if they would like to leave a review. By including a link to the review site you can make it easier for the customer to follow through with their review.
Asking for online reviews also gives you the opportunity to gauge how customers perceive your business. If one person is having an issue with your business and writes a review noting it, you can bet others are also having the same issue. Knowing about it gives you the opportunity to correct the issue before it drives away repeat customers.
As part of Always Relevant Digital’s Local Rank SEO Package, we will ask for customer reviews for you.
Hold an Online Contest
We’ve all seen businesses on social media asking their followers to like and share a post to be entered into a drawing. While these types of contest can lead to your business’s Facebook page having a small bump in Facebook engagement, they don’t help very much. You’ll get more likes from people who otherwise wouldn’t have liked your Page, and any future Facebook post reach will be diluted by the new likes.
A better online contest that attracts the right kind of engagement has to be more specific. Ask people to post photos to your Facebook page of your product in use, or ask them to post photos to their own wall and tag your business.
For instance, we had great success with a toy company asking their customers to post photos of their kids enjoying one of their older products to their page; and the best photo submissions would receive a package containing the newest model. Or a restaurant asking customers to post couple photos ahead of Valentine’s Day for a chance to win a romantic dinner.
Basically, anything that takes a little effort to enter will be a greater success than just asking the public to like, share, and tag a friend. You’ll find more organic traffic and your business’s contest will appear less spammy.
Apply for Business Awards
You can’t win if you don’t enter. Your business and employees are award-worthy, right? So why not apply for a business award. Winning an award gives your business bragging rights and the opportunity for press releases.
A mention in a national or local publication, or even an industry-specific publication, can be great for your organic SEO which will lead more potential clients to finding you.
What Small Business Awards are There?
The first place to check is your local Chamber of Commerce. You’ll be competing against fewer businesses compared to a national award. Winning an award from the Chamber of Commerce can solidify your position as an important local business. There’s also industry-specific awards or awards that can be entered.
And it’s not just your business, your employees can apply for awards too that will give your business bragging rights. Do you have an outstanding salesperson? Or a barista who can make a whipped coffee like none other? There’s an award opportunity for them, and for you.
Give Talks to Local Groups
Service clubs like Rotary, Kiwanis, and Optimists all enjoy hearing from experts. Ask your local chapter if you could come give a talk about an aspect of your business that you’re an expert at and that the general public needs to hear more about.
Members of these clubs often have a large social circle and giving a stellar talk at one of their meetings will keep you front of mind the next time one of their acquaintances needs your service.
For instance, if you own a landscaping company, you could offer to give a talk about the importance of planting natives. If you manage an art gallery you could give a talk about the local arts scene. An antiques dealer could bring a slide presentation on some of the more remarkable pieces they’ve seen through the years.
The idea is to provide a useful or interesting talk for the group and let them leave with a warm feeling about you and your business.
Team up with Other Business Owners
We’re all in this together, so why not cooperate? Partnering with a complementary local business to offer a shared promotion can provide you both with bonus customers.
Try to partner with a business that isn’t your direct competitor. Even better if you serve the same customers. For instance, a partnership between a kids clothing store and a nearby ice cream parlor could do wonders for each business.
Donate to Local Nonprofit Fundraisers
Donating to local nonprofits helps make your community a better place and also provides an opportunity to get your business’s name out there and connected with a group doing good.
Many nonprofits need business sponsorships to fund their programs. By sponsoring a program you not only engender goodwill with the program participants, you also create a talking point about the good your business does in the local community.
You can help your community’s youth sports program by sponsoring a little league baseball or soccer team. You could help sponsor an event for an animal rescue organization. The best type of sponsorship are synergistic with the nonprofit’s mission having some overlap with your business’s products or services.
Getting Serious About Marketing Ideas for Small Business
As you think about and try these small business marketing ideas, keep in mind what your ultimate goals are. Are you trying to raise awareness of your business? Are you trying to get more customers immediately? How will you track the success of your marketing?