As a small scale business, marketing is a key tool. A unique marketing strategy will enable you to establish your brand in the minds of your customers. Your marketing efforts also help you in acquiring new customers.
But as a small scale business, you don’t have the deep pocket required to run big marketing campaigns on television, radio or newspapers. Here are 5 inexpensive but effective ways to market your small scale business:
1. Leverage on Word-of-Mouth
Word-of-mouth remains one of the most trusted methods in the world today. When a customer is happy and satisfied with a product or service, there’s a natural human tendency that they are likely to share this experience with people in their circle of trust and influence – family, friends, colleagues, neighbors and sometimes, strangers.
Satisfied customers become foot soldiers, evangelists and advocates for your business. It is amazing how many of your satisfied customers will go to great lengths to promote, convince, protect and defend your business outside.
So, how exactly can your small business grow an army of passionate customers who will use word-of-mouth advertising to your advantage?
(a) Sell a product or service that really works and provides great value to anybody who uses them.
If a product or service delivers on its promise and does more than what it says, it’s a winner!
Most people buy products or services to solve a problem or satisfy a need. Nothing will make a customer happier and more satisfied than getting a product that makes a very challenging problem go away. They’ll scream your name from the mountain tops!
(b) Offer great customer experience.
People like to buy products and services from businesses that treat them with respect. People love to be given attention and treated well and will always return to enjoy that beautiful experience again.
Don’t forget, customers spend their hard-earned money on your products. Don’t you think they deserve a big “Thank you’ with a wide smile on your face? People hardly forget a great customer experience and will happily tell other people about it.
(c) Give your customers a reason to advertise and market your business.
Sometimes, word-of-mouth advertising doesn’t come automatically; you have to encourage, motivate or incentivize your customers to do it for you.
Start a referral or reward program for your existing customers. The more people they refer to you, the more free products, services and discounts they will enjoy. The reward should be large enough to trigger their interest and make them take action. It’s a win-win method that always works.
2. Offer Free Stuff
Everybody loves free stuff.
Giving away some of your products and services for free does three very positive and interesting things for your small business:
- It lets people out there know that you exist.
- It gives you a chance to prove the value of your product or service and show that it really works.
- It provides your future customers with a risk-free way to try out your products or service without spending any money. And if customers find value in your products or services, they will be willing to pay money for it.
Let’s say Ben wants to start a barbershop in Malindi and he’s looking for a simple, cheap and effective way to advertise and kickstart his new small business.
He decides to put up a sign in front of his barbershop that reads: ‘Free Haircuts. First 20 People Only’. This reads like a sign that will definitely catch a lot of attention, right?
That is the power of free!
Anybody who walks into his shop for a free haircut and loves the service will happily return next time to pay for it and will likely tell his friends, colleagues and neighbors about the ‘cool’ new barbershop down the road.
Customers love ‘free’ because they have nothing to lose; they just sit back, relax and enjoy the service or product without any risk. By drawing them into your business, you give them a chance to see and experience something that would have been totally hidden from them if you didn’t open your door.
However, you must make sure that the free stuff WILL NOT last forever. From the outset, determine the number of people who will enjoy the free stuff or how many days the promo will last. Not everybody should get free stuff; it’s the scarcity element that makes it very appealing.
3. Offer Discounts and Deals
Just like free stuff, discounts and deals work well too. They are another creative and low cost way to attract more customers to your business.
People often see discounts and deals as a huge opportunity to save money and enjoy a product or service for a whole lot less.
In fact, discounts and deals usually influence customers to buy more products or services than they initially planned. They love to ‘take the opportunity’ because the same products may not be so cheap tomorrow.
4. Leverage the power of Social media
Social media is changing the way business is done in today’s world.
Popular social media networks like Facebook are some of the top places where your potential customers hang out and it makes perfect sense that you register your small business on Facebook too.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter make it very easy for people (both customers and non-customers) to talk about your business. They can share or tweet about your products and services and this allows you to easily engage with them.
5. Create a Website
Yes, you’re right. Small businesses need websites too, even if it has just a single page.
As a result of the huge influence of the internet, our world is now more connected than ever before. Nowadays, most people simply use the internet when they want to find a product or service.
With the spread of mobile phones, it is easier and more effective to “Google” for information rather than asking someone.
Let’s say you run a small laundry and dry cleaning business in Malindi. Will your business come up among the search results when a desperate customer searches Google for “Laundry Businesses in Malindi” ?
A website is like your own billboard or newspaper advert. Get your small business represented on the internet.