Monday, February 29, 2016

Small Business Marketing Ideas

Starting your own business, especially for first timers, is beyond complicated.  You now have to learn about taxes, human resources, time management, advertising strategies, legalities of marketing, how to grow your business while still actually doing whatever it is you are doing.  Even coaches, who don't have to worry about inventory, are going to have a lot to learn in a short period of time.

The other major impact you will see is your ability to market.  You probably jumped into starting your own business after being a part of a similar one.  It looked pretty easy, and you felt that you could make the same as whomever was managing the business.  That is quite possibly true.  However, getting your name out there, especially with a limited budget, can be difficult.  I can't tell you the number of times I've been contacted by a small business to find out that they don't have a budget, absolutely $0, allotted to marketing.

Now, growing a business without a marketing budget is extremely difficult.  It can be done, but you will have a lot harder time then if you had one.  How much of a budget do you need?  That depends on how much you can DIY.  Can you create your own ads, without copyright infringement?  Can you write your own copy?  Can you create your own website?  Do you know how to do Google Adwords, Facebook Ads and SEO?  If you said yes to all of these you can do it with a very small budget, $500 or less per month.  If you said no to any of these, then you need a budget that can go up to $1000+ per month.

If you still want to DIY it here are a few things you can do to can your business going quickly on a small budget.

1. Create Your Own Website

If you have no web design experience I would suggest using Weebly or Squarespace.  They have enough tools to let you build your own website quickly.  The themes/templates are pretty generic, but it is an easy barrier to get online.

If you have web design experience I would suggest Wordpress.  Wordpress is a lot more tools and flexibility, allowing you to further optimize your website (SEO) then the other two.

2. Start Posting on Social Media

With social media you are better off using just one or two social channels to get going.  Be really good at one rather than mediocre or bad at three.  Also, do your research before you get going.  Join some online groups, talk to people, get a mentor and really get down to what's going to work.  You need to engage with your prime audience.  If you are an online business you can look at similar pages to see what works and what doesn't.  If you are a local business you need to focus on the local people that are going to engage with you.  Engagement is key with posting.

3. Start Doing Facebook Ads

Facebook ads can be ridiculously great.  You can target the specific audience you are going after, and engage them.  You can choose people by marital status, relationship status, sexual orientation, interests, if they have kids, how much they make, how much they are worth, job titles and more.  You can narrow it down to the perfect audience.

More importantly is your ability to be agile.  You can change your ads as you need, and continue to improve with real data.  Radio, TV and Print don't allow this flexibility.  You can change your ad at midnight, and see the results by noon the next day.  It's an exceptional advertising medium.

4. Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex marketing medium.  There are little intricacies that will set you apart from the experts.  However, that doesn't mean that the basics aren't going to impact your business.  By reading up on what the basics are you can get your website pointed in the right direction, and really start taking advantage of Google and Bing.  SEO is essential for all business practices.

Also, don't get discouraged if you don't see immediate results.  SEO takes time.

5. Networking

Networking is the ultimate marketing medium.  When I started my business I relied solely on SEO, and I grew slowly.  Small towns don't frequently have a lot of people searching for Search Engine Optimization.  However, 6 months into networking things started taking off.  Join the chamber, go to any networking event you can and simply reach out to compatible businesses to have lunch.  Get to know them, and start referring people to them.  Earn their business by providing them business.  It's how you build loyal networks.

6. Work With Non-Profits

You can either offer your services to them, if they are in the market, or simply volunteer.  Non-profits have loads of passionate people, and many appreciate the effort that you put it.  Join an organization that is compatible with your beliefs so that you get as much out of it as you are putting into it.

7. Get a Mentor

Having someone who's been in your shoes before can be huge.  They can help you with marketing, business management and balancing your work life.  They are essential to having a healthy business.  Even Tesla, who was renowned for being eccentric, had his mentors.

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