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Published on Thursday, March 21, 2019

8 Killer Marketing Ideas for Small Business That Won’t Break the Bank

With today’s technology, you can do amazing things with marketing, many of which are inexpensive or completely free. And with automation technology, you can actually have some aspects of your marketing running automatically in the background, constantly working to elevate your brand and get more customers in your door (or on your website).

We’ve compiled this list of the best small business marketing ideas to help you grab some more leads quickly — and without having to run your bank account dry.

Tell a story with a case study.

There’s no denying it: humans are suckers for good stories. Create a case study to highlight one of your customer’s successes, but give it a narrative flow to hook your audience and keep them reading.

The difference between a thriving small business owner and a struggling one is often the results (or lack of results) you provide your customers. If your product or service really works, don’t just tell people about it. Show them!

Blog about topics your customers care about.

You’ve probably heard about the value of content marketing, but what does “content is king” really mean for your small business? The key to creating blog content that converts is to focus on your customers’ interests, not yours. Too many SMBs fall into the trap of writing blog posts about their events, products, and services — to completely ignore the topics that their clients would care about.

More often than not, these are the topics you’re already an expert in, so blog about them! For example, a plant nursery might offer “how to” posts on caring for specific plant types, while a birthing center might write about pregnancy health and offer advice on pain management during labor. Find out what your customers are buzzing about, and bring them the info they want.

Create pre-recorded web trainings.

If your identity plays a major role in your business (think real estate agents, lawyers, chiropractors, or even community-minded restaurateurs) give yourself additional reach by creating pre-recorded videos.

And while you could post these videos for free to generate likes and shares on social media, why not develop them into a full-blown web series, and offer them to leads in exchange for their contact info? Just like with your blog, your videos should be focused on serving your audience by answering their most pressing questions, or by being so entertaining or inspiring they can’t help but share them with their friends.

Offer a free consultation or strategy session.

If your business has a consultative aspect to it (think lawyers, psychologists, and alternative health practitioners) devise a way to provide a miniature version of your service for free as part of your sales process. The goal in this free session is to build your KLT factor (know, like, and trust), which are the three components you’ll need to have in place before a cold lead will warm up to you. Focus on being positive, connect, and show the prospect that there’s a solution to their problem and you’re the one to get them there.

Be careful not to give away too much of your time or energy, but do focus on providing as much value as you can in your initial meeting. Use tech to your advantage. A short meeting over the phone or by video call, paired with an informational booklet, brochure, or PDF, can be incredibly memorable and just as helpful as an in-person consultation.

Add a call-to-action to everything.

Here’s a very simple marketing tactic that may only take a few minutes to perform. Sometimes, SMBs have plenty of marketing materials in play — but prospects simply don’t know what you want them to do next. Your call to action is the final “push” that encourages your prospects to take the next step. It could be:

  • Call this phone number
  • Fill out this form
  • Enter your email address

...But it should never more than one of these, and it should be the easiest task to perform in that particular moment.

How do you choose a call to action? It depends on the mental state of your lead. Someone who just arrived at your blog for the first time and read a post probably isn’t going to pick up the phone and call you. But they might read another blog post, or download a free PDF report on the same topic.

Use the power of word of mouth.

Plenty of small businesses survive on word-of-mouth advertising for years without having to invest in fancy marketing strategies or ad campaigns. If you’ve noticed a dip in business, one of the quickest ways to see a new surge is to create a customer referral program. After all, your existing customers are your best salespeople — they’re the ones who use your product or service on a regular basis.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate. For example, you might provide your current customers with a 20% discount for every new customer they refer, or a free service in exchange for a review on a popular review site. Try combining the notion of a referral program with an online contest, too. Create a social post about an upcoming giveaway, and offer your followers additional entries in the contest for each platform on which they share your post.

Use your social networks wisely.

One survey found that a whopping 96% of SMBs use social media in their marketing strategy. It’s no wonder, considering that these platforms are free to use and provide access to millions of potential customers anywhere in the world.

To get some marketing traction with social media, use it the way it’s intended — as a social platform. Be human. Start conversations with your friends and followers, respond to their comments, and post a mix of created and curated content. Before you post, think: is this something I’d find interesting? Here are a few ideas for organic social posts that can bring in more business:

  • Highlight a product or service
  • Share a meme or interesting video that’s related to your industry
  • Do a “behind the scenes” post
  • Ask a question or start a conversation
  • Go live or host a live event
  • Use Facebook and Instagram stories to stand out

Host an event.

It doesn’t have to be a full-on extravaganza — even a small event can get new faces in the door and expose your brand to potential customers. The type of event you choose will depend on your business and the customer base you want to attract, but here are a few ideas:

  • Book reading/signing
  • Music group
  • Hands-on tutorial
  • Silent auction
  • Educational event or class
  • Competition or game night

And don’t forget to capture your attendees’ information. At minimum, grab their name and email address to add them to your email list for remarketing in the future.

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