Whether you’re a startup just starting out or a well-established business, marketing is a fact of life. Without it, potential customers don’t know you exist.
While you could spend thousands – or millions – on advertising, SEO, SEM, and creating content, most startup entrepreneurs and small business owners have limited marketing budgets.
So here are seven things you can start doing today to market your business:
- Word of Mouth. It all starts with a good product or service. If you don’t have that you may as well quit now and go back to a 9-5 job. Your #1 job in the startup phase is to work on your product, service and process to make sure you have something worth talking about – in a positive way. If you knock it out of the park with your offering people will want to talk about you. Doing something unique with your service, add something special to your product or create an experience like no other to really get people talking!
- Public Relations. Make friends with the media. Find the bloggers and reporters who write about what you do and reach out in a helpful way. Comment on their blogs and articles and offer your services as a resource in your area of expertise. Shooting off press releases rarely works, so treat relationships with media like you would your best prospect; take the time to nurture the relationships.
- Master your elevator pitch. Your elevator pitch needs to state the problem you solve or need you fulfill and the benefits you deliver; clearly and succinctly. If I t doesn’t naturally roll off your tongue it won’t be convincing. Craft it carefully, practice it and use it all the time – not just at your business networking events. Use it at the grocery story, the block party, the gym and the bank, you just never know who your contacts know.
- Speaking is a great way to get noticed and reach new audiences. Create an hour long talk that you can pull pieces from for shorter talks and speak anywhere you have the chance in the first year: your local Chamber of Commerce; Rotary Clubs; Kiwanis; professional groups and organizations. And speak for free (at first). However – this is not a stage for you to sell your services! This is a way for you to share your expertise and give the audience free knowledge. The goal is for them to use this knowledge to decide they need you to help them.
- Host seminars and workshops. Host your own seminars and workshops and invite everyone you know. Post them to the free community calendars and use a service like Eventbrite to sell tickets.
- Ask for referrals. Download all your contacts from your email, phone and social media. Pull out that drawer of business cards you’ve been collecting, start calling (or emailing) and let your network know what you’re up to and ask for referrals, either to potential clients or to possible strategic partners.
- Build your presence on and offline. If you’re a startup business take advantage of this time when you have no, or few clients and build your presence. Go to every networking group you can find, attend workshops and seminars where your target market or potential strategic partners hang out and take the time to build your presence online. Take advantage of every social media and search site you can find and build your company profile with links to your site. Even if you aren’t going to be active on the site, it’s good to claim your free real estate (it helps SEO). Examples: Bing, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Mantra, Klout, Pinterest, Instagram, StumbleUpon, Tumbler – and there are literally hundreds more.
Remember, Marketing is a process, not an event. It isn’t something you can do once and ignore. It takes commitment and focus. This list is a good place to start building your small business marketing strategy. If you need help, a Marketing Consultant like Fortune Marketing may be a good investment. We’d be happy to talk to you about your goals a see if it’s a fit. Contact us.