Monday, 10 November 2014

How to gain business exposure on a small budget

When you first start out in business your budget might be small for marketing (or non-existent) so gaining that traction you know you deserve can be tough. Here are a few ideas I recommend to get you started, they’re easy to put together and won’t cost you a fortune.

Referral systems

Little coupons or referral cards are great to hand out to customers. Once you have sold a few products or services offer your customers an incentive for spreading the word. Think about what u can spare, can you discount your product or service easily? Perhaps offer 50% off your next order if they sign a friend up to spend with you. Offer 75% if 2 friends spend and offer something free for more. Depending on what your product is decide what you can give out and what the value of a new customer would be. The higher your offer the more likely people will talk about you (so don’t even think about offering 5% - that’s laughable). You may feel like you are being taken advantage of by some people getting your services for free but try and see the bigger picture. Yes you may lose some profit at first, give things away at cost or even less, but you are setting yourself up for higher exposure when you provide more value than the customer expected. Always let the customer feel like they got the better deal. It is the oldest trick in the sales book, always over deliver.

HTML Emails

If you have been diligent and collected previous customer email addresses well done – you’re sitting on something good! Newsletter/brochure pdf pages are good for handing out in print format, but as a mail out I wouldn’t recommend. People receive way too much spam every day, and if your email requires more effort than just opening the email you can guarantee they aren’t going to open your newsletter if they haven’t requested the information.
Instead plant information in the body of the email using HTML (if you don't have a way of doing this yourself MailChimp is free and has bucketloads of great templates!). You only need an interesting subject for people to open it and the information is ready available in their face. As for subjects; stay away from spammy headings like “special offer” and “huge discount”, and instead offer people something specific e.g “40% off your next cut and blow wave at My Awesome Hair Salon”. Don’t forget to let them know who you are and how you got their email address so they don’t end up blocking you.

Social Media

Set up that Facebook page with an awesome profile and cover graphic. Mix up posts with information, offers and deals, funny/interesting industry related posts and personal stuff. People love to see who is behind a company, your business needs a ‘voice’ so people can connect - selling is becoming less B2B and B2C but H2H – human to human.

Social Media is a great free way to get people sharing and talking about your product/services but be ready for negative feedback; it does make it easy for people to share bad experiences they might have had with you. Do not delete them, do not be angry, it’s all part of business - instead find a constructive way to resolve the issue. Everyone has negative feedback at some stage it is how you handle it that shows what kind of company you are to others who see it. Respond to everything – good and bad!

Tell your friends and family and get networking!

Share, share, share. Let everyone know who you are and what you are offering. You’ll find a lot of people are willing to help out. BNZ hold free networking events on the first Tuesday of every month, so get along to those and start talking. Everyone is there for the same reason - don’t be shy about telling people what you do. Chamber of Commerce and BNI are also networking companies, but you do have to pay to be involved with them.

Give products or services away for free

If you can afford it, sponsor an event. Offer up products or services to a charity auction. Some places will print your logo for free or give you a plug at the event, and this can be worthwhile to pick up new customers. You might be wary about giving away free stuff, but if you truly do believe you have a great product people need to see it and it’s better you take the risk than them.

If you’re not big on picking up the phone and cold calling (I cringe even just thinking about it) then try some of these safer tactics to gain traction amongst your market. It’s not all about giving away stuff for free but it’s about letting people experience what you have to offer without them feeling like they are taking the risk on you, if they love it you will have found yourself a customer for life who will gladly tell all of their friends.

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