What’s the best way to complete shoestring marketing

Top tips for marketing your small business on a budget

My home and mobile-based beauty business has been struggling recently and I want to do some more advertising but don’t have the budget. My main target customers are local homeowners – what are the best ways I can cost-effectively increase awareness of my business?

Jeremy Green writes:

There are many cost-effective ways in which you could promote your venture, but before you embark on any marketing to raise awareness and generate new business, it is important to have a clear understanding of what your potential clients want and are willing to pay for. If you haven’t already done so, market research will help you make the best decisions on what services to offer and how to price and promote them.

Once you know what your potential clients want, there are some simple steps you can make to raise awareness of your business. Since consumers are increasingly using the web to find local services, optimising your website positioning on Google and other search engines may help to generate enquiries. With a little research and some work you can often improve the search engine performance of the website yourself. Also, social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter provide free opportunities to build relationships with existing and new clients. 

You could consider promotional offers to capture the attention of new clients, such as discount vouchers and treatment packages. Offering incentives to existing clients if they refer their friends can also be used to stimulate new business. If you haven’t already done so, I would recommend you build a computer-based client database which you can use to regularly communicate with clients about services and offers through email, text and telephone.

Other affordable marketing activities like exhibiting at local events, such as school fairs and community events, and leafleting selected residential areas should also help to raise profile and generate enquiries. These tactics are increasingly effective if they are linked to periods of potentially high demand such as Christmas and the summer holiday period.

However, it is worth asking yourself one question before you embark on marketing for new clients: “Am I making the most of my existing client base?” It is invariably easier to sell to existing clients than get new ones, so make sure you are communicating regularly and keeping them informed of your services and special offers. After all, ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush!’

Finally, don’t forget to monitor the success of your various marketing activities. No matter how cheap it is, if it doesn’t bring in new business it’s probably not worth your time and effort.

Jeremy Green, is an advisor Business Link in London


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