The word ‘advertising’ sounds like a big task in the business community. Ever wondered how businesses make money? It is simple; they sell products or services to people at a profit. Every business has a selling point. It takes a lot from you as a businessperson to attract customers to your business. No matter how great you business idea is, you won’t make money from it if people are not patronizing you.
Although, most small businesses experience hard times, not because customers do not want to patronize them, but because customers cannot ascertain the existence of their products/services in the first place. For almost every start-up (small businesses), advertising is a big problem.
However, there are strategies to adopt to help you attract customers and boost your sales. This guide will help you identify them.
To begin, let us identify the setbacks; the reason why advertising is a big problem.
Why advertising is a problem for small businesses
As earlier said, small businesses find it hard to maintain a strong customer base. Sometimes, it is due to cost. Many of the famous advertising methods we know (radio, TV, newspapers, magazines) are seldom ever affordable for small businesses. Rather big companies leverage on this, and still occupy billboards, giving small businesses little or no chance to shine.
However, despite all these hitches, there are still small businesses that grow above the status quo, and still remain in business. All you need to do is apply various advertising strategies. Some are simple with no cost but others can be tasking. Whichever strategy you go for, just know that the growth of your business is worth it.
SIMPLE ADVERTISING STRATEGIES
Some simple advertising strategies include:
- Person-to-person advertising
- Selling for free
- Offer discounts
- Organize a contest
- Create a website
- Guest blogging
- Get listed on local directories
- Get on social media
- Print and distribute flyers
- Involve in community service
This is by far the oldest form of advertising used in businesses before the world began to advance. While it may be slower, it still works well. When you introduce your product to a potential customer, and he/she is happy with it, there is a natural human tendency that the supposed customer will help tell others about your product. It is like a chain, a circle of trust and influence – friends, family, neighbours and even strangers.
A happy and satisfied customer is one of the best advertising tools a small business can ever have. So, if you want to email in business, endeavor to seek the satisfaction of your customers before you profit. In addition, one amazing thing about a satisfied customer is that he/she will advise for your business, promote, protect, defend and convince your business without your permission. To achieve this, you must so the following:
• Sell products or services that will provide great value to anyone who uses it.
• Treat your customers with respect. Nobody will want to buy from a rude person no matter the advertising strategy you use. Be cautious, friendly, nice and still professional. Don’t be rigid because that will scare your potential customers away. When you treat them well, they will, in turn, help you advertise your product with no charge.
• Most times, person-to-person advertising doesn’t come automatically or from good sales. You may have to encourage or motivate your customers to do it for you.
• You can start a referral or rewards program for your existing customers. The more persons they refer to you, the more free products and better discounts they. Note: the reward must be propelling enough.
Selling for free
Everyone loves free stuff. That is an established fact. Giving some of your products and services for free is one way to attract customers. This advertising strategy makes people aware of the existence of your business. Also, this strategy gives you an opportunity to showcase yourself and prove the worth of your products/services. It provides your potential customers a risk-free way to try your products or services without spending. That way, you gain their trust and make them buy it next time with ease.
For example, let’s say Cynthia bakes and she wants to advertise her business in her neighborhood. She decides to put up a sign in front of her residence or business office that reads: ‘Free baking. First 10 persons will get a red velvet cake for free.’ This will definitely attract people to her business. That is the power of selling free. By having their attention, you reveal to them fascinating things about your business.
As much as customers love free stuff, you must make sure that it doesn’t last forever. Determine the number of persons who will enjoy the free package and how many days it will last.
This is another creative and low cost advertising strategy that works well. People often see discounts and deals as a huge opportunity to buy in bulk (more than they planned) at cheaper rates and still enjoy the product. One good advertising platform for nice deals is Nigeria’s DealDey. Everyday, it advertises mouthwatering deals from different small businesses in several cities across Nigeria. For a small fee, you can reach thousands of potential customers through the good discounts they offer.
Organize a contest
Organizing competitions is also one way to indulge your potential customers. It could be in form of games or a question and answer section. Even though many will not win the contest, but you would have created a business awareness for yourself. 15 out of 20 persons are most likely to check out your business description after the contest. You can seize this opportunity either during the contest or after the contest to talk about your business in details. This can be done on any social media platform or a physical gathering.
Note: do not just put up the contest to chase clout, make sure you have the said prize intact. You may not necessarily go for something extravagant, just draw up a reasonable budget and stick to it.
Create a website
Surprised? You think it is only big companies that need a website, right? Well, you need a website too even as a small business owner. With the huge influence of the internet, the world is getting more connected than before. People really use the internet these days when they want to find or purchase a product or service. Also, with the widespread of smartphones across many parts of the world, it is easier to search Google for information rather than ask the nearest person.
Owning your own site is not a luxury but a necessity. And it is not for the big companies alone. There are many free websites, you can opt in for anyone and create an online base. In the website, you will post a brief business description, your products and services, contact information; telephone or email. If you can’t afford a billboard or newspaper advertising, then get a website with little or no cost.
Furthermore, Google is the largest search engine on the internet and millions of people around the world depends on it for information. It made more than $30 billion from online advertising (as at 2012) and this figure is expected to grow in future. To show the great potentials a website has for your business. In other words, online advertising will work best for you with a website.
Also, you can have a YouTube channel because many people stay on YouTube now more that watching television. Just be versatile.
Guest blogging helps you generate high quality leads to your business or website. It also helps you with high quality inbound links that results in a higher SEO. By writing good content for a popular blog, you’re announcing your presence to that person’s audience. For example, if the blog has 15,000 readers, by sharing your content on that blog, you’re exposing your business to 15,000 potential customers. And if you selected the right partner, someone whose business is complementary to yours, you’re closer to converting all these 15,000 readers to becoming your customers. That’s a sure way to attract customers faster.
To start, reach out to blogs with high traffic and ask them if you can contribute to their blog with great content you wrote. Start small, build legitimacy, and expand from there. Although this advertising strategy requires time, but it promises great prospects on the long-run.
Get listed on local directories
All thanks to the internet, this is the simplest advertising strategy as small businesses can be listed for free on local directories. When a small business is registered on a local directory, people around the world can find it on the map and view its contact information. The best part is, you don’t have to pay anything to become registered on these directories.
Some of the most popular ones out there are Google Places, Yahoo Local and Bing Places. As you can see, all of these directories are run by the big global internet search giants. You have no reason not to be on any local directory. No cost, no stress.
Get on social media
This is unarguably one of the best advertising strategy today. The global pandemic has added to its importance. There are different social media platforms these days ranging from Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. But Facebook tops the list as the world’s largest social media platform with over 1.1billion registered users(as at September 2013), more than 15percent of the world’s population. What a huge number! It must have increased by now, no doubts. Now imagine how many of your potential customers within your country are on Facebook, not to talk of other platforms. As a small business owner, you need to leverage on the publicity social media gives in order reach a larger audience. With your smartphone and a Facebook account (or any other social media account), you can double your sales.
Print and distribute flyers
Yes, technology is taking over the business community but then, flyers still remain a simple to tell people about what you do. This advertising strategy is very suitable for small businesses that have target customers within a particular area. Areas like university campuses, residential estates, offices, etc. However, this is not cost intensive as you can even design a simple one for yourself using any design app. Some free tools you can use to design are Canva and PicMonkey. To save you stress, you can hire a graphics designer to do the design for you.
After the design is done, you can do the distribution. Make it is handy. With a mix of person-to-person, you can do great with this advertising strategy.
Involve in community service – volunteer work
This is an often overlooked advertising strategy. Volunteer work is a good opportunity to relate with your potential customers physically, and enjoy free publicity. Most times, all that is required may be your time, effort and encouragement. Also, if you plan to use this method of advertising, remember to make sure that all donations, sponsorships and support are done in the name of your business and not yours.
We have briefly discussed quite a couple of simple, cheap, interesting and creative ways to spread the word about your small business. While some methods may not work for every business, you will not lose anything by trying them out to see which ones work best for you.
Like it was said earlier on, the best marketing and advertising strategy is to combine several of these methods to increase the number of customers you can attract to your business.
More customers mean more sales. More sales mean more profits. And profits are always good news for any small business!
Have you been having difficulties with advertising and marketing your products and services whether online and physically?
Have you tried any of the methods mentioned above? No matter the result, good or bad, we would love to hear from you and share your experience. You never know, it may help somebody out there.
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