Small businesses can often struggle to get themselves known out in the big wide world. They may start as a home based business, with no staff, and not much money to advertise, finding it hard to compete against the big businesses and household brands.
"Every small business has to start somewhere"
Everyone has to start somewhere. Look at McDonalds for example, a household name recognised in every country throughout the world. Even this company started somewhere too. Just a couple of brothers making great burgers, but with the help of a friend and business partner this business grew throughout the 60's and 70's and now there are over 34,000 franchises worldwide!
Of course not all small businesses have dreams of global domination, and I'm sure the McDonald brothers didn't imagine that their small burger business would be a successful as it is today with over 1,800,000 employees and net income of US$5.46 billion.
Perhaps you just want to take your small business to the next level. Maybe you have a great product that is selling well, but you have dreams of expanding to sell your product throughout Australia both within shop fronts and online.
It can all be very daunting, but if you have a the desire and the determination, along with a great business plan and marketing strategy, what's stopping you?
For most small businesses the only thing stopping them is money. But what if I could give you some ideas that won't cost you a cent, just some common sense and a little bit of time? Sounds too good to be true doesn't it?!
"...if you have the desire and the determination, along with a great business plan and marketing strategy, what's stopping you?"
The great thing about marketing in the 21st century is the technology that is available to us. The power of social media, the ease of creating your own website for free or low cost is something that small businesses need to harness and use to their advantage.
Now here is a secret that I will share with you. There are lots of online bloggers out there who blog about a variety of things from exercise, to hair products, to pets, to God knows what. By identifying bloggers who have a strong following and are influential, you may be able to tap into them and get them blogging about your product, and from there, who knows what could happen.
You can also create your own blog (like I have), and share your blog via your business networks and social media sites.
Social media is another great way to engage an audience in real time and create interesting content for your followers. By creating interactive online competitions which encourage followers to share or retweet you can easily increase followers and interest in your product which will soon convert into sales.
Although it takes time, it is low or no cost to do this, and if done well can be the best form of advertising or promotion for your business. Word of mouth (or WOM as marketers call it), is one of the best forms of promotion, and can make or break a product. Positive WOM is invaluable and can be worth more than any expensive advertising campaign.
"Positive Word of Mouth is invaluable and can be worth more than any expensive advertising campaign"
Having your own website is a must for any small business. Social media is great, but if I want to know more about a business or a product I will always look on the website.
Websites are fairly easy to create, I've used Weebly, which is free and extremely easy to use. The trick to your website is creating content that is interesting and valuable to your customers. Make it simple to navigate, easy to search, use easy language, large font, headings, dot points, links. I like to use the KISS theory with websites - Keep It Short and Simple! People don't like to trudge through heaps of information, they want to find what they are looking for easily, as we are all time poor.
Something else to be mindful of when creating your website is making sure it has responsive design, meaning that if it is being viewed on a iPad or iPhone it will look different to how it does on a PC, making it easy to use for people on portable devices.
If you're selling products online, I would recommend making this easy too. Make sure that products, quantities, colours, sizes, flavours etc, are easy to select and that checking out is secure and easy too. Give an expected date for product delivery, you don't want customers becoming upset because they expected delivery within five days and it took 15! Manage customer expectations, its far better to under promise and over deliver.
So there you have it, just a few simple tips to help small businesses to get out there and known for not much more than a bit of time and effort.
If you would like to know more or discuss marketing techniques for small business with me further, feel free to contact me via the contact form on this website, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0407 642 995.
Until next time - happy marketing and remember two golden rules:
1. WOM - The power of Word of Mouth is invaluable
2. KISS - Keep It Short and Simple
Take care, Nicola
Director - Out of the Box Consulting