As the recession continues into the summer, businesses struggle to stay afloat, particularly newer, smaller businesses. It is times like these that the SBA advises business owners to maintain or step up their marketing...not to cut back. Here are some low cost ways for businesses to reach out to their customers without breaking the bank:
1. Issue a press release. Have news about your business - maybe a business anniversary, a key hire, new product or service? If so, shout it out to relevant media as well as online. Even if your story doesn't get picked up, the online exposure will boost your search engine ranking.
2. Start a blog. If you haven't jumped on the online bandwagon, you are behind schedule. It isn't too late to get started though. Create a free blog using Blogger or WordPress to tell people about your business, offer advice, advertise product and service specials, etc.
3. Embrace social media. If you are not already on Facebook, start a personal account and a business or organization page now. You can tie it directly to your blog, so when you post new info. to the blog, it automatically updates your Facebook page. Are you tweeting? If not, you need to be. Twitter is growing faster than anyone predicted. Get a free account today, find followers, post tweets, etc.
4. Host an event. If you have a brick-and-mortar location (retail store, office, etc.), get customers in the door with a special sale, promotion, anniversary, open house or fundraiser for a popular charity. Anything that brings people in the door is worth the effort, so make sure you publicize the event to current and potential customers to get the biggest bang for your marketing buck.
5. Email marketing. This is one of the easiest, most affordable ways to stay in front of current customers. Starting with a contact list of your present customers, create an email database and start a regular email newsletter or promotional campaign using a service like Constant Contact or Your Mailing List Provider (my favorite). I recommend emails once a month to stay in touch with your customers without being intrusive.
By adding one or more of these items to an existing marketing plan, small businesses can increase their marketing presence during these challenging economic times without a lot of cash. To your success!
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