Small businesses are probably the most thriving sector of our economy today, however there are a host of issues that they struggle with to keep their businesses up and running over the years. Going by the current state of our economy, the most prevalent issue would be the crippling costs from day to day management, no thanks to the recession. However, there’s also the big mighty challenge of marketing; the need to get and retain customers with an obvious growth margin on income.
Knowing this – and also the fact that that it’s important to keep spend on the low – here are 5 no-budget (well, almost no-budget) marketing tips to help with that challenge:
Start a customer referral program
Two key phrases for this would be; “your best ambassadors are your customers” and “word of mouth is the best form of advertising”. To get this up, offer existing customers something for every new customer they refer. In essence, you get your customers telling their friends about your business for a discount, a free product on their next purchase or anything else you can think up. The key thing here is they would be using their influence to get people walk into your store or click on your site, and that is extremely valuable.
And if you’re paying N5,000 for every customer that comes to buy from you through ads, think about what results you might get if you said you’d give each customer N4,000 for everyone they refer. Our thought is that you’d get a lot of people, and at a lower cost.
Think up industry partnerships that work
Industry partnerships aren’t as common or milked well enough in this market, and they have such awesome potentials to turn businesses around. Partner with businesses related to yours for a joint project. The key benefit of every industry partnership is it gives both businesses access to new customers, as they get to feed off each other’s clout.
Do you remember when Uber partnered with Nuli juice to deliver their products after they got demolished? Here’s a screenshot of how many people searched for Nuli juice over the last 12 months. Guess when that huge spike occurred? Same week they announced the arrangement with Uber.
Be a savvy social networker
Don’t only have social media channels set up, use them to meet people, engage with them, convert them to be customers. Do social listening every day to see what people are saying around your business. A good channel for this would be Twitter, as amidst the endless chatter are signals of intent.
For example; If you had a food business, and towards lunch time, you did a quick search on Twitter for the key word “hungry”. There’s a huge chance you would find at least one person who says “I am hungry”, that’s a good person to start a conversation with and try to convert into a loyalist.
A lot of Nigerian food brands do this very well as they use their Instagram account to get orders from their corporate audiences every weekday. I’m sure you can think of a few off the top of your head
It’s important to always set up a means to continue the conversation with every customer that patronises you and email marketing is the most recommended. It allows you get new visitors and engage with old ones. Set up a means of generating your subscribers list and then nurture them till they become loyalists for your business.
And this might not always be online. The last time we spoke at an event, we sent an email to everyone who attended only once, asking them to subscribe if they liked our content. About 30% of them did. We deleted the rest from our database.
Publish great content
The importance of content marketing cannot be over emphasised. Consistently create and share content that your customers and potential customers can be interested in and look forward to. This can range from how-to articles, to lists, videos, infographics etc. The way this works is when people consistently get kick ass content from you, you become an authority in that industry in their minds, and when it is time to make a purchase decision, your business would be the first they think about.
Think about the blog you’re reading right now, how do you think they got here? Why did you come to BellaNaija today? Because you expect to get the best content out there, get your customers to see you the same way.
Marketing for business growth is not a one time or periodic approach, it is a daily constant effort to stay top of mind and relevant.
Do you have a small business and have used other no-budget marketing ideas for growth? Share with us.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Mauricio Jordan De Souza Coelho