Marketing your Business without Breaking the Bank

Are you in the final stages of planning your Super Bowl commercial for this year?  Then this article is not for you.  Most of us don’t have a multi-million dollar marketing budget.  So how do you get the word out about your business?  Go Guerilla!

Guerilla marketing is a term coined years ago to describe creative marketing ideas that are either low or no cost.  This is one area where the old adage “you get what you pay for” simply does not apply.   The payment you will make for most of these ideas is time, specifically your time.  Of course, if you wanted to work a 9-5, Monday through Friday schedule, you wouldn’t have started a business.  We will assume you started because you are passionate about what you do.  That passion can be turned into your greatest asset.

Now there are entire books written on this subject and by those who have much greater knowledge, but let me give you a few areas to perhaps get your campaign started.  The first way to market your business should always be community involvement.  Actively participating in the local Chamber of Commerce and other community groups will allow you to make personal contact with your potential customers.  Always have a good stock of business cards with you and trade them with the people you meet.  Make sure you save the cards you receive.  This can be the start of your ‘leads’ list.  This will allow you to form good mailing and emailing lists.

The next part of this type of personal marketing is to join networking groups.  Organizations such as AmSpirit, Synergy, Big Fish, and others, can provide you with solid business to business contacts and referrals.  The way AmSpirit works is to gather a group of business owners together.  The groups contain representatives from a good mix of business services.  There may be an accountant, a lawyer, a realtor, and insurance agent, an IT person, a financial planner, a marketing person, etc.  These groups meet once a week to discuss and exchange ideas on a variety of business issues.  They also exchange referrals.  The accountant may have a client who is in need of IT services so he would refer the client to the IT person.  The IT person may have a client who is complaining about their insurance costs.  That client is referred to the insurance agent.  These referrals are considered qualified leads.

Another type of Guerilla marketing is called viral marketing.  This encompasses the use of social media.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the rest can be effective tools to get your potential customers’ attention.  Make sure you are not just posting advertising content.  There is a reason we all fast forward through the commercials when watching content on the DVR.  Constant bombardment with sales messages becomes background noise quickly.  Try to offer your potential clients content of value.  Information and expert advice will keep them actually reading what you post.

A third type of marketing involves getting creative. Cross promotion can be very effective.  For example; say you run a home health company, specializing in keeping the elderly in their homes.  Make contact with a local doctor’s office.  Offer to exchange referrals for the ability to place information about your business in their waiting room.  Make sure you take some time to explain your business to the doctor’s staff, maybe over lunch one day.  Or, you run a pet store.  You might run a giveaway at a local theater.  Offer to give away a full aquarium setup to promote the new Aquaman movie (it’s only a matter of time).  Get movie posters to place in your store and have the theater gather the entries.  Make sure your entry form has name, address and email.  You get some advertising and grow your mailing lists at the same time.

These are just a few ideas you can do with little or no money.  You might also invite ideas from your staff.  You are already paying for their brainpower, take advantage of it.  They just might surprise you.

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