You can have the best business in the world, but it’s not going to stand for much if no one knows about it.
The above statement is an unfortunate fact of life, and something all business owners need to keep in mind. The old saying might be that if you build it they will come, but how can they come if they don’t know where they are going?
If you are confident in your service or business, then it’s natural to think the growth will happen in an organic and natural way. Unfortunately, this can also leave you standing around waiting for customers to flock to you.
It might happen naturally, without any form of promotion. Some businesses do succeed on word of mouth alone. But it’s important to remember when planning your strategy, that these are the exceptions to the rule. Most businesses need a solid investment in their marketing, raising their brand awareness. Visibility to customers is one of the most crucial things you can focus on for a new business, or an existing business needing a boost.
Over the years, marketing has tended to mean simple things like leaflets. You design something that looks good and pay someone to drop them into local areas. Other more traditional forms of investment work on the same lines: an upfront cost that will hopefully result in higher sales. Other stalwarts of this approach include TV and billboard advertising, though these might be out of the reach of your budget.
The above ideas still work; they still get eyes on the business, and things can flow from there. However, we now live in a business-savvy world, and to stand out you have to become distinct. The old methods aren’t going to cut it anymore, so it’s time to start thinking of alternatives.
Below, we’re going to make the assumption that you already know that a website is essential for a business to make it these days. If you don’t have one, then that automatically goes right to the top of your list. Some customers will just outright not trust any brand that doesn’t have a web presence, so make sure that you don’t fall between the cracks. With that done, you can then consider…
- Social Media
You’ve probably heard it before, but social media is a vital tool for your business. You can promote your pages themselves, but there are other options to create a community around your product too. Create a blog on your main website full of useful content- don’t make it too promotional, let that side come naturally.
Promote the posts on social media and invite comment and debate. For example, if you own a restaurant, write a blog post about bad experiences in restaurants and ask customers for their horror stories. Create the type of content people want to read, and you receive the promotion through people clicking through.
- Social Advertising
Where it was once newspapers and leaflets, now one of the most organic forms of advertising is to let the general populace do it for you. Invest in a useful item that most people will use, such as pens, stationery or something from a Bags range. Many online services let you brand such items for a low cost- and then you distribute them in giveaways.
Branded totes are a great idea, especially if you give them out around shopping centres. The idea is that people then use these items, not only raising their awareness but that of anyone who sees them. It will generally be a smaller upfront front cost than more traditional methods, too.
There are a thousand and one categories for awards nowadays. You can easily find a small scale awards ceremony in your industry, and invest your money in sponsoring it. A new wave of awards includes blogging awards, designed for the pro-bloggers who are the new media of the 21st century. You’ll get namechecked when the bloggers write about their nominations and award wins, which is great in itself, and could lead to more.
It could bring stronger links with the new media community, which is vital for any thriving business in the modern world. This is particularly important if you are targeting the younger generation, who will trust a blogger opinion way above old media.
- Pay-Per-Click Advertising
While you should put some focus on SEO and getting your company as high up in search engines, it can be a long and expensive process. It’s going to be particularly difficult to do if there is a similar type of company with a much bigger outreach and a long establishment. One way you can jump the queue is to pay for advertising at the top of ranking results.
You only pay when someone clicks on your ad, hence the name “pay per click“, and you can set a daily or weekly budget. The most famous service is Google Adwords, and scour online to find a coupon. They’re easy enough to find available and can give you $50 or $75 free while you see if it’s worth it for your business.
- Take Advantage of What You Already Have
If you use a vehicle for business purposes, then it goes without saying that it should be branded. While it’s not too likely someone will contact you directly off that one ad, it does get your name into more people’s minds. That can mean the next time they need a service like yours, you’re higher on their list of places to check out. Of course, one way to double that exposure is to brand your personal vehicle as well. We’re not talking huge slogans, but a simple small advert on the back of your car including the website address and phone number.
All of the above might seem a little bit shameless, but you’re going to have to become accustomed to it. No one is going to shout about how great your business is in the early stages except for you, so don’t hold back!