congratulations! You have accomplished something that most people never will, and you, more than most, understand the kind of commitment, resourcefulness and courage that it takes to get a small business off the ground.
Getting your business on wheels is only the beginning of your story, however.
You need to find out a way to develop your brand and get your company noticed...
and often, on a very limited marketing budget.
Find Your Target The very first order of business usually involves analyzing your target market.
You need to ask yourself...
"who am I selling to?", "who do I want to sell to?" and "why do they need what I am selling?" When you have a clear picture of your targeted group, you must then find the most efficient method of reaching them with your marketing message.
This is often a good time for a brain-storming session with your staff, associates, or, even friends and relatives.
Hit or Miss The best marketing strategy typically involves getting your marketing message seen in as many different places as possible.
A single message, coming from one direction, can often be ignored, but a message that comes from a number of sources, gets noticed.
Channels Galore There are many different ways to get your message seen, but it is up to you to manage your marketing budget to get the biggest "bang for the buck" that you can.
Here are just a few of the channels that you might want to consider to get your message seen by your target audience.
Field Sales - often, only for higher end sales or business to business situations.
This can be the most expensive marketing method, but if done properly, the most effective.
Direct Mail - can be effective if costs are managed, but the mailing list must be carefully compiled, and closely targeted.
A shotgun approach is typically too expensive and typically does not produce the kind of results that it once did.
There are a lot of variables as far as what materials are being mailed, and who you are mailing it to.
Web & Electronic - Advertising on the web has become much more complicated over the years.
Here are just of few of the marketing channels available on the internet:.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which helps to improve your website's search result position for specific key phrases.
SEO is a topic all its' own, but my advice is to don't knock yourself out over popular key phrases you can't win.
PPC (Pay per Click) - Smaller ads that typically appear on the right-hand side of a search result page.
You bid on how much you will pay to appear under a specific search query...
The higher you bid, the better your position on the page.
E-Mail Marketing - Possibly the cheapest and most effective tool available, but only if you have a good, targeted list.
E-Mail marketing works best if you are keeping in touch with your current customers.
Affiliate Marketing- This is when a site owner displays one of your ads on his site, and you pay him whenever someone clicks on your ad, which links to your site).
This can get rather complicated...
but definitely worth investigating.
Banner Ads - These are small ads that appear on targeted websites.
You can pay per impression (page view), or pay when ever someone clicks on the ad, which is a link to your website.
Social Media - Again, this is a topic unto itself, but there are a lot of possibilities for repetitive customer contact and overall brand exposure at little or no cost.
The most popular and effective social media sites are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
They all work differently, and have their own strengths, but they are definitely worth investing some time in.
Blogs/Press Releases - An excellent, and often free opportunity to create web content that can help promote your site.
You should be sure to provide some kind of valuable information or content, and not just promotion for your company.
Marketing on a shoestring budget is not an exact science, and can have hundreds of variables.
Nobody really knows what will work and what won't, until you try it.
It is probably a good idea to invest as little as possible in each marketing channel, and do your best to track your results.
Again, the best marketing strategy is often one that promotes you company or product from as many different angles as possible, but nobody wants to flush money on a marketing method that isn't going to work for you.