There is nothing quite like the feeling of meeting someone for the first time, sharing your business name and then hearing their reply “Oh yes, I know your company!” It can really give you a huge buzz knowing that something you created has had an impact and whether that impact was small or large, its obviously been enough to stick.
But when you are a start up you can be caught between a rock and a hard place; you may feel the need to ratchet up your marketing, but who has the money to spend on big marketing campaigns? Precious few. So here is the first installment in my 4 part series on Low Cost, High Impact Marketing Strategies that I hope will help you shake things up a bit, without shaking out the piggy bank.
#1: Listing Your Business on Free Online Directories
My very first client came to me from a free online directory I had listed with a few days prior. I think I was still running around buying equipment and registering the company name! I had listed on heaps of free online directories hoping it would boost my website rankings, which it did, but I was not counting on leads contacting me through the directory so soon. A couple of years down the track and I have gained many clients through various online directories. Even one of the top four banks in the country found me using a small online community directory!
ACTION: Google the term online business directory incorporating information about your locality, i.e. online business directory [City], online business directory [State/County/Province], online business directory [Country]. Then try a variation using industry specific terms, i.e. online directory [trade/service] or online directory, [product]. This will help you find the directories that will benefit you the most, but be sure to check they are free before signing up.
#2: Participating in a Community Expo
There seems to be an expo for absolutely everything these days, but some of the commercially run expos can be really expensive to participate in. I took part in a local expo run by a charity group which was held at a local hall. The venue wasn’t that glitzy and I didn’t sell a thing that day, but I could not have come away happier. I think the stall cost me the grand total of AU$35 and for that princely sum I met so many people who stopped to talk to me, grabbed my business card and took a handful of sweets from the bowl I had on the table (always a good lure!). In the month that followed I gained two fantastic clients and a brilliant business contact who I swap referrals with. The two clients that I gained at the expo, have gone on to refer me to their contacts, bringing me even more leads.
ACTION: Call your local charity groups, schools, Rotary/Apex clubs, Chamber of Commerce, local government etc to see when they are planning on hosting their next business expo or if they can tell you who will be hosting one. Also keep an eye out for notices in your local paper. These smaller groups are usually crying out for stallholders and will welcome you with open arms!
#3: Volunteer With A Local Club or Community Group</span>
You may be a member of a sporting club, school committee, charity group, professional organisation or perhaps your children or partner are involved in a club or group. Think about the other members of that club and how many of them are involved in, or own businesses that could potentially use your services. A good way to make your business known to members is to volunteer your services or serve as a committee member with your club or group. Directly approaching members and giving them your elevator pitch can be a real turn off, but volunteering provides a platform where you can display your business, products/services to the club or group and be seen in a positive, professional and generous light—which is always an attractive quality in a business partner isn’t it?
ACTION: Schedule some time to attend your club or group’s meetings. Volunteer to be a committee member or approach the committee, tell them of your business, trade or service and let them know that you would like to help. You don’t have to over commit yourself to every single meeting, but find some middle ground for regular attendance that you will be comfortable with stick to it, i.e. “I can’t attend every month, but every second month I will attend.” and make that clear to the committee so they know when they can expect to see you and can plan around it.
I hope you find these Low Cost, High Impact Marketing Strategies helpful and be sure to look out for the next three installments of this 4 part series of blog posts.