Here at Bootstrap Local, we want to arm you with some of the most effective strategies for growing your business, giving you the biggest impact for the least amount of work. This post is inspired from this Reddit thread and we hope all of these ideas spark even more practical tactics for marketing your small business on a shoestring budget.
Local Magazine ⅓-Page Ad
Going to your local magazine or newspaper for circulation around your community can give you some great exposure. The key is to make sure your ads catch people’s eyes so they don’t skim right past. How do you get started?
- Choose a publication with a readership that matches your target audience (keeping in mind, most magazine/newspaper readers are in the 35 to 45 age bracket).
- Select the ideal placement and ad size based on your budget and marketing goals
- Hone in on your marketing message (what are you trying to accomplish? More traffic, awareness, special offer)
- Design your ad (snappy copy, eye-catching graphics, etc.)
- Submit your design and ask for a proof copy
- Select the dates when your ad will run and purchase chosen placement
- Track your ad’s performance… and keep on trying
If you struggle with designing ads, consider hiring a designer at an affordable price on a platform like Fiverr.
Helpful tips to consider:
- Advertise multiple times (you’ll get frequency discounts)
- Ask for discounts (introductory rates, seasonal features, etc.)
- Find out if “remnant buying” is an option for you (purchasing leftover or unsold space)
- Look at other venues for ad space (radio, locally-owned or non-profit papers, etc.)
- Earned media is free publicity for pitching an article idea
Request Customer Reviews
The power of customer reviews is not a new concept. We have addressed several ways to ask your customers for a good review and feedback in our blog post “4 Ways to Get Reviews from Your Customers.” Briefly, though, you can get more Google reviews by:
- Adding a feedback page to your website
- Using a specially-designed business card
- Sending a Thank-You email
- Verbally asking satisfied customers to leave comments
It’s not obnoxious, and, as the research shows, most people are more than willing to leave their thoughts if they are asked.
Social Media Ads
Everyone is aware of how each social media platform has a niche to which they appeal to very different audiences. Depending on your industry, you may choose one over the other; but at the end of the day, ads (regardless of which platforms you deem the best fit.. Social-based or otherwise) could vastly help you reach your goals toward awareness and driving traffic to your website.
Let’s consider the following platforms:
Beginning with a carefully designated and defined budget, proceed carefully before spending your allotment on an unproven ad. You can easily spend everything without gaining the positive results you had hoped for. Don’t be fooled by Facebook’s tracking of “clicks” and “interactions.” Look instead for conversions and sales through your website metrics.
Craigslist seems to be an under-utilized platform, but through which many small businesses have found great success. People tend to browse for things they need; but, for some reason, it hasn’t been picked up as a great lead source by others. Go try it out!
Rather than starting from scratch on various platforms, Google is already the leading search engine upon which people are constantly searching for what they need and want. Rather than trying to build awareness, just get out there and capture those leads.
The key here is optimization. Make sure your website, all your blog posts, use of keywords, SEO, and link-building are completely tight to yield the greatest conversion rate and continue to maintain it along the way.
Personal Interactions and Accessibility
When considering how best to reach your target audience, it’s important to remember that these are people who aren’t necessarily interested in buying what you’re offering but are interested in the personal connection. So, some basic offerings to provide are:
- Office hours
Making yourself available to your potential customers and allowing them to reach out for a personal connection and asking questions will create a tie and more incentive for loyalty. This sounds like a tall order simply for creating office hours, but this is a long look to what it could eventually become.
- Video interviews
Videos are such a popular medium for learning the answers to any query one may have that it would be foolish for you to overlook it in your own business. Begin sharing the answers to your most frequently asked questions. The goal is to be as helpful as possible so that your audience sees you as their go-to expert in the field, constantly return for the answers to their questions, and build long-lasting trust that will bring your name to the front of their mind when they’re ready to make a purchase.
- Start-up & Online Directories
This is a practical startup task that every small business should do as soon as they have their website up and running. The top five are:
- Google my Business
- Bing Places
For more directories to connect with, check out this article, and ask Adam for his list since he’s already pared it down to the 20% of places that perform 80% of the desired results.
Sometimes finding the local spot where your ideal or target audience hangs out, whether it’s a blog or social media group, can open you up for genuine interactions where you can be helpful and they will become more aware of what you have to offer.
At the end of the day, marketing strategy only works as far as you’ve been able to forge personal relationships with your intended audience by being helpful and completely authentic. If you have any questions, please reach out to us here at Bootstrap Local and we’d love to learn about your business and speak with you about what you need to succeed.