By Rachel Newman
My dad is a small business owner. No, my dad is a stubborn small business owner. He insists each year on spending hundreds of dollars on over-priced advertising. No matter what I tell him, he still pumps money into the same marketing strategies, and then complains about his clientele.
Even after his business was involved in an armed robbery, in which he thwarted the bad guy and was thus nicknamed Dr. Awesome (he is an optometrist), he still refused to leverage his 15 minutes of fame into a golden marketing opportunity. The reason he declined, I can only assume, is because my dad doesn’t understand one key aspect of marketing: where you put your money matters.
The type of advertising you choose matters not just in terms of how much return you see for your dollar, but in the kind of return you see. If you spend hundreds of dollars advertising in the Penny Saver or on Groupon, then you will naturally pull clients that are penny pinchers. If you spend money on online advertising, then you will more than likely reach a younger demographic that is technically savvy.
What many small business owners, including my father, don’t realize is that there is a wealth of cheap opportunities out there that allow you to diversify and reach outside of your target market. Some of the expensive advertising options can be great for your business, but try a few of these, and I think you will see results:
· Don’t just shout it from the rooftops, make it echo. Look for opportunities to take your business to the community. Make a list of the topics that you are qualified to talk about, and then contact local clubs and groups to see if they would be interested in having you as a guest at one of their meetings. Most importantly, ask them to refer you to other groups. Word of mouth can be your strongest marketing tool.
· Brand yourself. Often times, it’s not enough just to have your name and address on a business card. Get creative. Create a logo and tagline, and put it on your business cards and store fronts. After that, think of a promotional item that gels with your business and would be of interest in the community. If you are an electrician, consider a light up keychain, or if you are a plumber, try branded water bottles.
· Write a press release. Anytime something happens, put pen to paper and get it out there. Even if it doesn’t get picked up by a big media source, there are many online outlets for you to get the word out. You never know who might be reading about your company.
· Hoof it. Flyers can be an extremely low cost way of reaching an unmatched number of consumers. Put on some comfortable shoes, and start posting flyers all over your community: at grocery stores, college campuses, and doorsteps.
· Get online. The internet and social media can be scary places, but they are the best free marketing your company can get for itself. Join Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and engage in the conversation. Just make sure you are ready to have a steady presence on your page, because not being active online can be just as costly to your business as not being online at all.
Don’t be like my dad, try one or all of the above and watch the customers pour in. Get out there and show your company off to the community. For more information about marketing opportunities with your San Diego BBB, visit our website. To RSVP for the October 20th Marketing Program for Accredited Businesses Breakfast, contact Rachel Newman.