There are many ways to try to start building brand awareness and gaining customers through your marketing on a small budget or with little resources. This article will look at marketing strategies for a small or new business by looking at the following 6 methods:

  • Optimise for local business
  • Create useful content
  • Use email marketing
  • Using social media
  • Create a referral program
  • Find a community
  1. Optimise for local business

First, create a Google My Business page. This is the listing that appears in the search results if a user searches your business name or your services. This free listing will allow you to appear on Google Maps as well as showing all relevant contact information, opening times and reviews. Building this up first will ensure you are visible locally to anyone searching online. 

Then take a look at your website. It should make a good first impression as it is your online ‘storefront’. Make sure it has a fast load time and is suitable for both web and mobile use. It should be clean looking, ie: it shouldn’t have distracting imagery or moving parts on pages that you want your customers to read. Keep it simple and effective so that customers who are new to you have a good experience on your website.

A simple way to try optimise your website for local SEO is to include your location in some of your headings. For example, on your About Us or services page, you might use a heading such as ‘Affordable hairstyling services in Edinburgh’ or ‘Best wedding cakes in Newcastle’ or similar, to target local people searching for those phrases.

  1. Create useful content

‘Digital content’ is basically the information on your website, and it can be in the form of written text, imagery or video. By using a business blog and creating content (articles) you have the opportunity to show your expertise and attract the attention of searchers who may be a good match for your business products or services. And best of all, creating content will only cost your own time.

A good way to get free article ideas is to Google a question your business gets asked all the time. Perhaps you are an electrician, and many of your customers ask you which colour is the live wire. First, search that question, and scroll down until you find the ‘People also ask’ list of more questions. This should give you a variety of related subjects to start creating articles, imagery or videos about, to show potential customers that you are an authority on the topic.

  1. Start email marketing

Email can be a highly effective method that can provide a source of business leads when you work on it consistently. It’s also relatively cheap to get software or programs to help you manage it.

To stand out in an email inbox, you need to provide your subscribers with something valuable, using a striking subject line to draw them in. If they feel an email is not worth their time, they could delete it without reading it. To gain their interest, create emails that do one of the following:

  • Solves a problem or improves something for them
  • Grabs attention/shocks the reader
  • Provides an easy way for them to fix something they are struggling with
  • Gives them inspiration

In the B2B world, the way to gain readers is to show how you can save them time, stress or lessen their workload. If you are a product based B2C company, you might find more success with visual content, like before and after pictures, or creating aspirational content like mood boards or monthly roundups (such as ‘our favourite customer transformations’, ‘our top picks for winter’ and such like).

  1. Using social media

Social media is a great free tool for building brand recognition and an audience, so first, you have to first figure out where your target clients are spending their social media time. It’s good to be active on all platforms, but in the early days, it might be more beneficial to pick the most useful platform for your business and focus your time on making that platform really strong.

Generally, B2B businesses may have more success via Linkedin or Twitter, where the culture is centred around information sharing. If you are B2C or product based you may find more success with Instagram or Facebook because they are more visual platforms where you can feature attractive imagery. 

  1. Create a referral program

Let your customers help you promote the business by creating a referral system. This could be money off their next purchase, or a free hour of your time, depending on what your products and services are. 

By offering the customer something valuable they may be more likely to share with their social circle — and it’s been shown that 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know. This could open up your business to a whole new range of people.

  1. Find a community

Get your business in front of other like-minded individuals or in front of groups that are your target customer. By engaging with groups and embedding your business in a community like this you can build brand loyalty and awareness, both online and offline.

You can use Facebook groups or forums online, or partner up with another business that complements yours, to provide useful services or products for both of your audiences. You could also apply for industry awards to showcase your skills and services, although this will usually cost you money to apply.

Offline activity is also very worthwhile in creating communities, such as trade shows that could allow you to meet influencers in your sector, as well as new groups of customers. For instance, perhaps you have a gluten-free bakery, and attending ‘free-from’ events could get your company directly in front of your target audience and influencers who could work with you.

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