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Six Cost – Effective Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

Presentation at the ‘Knowledge is Your Wealth Business Support Series’ Workshop on Saturday February 25, 2017 at Advantage General Building.
“So you just got your new business registered and you are ready to start approaching prospective customers. This is great!!! Now, how are you how are you going to get your brand known amongst your prospective customers with a minute budget while effectively competing with larger and more established firms in your market?” I will be sharing six (6) Cost – Effective Marketing Strategies for Start-ups that I would strongly recommend to new entrepreneurs and some suggestions for how they can be applied.

This was the dilemma that I faced as I tried to determine exactly how I was going to get “my foot in the door” of my prospective customers while my competitors are large companies that enjoy a strong presence in the market. I had to learn to employ the six Sales strategies to get the time of day from my prospective clients:

1. Be where your target audience is 

2. Change your perspective and leverage your strengths

3. Utilize social media to add value

4. Build and use your social capital

5. Get those referrals

6. Capitalize the strengths of others

Be where your target audience is?

As a Start – Up you have a unique advantage of being able to approach your target audience through by meeting them not only through traditional means but by meeting them at places that they typically frequent. Greene, R. (2006) highlighted that, persons are likely to be more receptive to information that best suits their needs when they are more likely to accept in an environment that feels most natural. For example, if your product were lets say laundry detergents that will be ideal for cleaning tough stains in one wash, you could do a live demonstration of its use at half  time during sporting events where parents are likely to be in attendance.

That example illustrates that this approach also paves the way for utilizing Guerilla Marketing in your marketing strategy. Guerilla Marketing is an advertising strategy that focuses on using low-cost unconventional marketing tactics that yield maximum results Entrepreneur (2016). 

Do as much research as possible about your consumers to learn not only the basic information about them but what factors impact them, the age of the company and most likely the contact persons that you will encounter, the size of the company, and even research the contact persons that you would like to meet with. This way you can learn what are the environments that the contact person or company representatives would be a part of so that you can best appeal to them in the unconventional areas to be used.

Change your perspective and leverage your strengths

As a new entrepreneur, it may seem very daunting to approach clients, let alone if they are large companies. It is natural to feel like you are David facing your own Goliath in the market. However, being small can work to your advantage if you know what your strengths are and change your perspective. Your business size makes you nimble and unlike your competitors, you get to be able to fit into environments that your larger competitors might not even have thought of to present your unique product offering.

Perform a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Analysis to identify your strengths and weaknesses versus your competitors. Then, from there get a sheet of paper and write down what your product or service is, who are your customers, where are they located or send the most time and why do you think that your customers should buy from you. You should also use his information to assess the value of your business products or services to use the value that you offer to stand out amongst your customers in the places where they spend the most of their time. 

This may sound overly optimistic but focusing on a shortcoming will eventually cause you to worry and induce stress and frustration. It does not make the limitation go away. Consequently, instead of focusing on what you do not have as a limitation, look on what it allows you to do since you do not have what our competitor would have to deliver the value that your products or services offer. Then brainstorm everything that you have currently at your disposal to solve the task at hand. 

Utilize Social Media to add value

We are probably aware of how prevalent social media has become in our daily interactions, especially since businesses are using it to reach their customers. Word Stream (n.d.) presented the following statistics: 

Almost 80% of time spent on social media happens on mobile devices; As a matter of fact, more than half of all YouTube views are done on mobile devices

Youtube reaches more 18  34 and 18  49 year old persons than any cable network in the U.S.;

76% of Facebook users visited the site daily in 2016, with over 1.6 billion daily users;

The average LinkedIn user spends 17 minutes on the site per month”; and it “boasts more than 450 million user profiles ;

Over 400 million snaps are shared on Snapchat per day, and almost 9,000 photos are shared every second;

88% of businesses with more than 100 employees use twitter for marketing purposes; 

You see many companies using advertisements (ads) campaigns on many of these social media sites. However, if you spent your last dollar to get your business registered, create your product, logo, etc. and your business is not profitable yet, then you may not have the kind of funds needed to run successful ad campaigns now. 

So how should you proceed? Share content that add value to your target audience. For instance, you can share existing articles or create an article about how to manage your income to achieve your goals geared towards young professionals who need financial advice if you are targeting stressed out young professionals who need guidance in managing their income and you have the background and experience to relate to those persons. 

Evans, D. and McKee, J. (2010) discusses the engagement process to facilitate the effective use of social media and creating social businesses. This source explained that this process is comprised of the following stages in this order:

Consumption  “watching, reading, or listening to digital content;”

Curation  sorting and filtering, rating, reviewing, commenting on, tagging, and otherwise describing content based on the value that you derived from the content;

Creation – developing articles, pictures, blogs, statuses, videos, music, etc. (content) to be viewed by others;

Collaboration  connecting customers to your business by listening to customer feedback or complaints and addressing them on or through those platforms AND use that information to implement change in your business.

Bet-David, P. (2016) purports that for an ad campaign to be successful on a social media platform like YouTube, platform would already need to have 1,000,000 views a day ads for it to translate to significant profits for a business. While this may not be applicable to every product or services being marketed on every social media platform, you need to ensure that you attract enough followers and know how to add value through the platforms before spending already limited capital on an ad campaign. That way you will have enough persons in your target audience following you on your social media platform to be impacted by the ad campaign.

Build your Social Capital

You may not have the desired funding or connections for your business. However, you can meet and interact with persons daily on a direct level on social networks and in person, especially as a newly established start-up. In fact, you do have existing connections that can direct you to the persons whom you may need if you leverage them properly. Therefore, focus on expanding your social network or capital and using your existing channels to get the kind of connections that you really need.

Do not be afraid to go where your target market is and talk to people. Go to those expos, workshops, club meetings, conventions, or anywhere that is relevant to you, your target market and what your business stands for to meet people. You are the voice of your company as the owner of a newly established start-up because you should know more about your products or services than anyone else. Hence, you already have a part of what you need to engage persons that you meet for the first time at events and convert them into active customers.

Have you ever noticed that persons have created statuses asking for information that they needed and one of their friends on that platform answered their question? For example: where can I find a good graphics designer? Answer, I have a friend who can assist. I will inbox you his contacts. This is because persons have come to the realization that someone usually knows someone else who can assist them with the information that they need. You can capitalize on that as well both on social media and among your colleagues, acquaintances, friends, etc. It is much more convenient to reach prospective customers and suppliers now more than ever once you know to leverage your social capital.

Get those Referrals!

Did you know that the commonly quoted average being it costs 7 times more to sell to a new customer than to an existing customer Kingwill, I. (2015). That means that if you have a significant amount of existing customers but you spend the majority of your time trying to get new customers, then it will cost you 7 times as much in times, cash and other resources than to retain existing customers. 

Unfortunately, many existing customers are often ignored after the sale has been completed and this is done to the determent of the business. This is because they eventually end up being dissatisfied with the services and can bad mouth the business to prospective customers. How many times have you avoided going to a restaurant, movie, clothes store, etc. after it got a bad review from someone who was close to you. Can you imagine if persons do that with your business?

Implement measures to ensure that existing customers are satisfied with your product or services, act on their feedback and follow-up with them to get referrals. When a customer leaves your business transaction and is delighted with your service and that happens on a consistent basis, that builds customer loyalty. Over time, if this continues, those existing customers can become evangelists for your business. Also, track the repeat customer usage and acknowledge their loyalty or their referrals. Compliments make the work lighter and persons tend to work a lot harder when they feel as though their efforts are valued.

Capitalize on the strengths of others

What if it is very difficult for you to just go up and talk to people or cold call customers? What if you cannot come up with creative strategies to reach prospective customers and convert them into active customers? Are you clueless about how to create content on social media for your target audience? Here is a solution, capitalize on the strengths of others.

As an entrepreneur, you will constantly be placed in situations where you may not have all the knowledge, experience or resources needed for an area of your business. However, you will need to learn how to collaborate with other entities or persons to benefit from the strengths of others to successfully solve the issue at hand. Carnegie, D. (1981) highlighted that the most successful leaders became successful by learning how to collaborate with those persons who had the knowledge and resources that they lacked. Those leaders had their own challenges, however, capitalizing the talents of others helped them overcome them challenges.

Bringing it all together

You may not have the funds necessary to have a huge Marketing Budget to adequately market your business. However, you can use entities like Think Premium! and some of these tips below to help you to build awareness for your business among your target audience. 

Use your resources to place your product and service where your target audience is will provide you value for your small business than advertisements that do not readily translate into sales.

Stop focusing on what you do not have and change your perspective then leverage your business strengths to use it to overcome your weaknesses. 

Utilize social media to add value to both yourself and your business to attract customers. You can even build and use your social capital (especially those on social media) to meet new customers and suppliers. 

Delight your existing customers and acknowledge their efforts to get those customer referrals. 

Forge partners with others to whose strengths can be used to overcome your limitations.

This way you are more likely have sound foundation from a marketing stand-point to developing a thriving business while on a small budget.

Marcia Bent is the Chief Executive Officer of Think Premium! Think Premium! is a Marketing company that provides Premium Promotional Hostesses, Promotional Hosts and Brand Ambassadors for companies that has or participates in events or field marketing activities. They also offer Mystery Shopping, Guerilla Marketing, Event Planning, Event Support, Brand Positioning, Social Media Marketing, etc. She can be reached at 359-6158 or at thinkpremiumja@gmail.com for further information about these services.

References:

Bet-David (Producer) (October 5, 2015). How to stand out on Social Media as an entrepreneur [Video File]. Valutainment. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PlfdGxOLVE 

Carnegie, D. (1981). How to win friends and influence people. (Revised Edition). Retrieved from:

Entrepreneur (2016). What is Guerilla Marketing. Guerilla Marketing? Retrieved from: http://www.creativeguerrillamarketing.com/what-is-guerrilla-marketing/

Greene, R. (2006). The 33 Strategies of War  A Joost Elffers Production. Penguin Group: New York. Retrieved from: https://blackmystory.files.wordpress.com

Kingwill, I. (2015, March 3). What is the cost of customer acquisition vs customer retention. [LinkedIn article]. Retrieved from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-cost-customer-acquisition-vs-retention-ian-kingwill
Word Stream (2017). 40 Essential Social Media Marketing Statistics for 2017. Retrieved from: http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/01/05/social-media-marketing-statistics 

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