If you’ve ever worked with a local business or tried running your own start-up, you know that small business marketing is a whole different game than the advertising done by executives at large firms. Small businesses face a greater challenge to stand out from the rest of the crowd, because there are so many companies trying to make it as the next big thing. Before you succeed, your company will have to find a way to differentiate itself from others that are offering similar products or services. Here are five tips for effective small business marketing that can really get you results.1. Express Your IndividualityYour unique qualities as a small business is your bestselling point, so this should be the primary focus of any advertising campaign you run. There are several ways to figure out your individualistic qualities. Start by looking to your business plan and determining how you’ve set yourself apart from competitors. You’re likely to already have a host of ideas about your own uniqueness, though, so try getting another opinion. Ask friends or family members to tell you what they think is different about your business than what other companies offer, or conduct a small market research group with anonymous individuals. Once you have an idea of how other people perceive your company, you can start to incorporate these images into tangible marketing plans for an ad campaign.2. Pay Attention to Your CustomersAlways listen to what your customers are telling you. See if there is a demand within your industry for a particular type of new product or an improvement to an old product. Ask people what they would like to see from your company, as well as what they like best about you. This will help you to focus your marketing around a customer’s needs and desires. The most successful marketing campaigns will strike an emotional chord with customers, helping them feel connected to your product and excited about your company.3. Use Alternative Forms of AdvertisingAs a small business, you can benefit greatly from using alternative advertising channels to market your products and services. Social media channels like Facebook or Twitter might be the perfect place to begin an advertising campaign, as it gives you a cost-effective place to test an ad for effectiveness. However, when you begin running your ad campaigns through these or other alternative channels, it’s important to find a way to measure the statistics. You can use an analytics tool to look at your traffic results before the ad and after, in order to see how much positive or negative impact it had. These tools are great for small businesses because they are low-risk and easy to use.4. Focus on the Things You’re Good AtSmall businesses are often tempted to fulfill every aspect of their marketing campaigns themselves in an effort to cut costs and to have control over the project. Unfortunately, customers can often see through these cut corners. When you’re working on things like web design or copywriting, consider outsourcing tasks that you have little experience with. A professional will be able to create something for you that will bring better results. Keep in mind that the cost will be well worth it if it’s something that will bring you more traffic and more sales, as it will pay for itself quickly.5. Create a Memorable BrandFinally, create a memorable brand for your business. This is one area where you have a distinct advantage over larger companies, as their brands are often established and static. With a small business, you have the opportunity to try out different branding ideas and test them with your customers in order to see what gets the best results. Your brand should be memorable, celebrating your individuality and highlighting how well you can serve your customers. With innovative small business marketing, your company could just become the next big thing.
Every small business needs cash. It’s the reason most small businesses fail. They simply don’t have the resources to get through a cash deficit period. Here are 3 ways you may not have thought of to get funding for your business.Advertising Pay Per Response (PPR) and Pay Per Order (PPO)If you have a product, usually a consumer product, that requires heavy advertising to reach customers, try to convince advertising mediums such as magazines, newspapers, radio, and TV, to accept payment based on the orders generated in their publications, radio or TV broadcasts.Let’s use Metro Newspaper as an example. You place a display ad for your product that says please call 123-4567 to order or for further information. That phone number goes to an answering service that tracks the number of incoming calls. The only place that particular 123-4567 phone number appears is in the Metro Newspaper ad. For every caller (Pay Per Response) you then pay Metro Newspaper a $1.00, or whatever the agreed to rate is.You can also pay per order rather than per response.You benefit because you don’t have to find the cash to pay for the ad before it runs. You pay only when it produces results. Metro Newspaper sells space it wouldn’t have and has the opportunity to get more for that space than the regular ad rates if it’s successful.We used a newspaper as an example, but you can use the PPR or PPO with TV and radio as well. You can also use a coupon with a code on it as the response mechanism rather than a telephone number. Make sure you can track and identify the responses/orders generated by the ad placement. Usually the advertising medium will demand independent verification, or that the responses/orders go through an independent third party or fulfillment house. Occasionally, the advertising medium will handle the orders, receive payment from the customers and then forward the payment (less their charge) and the order to you to be fulfilled.Investor AdvertisingNo, this isn’t advertising for an investor. Again, this works better with consumer products that require substantial advertising, such as infomercials. You have the investor pay for the advertising and in return they receive a share of the revenues generated from the advertising. The orders have to be independently verified. Often the investor will demand that all the money generated from the orders be placed in a separate bank account, the investor’s share is deducted first and the remainder sent to you. The share to the investor can be substantial from 20 to 50% of the sales generated.Friends, Family And YourselfThis is probably the most widely used source of capital for small and start-up businesses. Any capital provided by friends, or your family, should be treated in a businesslike manner. If they’re buying equity in your company, then provide your business plan and disclose all the risks. Have them sign a statement that says they’ve received the business plan and recognize this is a risky investment. If they’re lending money to you personally to put in the company or lending directly to the company, have a loan agreement prepared with market rate interest and a repayment schedule. You can defer the interest for a year or make interest only payments if cash is tight.Realize that an outside investor most likely will not recognize that debt and allow it to be paid off with funds they provide. This is especially true if you’ve loaned your company money — an investor most likely will not pay you off or allow the company to pay you off until the company has reached positive cash flow.Don’t let your small business fail because you’ve run out of cash.
Local businesses have been in quite a quandary for many years. In order to compete with the major corporations, they have had to come up with more creative ways to advertise local business. Not only do they need to identify potential customers and to make these customers aware that their business even exists, but they must be able to provide some sort of unique selling point in order to lure customers away from the major corporations. Amongst all the different options that businesses have in regards to local business advertising, a few methods have always been more effective than others. Here are a few of the local advertising methods that any small business owner should consider.One of the simplest advertising methods is the use of flyers. This can be particularly effective depending upon the industry that a business is attempting to compete. One example of a trade in which advertising with flyers might be effective is a bug and pest extermination business. A single entrepreneur in this business typically is located near a few neighborhoods where he would like to acquire a lot of customers. He can simply have a number of flyers printed up on his personal printer or at his local copy shop. He can then go from door to door and place the flyers on the door handle of each door. Another good place to put the flyers is on the car windshields in a neighborhood shopping center. The flyers can be easily tucked under the windshield wiper of each car. If the entrepreneur does not want to do all the legwork himself, then he can pay a local teenager a dime or a nickel for each flyer that is distributed. Out of hundreds of flyers, it can only take one new regular customer to pay for them many times over.A more modern way of advertising is to locally advertise online. There are many free online directory sites where a small company can place a listing. There are also many search engine optimization (SEO) companies that can help a small business have their ad or website show up in the local search results of popular search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing. This is a quick way for a company to get their message and service in front of many more people than they would have otherwise. The Internet is making it easier and more cost effective than ever to reach a large number of prospects quickly and easily. Any company could get an online marketing campaign up and running in a matter of days.