Here are nine things you can do today to promote your small business and set yourself apart from the competition.
1. Set up a Website
Owning a domain name can cost between $2 and $13 a year on average. Building a website takes time and energy if you do it yourself, and money if you either buy a theme from a place like themeforest.com or if you use a website developer like Todd Willsie of Renegade Pixel. Hosting your own website is the cheapest but most difficult (as you have to set up your own server), but web hosting sites (like dreamhost) can be used from as little as $3 a month. It is also important to have a mobile-friendly website, as most consumers are attached to their phones rather than their laptops. When deciding whether or not you need a website to promote your business just ask yourself this question: Can you afford to not exist on Google?
2. Social Media Platforms
(Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, Flikr, etc.)
Price: Depends! You could do it yourself, which costs time and energy, or you could hire Well Said Communications to set everything up for you.
You do not need to have a presence on all social media platforms. Know your audience first, and where you are most likely to find them online, then stick with those ones. The point of social media is to create two way conversation with your audience, so engage them! If you want to advertise after that, the price is dependent on the platform, as well as the size, placement and timeliness of your ad.
3. Interact/Participate in Online groups, Forums and Social Media
Price: Free! (Your time and energy)
If you are participating you are getting your name and your business out there. You are networking online. If people start to recognize you online for being an expert in your field, then you will be top of mind when they go looking to contract that product/service.
4. Go to Networking Events
Many networking events are free or have low-cost one-time payments. You can use Meetup or Eventbrite to check and see what events are going on in your area. Pick ones that are going to be filled with your target audience! There are also official networking groups with annual fees as well as event fees. These can be in the hundreds of dollars a year, but depending on the type of organization it is, it can be well worth the money for the business that it generates for you. I highly recommend CIBN for promoting small businesses and entrepreneurs, and JCI for those under 40 looking to socialize and do business.
5. Have Business Cards
If you are going to all of these networking events, you’re going to need your own business cards. Are you a designer and can create and print them yourself? Great, do that. For everyone else, take the time to get your cards done up properly. They are a reflection of you, your business and your brand. Don’t skimp. If you want to get really fancy you can hire a Graphic Designer like David Hogan of Genius Works, or use a crowd sourcing website like 99 Designs to design your logo and your cards before taking them to a printing company like Staples or Digital Post.
6. Content Creation
(Try blogging, videos, demonstrations, white papers and presentations!)
Price: Depends! You can spend your time and energy writing/filming/designing all of these things or you could better spend that time doing what you do best – your business. Hire Well Said Communications Inc. and get both.
Creating content is always a time suck, but if you can add value to your customers, show off your knowledge, and promote your business all in one step isn’t that worth your time? Creating content not only helps you to differentiate yourself from the competition, but also helps your google rankings, keeps you top of mind with your clients, and gives you conversation jump off points for your networks.
7. Cold Calling
Price: Free! (Your time, energy and self esteem)
Don’t just randomly call people out of the phone book (do people still use phone books?) curate a list of potential clients that actually need or would find use for your products and services. This goes back to knowing your target audience. Do your homework; Know who you’re calling before you call them and you’ll find that fewer calls end up as “no’s” and hang-ups.
8. Leveraging Current Relationships and Complimentary Businesses/Services.
Price: Your time and energy
How many people do you know? Personally, professionally or just in general? The average person knows more than 175 people. And if each of the people you know, know more than 175 people, the number of people you actually have access to is closer to 30 thousand. That’s a big market to go through without doing any traditional advertising. So go through your contacts and meet with people. You never know where your next lead is going to come from. Also, if you make alliances and partnerships with complimentary products and services (like I have with my computer guy, website developer, graphic designer and videographer), you will find more and more of your leads are easier to find.
9. Donate your Time/Product/Service
Price: Your time, products and services
Now this one is hard for many people to accept (myself included), but giving away your products and services away for free (for a limited time or quantity) can be a great way to generate buzz, excitement or interest in your business. It can help you to reach places and meet people you otherwise wouldn’t get to connect with. It is a valuable tool as long as you don’t use it too often (and put yourself out of business!) An offshoot of this idea is the bartering system like eXmerce which trades goods and services for other goods and services. It won’t pay the mortgage, but it might take care of your business networking fee, your printing needs, or even your plumbing.
If you want to know more about anything or anyone mentioned above, or would like to hire Well Said Communications Inc. to help you with your promotions or content, contact me for a free consultation. Want to see more content like this? Subscribe.