This is a guest post from Adarsh Thampy.
Not many business owners are directly involved in marketing their business. Why? Probably because they have an employee or entire department handling marketing and sales.
Most entrepreneurs and small business owners aren’t entitled to such luxuries. Many are just starting out. So I get questions from them about how to market their business with minimum cost and maximum effectiveness. Here’s what I suggest…
Therefore local business owners need to market their products or services in the best way possible to earn profit and goodwill. There are many online and offline methods to promote your local business such as word of mouth, social networking, banners, links and advertisements, etc, but that can be overwhelming and expensive.
Most of the local businesses are small in nature so they have limited budgets to promote their businesses. Hence they adopt free or cheap methods of marketing and advertisement. Quality of the product or service and the way in which you market your products or services is very important for the success of a business.
Here, then, are my 26 tips for promoting your own local business:
1. Create an account on Google Places to promote your local business. You can enter company name, address, website and phone numbers in the process of account creation. Your information is verified through a telephone call and after verification you will get map listing of your company or business. This process is completed in a few weeks. You can also create a basic listing in yahoo directory according to category or geographic location. This information is important because now people search most of the businesses through internet. Your business listing can help in bringing lots of potential customers. Provide your contact number and address without errors so that potential customers can contact you without any problem. Once they get in touch with you, you should be able to convince them to purchase your product or service. No hype please!!!
2. You can use coupons (Groupon, for example), text or banner ads to advertise on high traffic websites, blogs or forums. These ads are very useful because high profile websites have thousands of unique visitors daily which can be your customers. Since these websites have already built huge amount of credibility, you can make use of their trustworthiness to your advantage. I have done this for a few client websites and the results were a 150% increase in sales and 800% increase in visitors
3. Develop a unique selling proposition (USP) for your business. Make sure that it resonates what your business is all about
4. Encourage your customers to write reviews about your products or services. These reviews are written to elaborate pros and cons of your products or services. They bring large number of customers to your company website. If you are providing really bad service or a product, expect your customers to bad mouth you. No amount of reputation management you do will help you in that case. Quality always wins hands down in my experience
5. Position your local brick and mortar business in such a way that it is easily accessible for your target customers. That’s the “location, location, location” mantra.
6. Yellowpages.com is also used to promote your business locally. Craigslist.com is the most popular option available for people looking to market locally while they are online.
7. Make sure you don’t run out of stock for products that are in demand.
8. You can develop a small business website or blog to promote your business because web presentation of business is necessary. You can get customers, readers or subscribers through your website which can increase the number of potential customers. Your website will be another way to bring potential customers through search engine searches. So rank of your website can play an important role in getting traffic. Hire a good SEO Consultant for your website so that they can achieve quick and effective rankings without damaging your reputation
9. You can get free advertisement on various directories so you should use this source of promotion for your business.
10. If you are into service business, make sure that you can meet deadlines. Try to deliver before time if possible
11. Never compete solely on price. If you think that you need to increase your product or service price, do so by all means. Remember, people expect quality and will pay for it. If you do not pay attention to their needs, they will never pay attention to your products
12. You can market your business through emails you send out. Add the URL of your website in your email signatures. When you email your contacts or others, your website address will also be sent with the message. More exposure will results in more clicks to your site
13. Print out the URL of your website on your business cards or letterhead because they play an important role in business advertisement.
14. You can also add some articles related to your products or services on journals and article directories to promote your business. You need to focus keywords related to your products or services to get traffic from search engines. Ensure that the author bio is enticing enough for the readers to click through to your site
15. You can develop a social network to advertise your business among the people of your locality. Word of mouth is the most successful way of marketing your products and services. So use it to promote your business wisely. Would you buy after hearing the recommendation of a friend or the sales pitch of the local salesman?
16. Signs can also be placed at popular places to promote your local business. You should add your latest products, news and offers on them to attract customers. However make sure that you target related places for placing advertisements. If you place an advertisement for a pub near a hospital, it’s not going to do you much good
17. Launch attractive packages and discounts to attract customers. Whatever the ways of marketing are, these packages attract large number of customers. It’s a human tendency. Whenever I see people rushing to a sale, I notice the fact that it’s because of discounts or prizes they could win
18. You can also launch a marketing plan through unexpected events and actions. For example you can launch road shows, seminars and public meetings to market your products and services. Such marketing techniques have been proved successful in the promotion of your local business. There are a lot of failed campaigns as well. This happens when your campaign appears as a publicity stunt to your audience
19. You can provide your toll-free number to contact your business development executives, support staff or marketers. Sometimes people don’t call due to heavy call charges so toll-free number can help in such situations
20. You can publish your business name on products like pencils, erasers and other small objects because these things will market your products and services quietly. You should distribute such products in schools and public places because they will promote your business
21. Stickers, pamphlets and other means of local media such as radio and TV can also be used to market your products and services
22. Use guerilla marketing tactics. This involves using unusual modes of marketing your product in a way that catches the observer’s attention. However most of the time, people tend to think more of the event rather than the product
23. Never promote products out of season. It won’t be a wise choice to promote ice creams in the winter season
24. Stick with a brand and develop it. People are brand conscious and they spend money for the brand. If you can carve a name for your product in the niche you are in, you win
25. Give out offers that will entice people to visit your local business or buy from you. Even if the offer means FREE products, you can make back your investment if people find your product to be of quality
26. Promote products stating its benefits. Tell your customers what is so special about your product and why they should use it. Give them an incentive to try it if you want, but make sure you educate them about the actual benefits they get from using the product
Whatever products or services you provide to your customers, you need to promote them. Prepare a good and complete marketing plan to advertise your business. Use multiple means to promote your business because in this age, companies market their products or services using new and advanced methods, along with old and traditional methods (radio anyone?).
If you have an online business, it totally depends on promotional and marketing strategies because you don’t have physical presence in such businesses. Therefore your website ranking in search engine is very important in online business development. Promotion of business is necessary for local, national or international business whether it is established online or offline.
Marketing department of your business should be dynamic and energetic because businesses depend on it. You should compete with your competitors on all grounds to have good business and image in the market. Your dealing should be excellent to enhance the value of your product or service in the market and in the minds of your customers.
Never wait for perfecting your product before its release. Just release it and improve it in later stages. Listen carefully to what your customer needs and try to fulfill that need. My local business caters to the need of people to stay fit and healthy. What need is your business taking care of?