One of the most important parts of running a small business is getting your brand out there to draw in more customers.
Unfortunately, many small businesses have to balance their need to market their brand with the realities of financing their marketing efforts. Big, flashy marketing campaigns might reach the most people, but they’re also expensive and hard to pull off on a small business budget.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t get your build your brand and use it to bring in new customers if you’re running a small business, of course. There are a number of cost-effective ways to build and market a small business brand without breaking the bank.
Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
Tighten Up Your Brand
One of the first things you should do when you want to build up your brand is to examine just what sort of shape your brand is currently in: Do you have a general direction for your brand? What about a professional-looking logo and brand message? If you don’t have iconic elements that help to define your brand, it’s going to be a lot harder to market your business effectively on a budget.
Take some time to decide just what sort of an image you want your business to have, and focus your branding efforts around that image. Get a logo made if you don’t already have one, and get your current logo reworked if you think it looks a bit too amateur. Make sure that your business cards, flyers and any other materials you have all reflect this new brand direction moving forward.
Take It to Social Media
Many small businesses overlook the true power of social media.
Chances are you’ve got a Facebook page and maybe a Twitter account set up for your business, but what do you do with them? What incentives do your fans and customers have to share your posts? Do your followers even interact with your social media accounts at all? Social media is a great low-cost outlet for developing your brand and getting people used to the new look and feel of your small business.
This doesn’t mean that you need to spend all of your time on social media, of course. You should make at least a few posts per week, however, and they should all fall in line with your brand message and the sort of attitude you want your business to convey. Run periodic contests that require entrants to follow your page and share posts with others to get some low-cost promotion going, and be sure to respond to those who take the time to interact with your pages.
The more active your accounts are, the more people will take interest in what you have to say.
Build a Real Website
Social media is a great tool, but it shouldn’t be the entirety of the online presence you create for your business.
Websites are relatively inexpensive to register and maintain, and there are a number of professional web designers that can make you a top-notch website without breaking the bank. At the very least your website should let potential customers find out more about your business and basic information such as how to contact you and your hours of operation.
While you’re designing your website, you should also include a blog that you can make at least periodic posts to. These posts can then be shared on social media, increasing their exposure, and will serve to update your site with fresh content with every update. It may seem like a lot of work maintaining a blog in addition to everything else, but you’d be surprised at how effective a blog can be at keeping your visitors engaged and coming back for more.
Major advertising campaigns can be expensive.
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your costs in this regard. Find other small businesses that complement your own and enter into talks about cross-promotional advertisements to see if you can’t build up both businesses at a fraction of the normal cost of advertising.
These cross-promotions can take the form of in-store advertisements for the other location or full ad campaigns that feature both businesses and that both of you share the costs of. If one of these promotional partnerships proves exceptionally effective you may even get a long-term advertising partner out of the deal.
Chances are, there are a lot of events that occur in your area throughout the year.
Concerts, parades, sporting events and charity functions are quite popular, and are often looking for sponsors. The cost of sponsorship varies depending on the event and the sponsorship level that you choose, but it still gets the name of your business out there to attendees. You can even donate branded items such as cups that can be given away during the event, leading to even more advertising at very little cost to your business.
Regardless of which method you choose, just make sure that all of your marketing efforts support your brand message. Building a strong brand is a long-term commitment, but it’s worth it when you see how your branding and marketing efforts will make your business grow.