You’re starting up a local micro-business. It might be web design services, business support, carpet cleaning, ironing, consultancy services or a Zumba class. Whatever you’re selling, you need to let people know what you’re doing and why they can’t live without your stuff. Most of the time it means setting up a website, then promoting it.
How do you choose which marketing media to focus on? What about keeping the costs to a bare minimum? And what about time? There are only so many hours in a day!
Choosing your marketing media weapons
The list is as long as your arm. You could get down and dirty with article marketing, PR, online advertising, Pay Per Click, social media marketing, email marketing, SEO, content marketing, inbound marketing… but three of the basic best, simplest and cheapest for local micro-business start-ups are probably online directories, blogging and social networking.
First, get your business in as many good quality local online directories as you can find. Most are free unless you want to pay for a featured ad. People really do use directories to track down local services, so it’ll give you nice, broad visibility. Make sure you give as much information you can and use good quality images.
Google likes it when you keep your website fresh and up to date. The best and easiest way to keep a site alive is blogging. If you haven’t got a blog yet, add one to your website. Most good hosting packages come with a one-click WordPress download, the world’s favourite free blogging platform and ridiculously easy to use. Many businesses base their entire websites on WordPress these days and if you don’t have a site yet, WordPress might be your best bet.
People enjoy blogs too because they’re full of useful, fun, interesting, relevant information: news and views, links to interesting places, product reviews and launches, opinions, trending topics, customer feedback, local news, photos, feedback and so on. Steer clear of hard selling and talk about more than your products and services. Make it interesting and varied, covering any and every aspect of your business, sector and industry. People also like buying from businesses that seem friendly, approachable and trustworthy – be yourself and you can’t go far wrong.
Blog at least twice a week, ideally daily. And make sure you include social media buttons on every post so people can share your posts.
Depending on where your potential customers hang out and how much marketing time you can spare, set up one or more accounts: a Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn account or Google Plus account. Then get to grips with the social networking basics. Treat it like networking rather than marketing: be friendly, interesting and interested, helpful and supportive, and leave out the hard sell. Be human, be yourself and it’ll help you spread the word.
What about offline marketing?
Our local rubbish clearance business has been using the exact same postcard for thirty years. They drop it through doors in our area two or three times a year and it obviously works well for them. It’s cheap too. Get a load of low cost postcards or fliers printed (you can do it online), drop them through doors by hand (in the places your customers are most likely to live or work) and see how much business you generate.
You can also:
- leave cards, posters or leaflets in shops, community centres, business centres, libraries…
- advertise in your free / paid local paper and Friday ad
- send press releases to your local paper whenever you have something genuinely newsworthy to say