When business finances are low but you still need to be marketing your business to attract new clients there some low and zero cost marketing strategies you can implement.
1. The Drop In - Get to know other business owners in your local area by dropping in to their place of work. Don't go in to sell – just pop in to learn more about their business and see if there are any ways you could possibly send them some new clients. If you take the -sharing is caring' attitude you will find yourself some great JV partners to form solid business relationships with.
2. Get Out Networking – Some networking groups are free and other charge a ticket fee. Besides any ticket cost, you will only be out of pocket for your time and perhaps a drink or 2. Be selective in the networking events you attend. Challenge yourself to attend a networking event outside your local area.
3. Wear A Uniform – A simple uniform (even just matching shirts) with your logo on it is a professional way to increase your image and get your business noticed by others. Think about the number of people you pass every day. With your logo or slogan on the uniform you become a walking billboard.
4. Social Media – If you have not taken the plunge into social media you are missing out. Not only are your clients on social media, but they are actively awaiting new content and information. There are many different social media platforms – Facebook, Linked In, You Tube, Pinterest, Instagram… The list goes on. Work out what social media platforms your prospective clients are using and create a business profile and start communicating with them.
5. Blogging – We have become a business community of content creators. Content really is king in business. From Google page rankings to private and mass media websites – content is a fantastic way to showcase your expertise and make a name for yourself. Take a stand and don't be afraid to have a point of view. Not everyone has to love you – just the clients who want to work with you. And as an added bonus – don't forget to share your blogs on your social media sites.
Multi award winning entrepreneur Jaclyn Bold is the CEO of Bold Connections and a Business Branding and Personal Branding Specialist. She works globally with her clients to raise their profile and profits, receive media coverage, attract more clients and build strong business relationships. Jaclyn is also a Director Consultant for BNI Sydney CBD South providing networking education and assistance to the BNI Chapters of the region and its members. Jaclyn has owned and operated 7 companies in the last 8 years and has broken the stereotypes of women in business by owning and operating 4 automotive repair companies. In 2009 when Jaclyn and her husband were working in a multi-family business her life changed irrevocably. A split in the business partnership left her family virtually bankrupt, homeless and without employment. Jaclyn worked 3 jobs around the clock, juggled 3 children under the age of 5 and rebuilt the family business. Today Jaclyn successfully runs 2 companies and shoulders the responsibilities of mum, wife and multiple business owner in her stride. Jaclyn is an accomplished speaker – not afraid of the stage after a dance career forged at the age of 6 saw her being a seasoned performer and a qualified dance instructor. Over the past 7 years Jaclyn and her companies have worked with some of Australia's leading companies including Toll, Aldi Supermarkets, P&O, Premier Marine, Sutherland Shire Council, Australian Customs and Border Security and University of NSW. Jaclyn is a regular speaker on radio and guest lecturer at Sydney Institute TAFE. Jaclyn is also regularly contacted by the media for expert comment and has been featured in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the Today Show and Dynamic Business just to name a few.
Question: What are the low cost (or zero) marketing strategies that we can all, easily implement?
Jaclyn Bold: 1. Talking - walk your local business or shopping strip and meet the other business owners and their staff. Take an interest in what they do and if there are any opportunities to support each others clients. Best of all - It's FREE!
2. Networking events: Whilst the cost of a ticket and your time is required, the benefits of meeting people face to face and asking questions about them is priceless. Look at their body language, their appearance and their passion for their profession. Make sure you follow up with those you have met after the event.
3. A uniform. It does not have to be expensive or restrictive - just neat, tidy and effective. You can use a uniform supplier if desired or it could be as simple as buying your team matching shirts at a department store and having your logo screen printed or embroidered on them. When you consider how many place a person can go in one day, your uniform becomes a mobile billboard as well as anchoring your brand consistency.
4. Social Media - Facebook, You Tube, Pinterest, Linked In.... there are many more options too and at this stage they are free to use. Think about where your clients are and go and hang out online with them. Whilst you will need to invest some time to do this, there are no other costs necessary unless you want to advertise via these platforms.
5. Ask for referrals. Ask your friends, family and clients to refer others to your business. The reason most businesses don't get referrals is simply because they don't ask for them.
Question: How do low cost marketing strategies compare to big expensive campaigns?
Jaclyn Bold: There is always a pay off - when you have the money you can afford to spend big on marketing and also pay someone else to market for you. When you don't have that money you must do it yourself. While the financial cost is lower the cost in time is higher.
Many low cost marketing strategies are very effective. Like with all marketing it needs to be strategic and measured for effectiveness. The public knowledge and uptake of your business or service may be slower but it can still be very effective.
Question: When we do have marketing dollars, where should we look at spending it?
Jaclyn Bold: This needs to be a very strategic decision. Look at your brand, your clients and where you clients are coming from. You need to understand the demographic and psychographic of your prime clients to decide where to spend your marketing money. There is no one size fits all answer for this as it will be individual for each business.
Question: How can social media marketing work in our favour?
Jaclyn Bold: Social media is a great tool. Many people are still scared about putting their business on social media in case they get 'backlash' but they should take control of the reins and mould their online brand as best as possible. Your customers may be on social media and you should create and manage a profile where they do. It's not just about starting a social media account - you need to regularly update it and post great content.
On social media you can share great news about your business, advertise sales and promotions, encourage people to sign up to newsletters and mailing lists and tap into people you may never have come across. If a disgruntled client leave a less than glowing comment on your profile page - tackle it head on with diplomacy and the care and concern it deserves. No one is perfect and no business is perfect but the way you deal with a complaint from a customer online can also make others want to purchase from you if they can see that you are doing everything to rectify the situation.
Question: Can you talk us through your top tips for using social media as a marketing tool?
Jaclyn Bold: Jaclyn's 5 top tips for using social media
1. Know where your clients are and use those social media platforms
2. You don't need to be on every social media channel - you are better to choose 1 or 2 platforms and do them well.
3. Be consistent - regularly update your social media platform, A good starting point is three times a week and then increase the frequency as you become faster at managing the profiles.
4. Remember it is a business tool - no Friday night drinks photos, no bad language. A good rule of thumb is to only post content that you would be happy to see on the front page of the newspaper.
5. Use images, video and info graphics where possible rather than just text.
Question: How do you deal with bad feedback on social media platforms?
Jaclyn Bold: If you receive bad feedback you should respond to it. Don't delete it and pretend it did not happen. You don't need to air the dirty laundry of the transaction but comment on the post that you will call them, have left a message, want to fix the problem... show that you really do care, just like when a customer would come into your office with a complaint. Bad feedback handles well can turn fence sitters into clients.
Question: Why does a uniform help promote a business?
Jaclyn Bold: A uniform is a common reminder of where you and your staff are from. It turns you into a sleek looking group of walking billboards. Not only does it have great visual attraction when a client enters your office, it shows a clear path to speak to someone who can help them. It can also help a business to maintain a desired level of dress code.When out and about, lunch breaks, networking events, the supermarket after work, your uniform and the logo / information on it can be seen by people who would not normally come into contact with your business. It's about layering all different levels of brand awareness to keep your brand and business front of mond when a person requires your goods or services
Question: What is the idea behind networking?
Jaclyn Bold: Networking is all about building relationships. People do business with others they know, like and trust. Networking allows the first two parts of this equation to be grown - meeting people and getting to like people.
Networking is useful to find new contacts and build relationships. No one goes to a networking event to buy -so don't try and sell at a networking event. But don't be misled - networking does not have to be just at a formal business networking event. It can also be in the school playground, parents groups and weekend sports. Networking can happen anywhere.
Question: Do you have advice for how to network?
Jaclyn Bold: If possible it is great to network in pairs. Go to a networking event with a colleague who knows your business well. Each of you can take 1/2 the room and be listening for key indicators that would not only make a good connection for yourself but also for your colleague. If you meet a connection that would be good for your colleague, walk the connection over to your colleague and introduce them. This will make you colleague look good because 'they are known' and it makes you look good because 'you know people'. This is a very powerful sub conscious anchor that raises the perceived credibility of both of you. Not only that, but when your colleague does this in return, you may get to meet a connections that you would not have had the time to meet if you had attended the event individually.
Interview by Brooke Hunter