You already have 3 of the 4 P’s of marketing: product, price, and place. Now, it’s time to promote. How do you reach new customers and convince them they should spend money with you? For small business owners, here are 6 ways you can market your local business at little to no cost.
Not only is social media free, it’s also key for gaining new customers and engaging your most loyal ones for your small business. Almost 90 percent of marketers say social media has increased exposure for their business. Social media can help you connect directly with old and new customers. It can also help ensure your local business stays on their radar and top of mind when they need your products and/or services.
Understand the special strengths of each social media channel—for example, Instagram is best for visual content like images, LinkedIn for professional networking, and Nextdoor for local happenings and recommendations—before coming up with a social media marketing strategy.
Nextdoor is a neighborhood hub designed to build local communities online, from local businesses, public agencies, and residents. With its emphasis on local, Nextdoor offers local marketing tools specific for helping local small business owners increase their online presence in their neighborhoods. You can set up a free Business Page in your neighborhood to gather recommendations for all your neighbors to see, and grow your brand via word of mouth.
2. Blog content customers find useful
Blogging is great for sharing high-quality information about your small business, product, and news. Plus, behind-the-scenes stories can help customers feel like insiders of your local business.
To make your content useful, start by thinking about your target audience. What does your ideal customer want to know? What day-to-day challenges do they face? And how can you help solve their problems for them?
Plan your posts around answering these questions. Share your content on social media and through your email list. Also, reach out to other business owners and influencers to get their opinions. Tap into their networks to get your content to new customers.
You can bring additional eyes to your site by following SEO or local search engine optimization best practices. Great SEO will ensure search engines keep finding your site and directing potential customers to your small business.
3. Make sure customers can find you on Google
According to Pew Research Center, 91% of online adults use search engines to find information online. So it’s vital your small business is listed on Google Maps. Simply Google search for your local business listing and claim it, which you can do with a free Google My Business account. If your business listing doesn’t appear, add it as a place to Google Maps and then claim the local listing.
Make sure to list a phone number with your local area code. Google flags toll-free 800 and 877 numbers because they’re often used for spam. Having a local phone number helps your small business rank higher in Google Maps and verifies for customers your local business actually is local.
4. Email your customers directly
There’s good reason to share news, sales, and upcoming events straight from the horse’s mouth. Customers can receive the most accurate information about your local business. Just as importantly for you, email marketing earns $38 for every $1 spent.
Encourage new customers to join your email list through perks like a loyalty program with rewards.
But make sure your content is timely, relevant, and valuable. Otherwise, you might risk your email marketing being marked as junk mail.
5. Don’t underestimate word of mouth
According to Brightlocal, nearly 90 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses before checking them out. So online reviews of your small business can go a long way toward bringing new customers your way.
Encourage customers to share their experiences on sites that feature local business reviews like Nextdoor, where 67% of members share recommendations with one another.
6. Participate in your local community
For starters, join your Chamber of Commerce and small business associations. Not only will these be great for networking, but you can also show you’re investing in your local area by supporting all local businesses.
Also use events like Small Business Saturday (during Thanksgiving weekend) to connect even more with your local community. Engage with other business owners to increase collective visibility for all local businesses. Launch sales and special events, with offers like special one-day discounts or raffle drawings to increase foot traffic.
Finally, use this chance to prepare for long-term marketing strategies throughout the year. Collect the contacts of every new customer for email marketing, social media, or direct mail so you can keep reaching them after the event.