How to promote your business
“Build it and they will come” just doesn’t ring true in business. You’ll need a sales and marketing strategy to bring customers to you. There are hundreds of things you could do. The trick is to pick the right ones.
Strategy vs tactics in marketing
It’s important to get strategies and tactics the right way around. Your strategy is the master plan that guides all your marketing activity. Tactics are the activity. They’re the things that people see like ads, emails, videos, sales promotions.
Start with a strategy
It’s important to come up with your strategy first. Go back to your business plan. Look at the SWOT analysis and your market research, and boil that down to three core things:
Once you know who you’re selling to, you can start trying to influence them. Choose channels that are most likely to reach your key audience, and use messages that resonate with those people.
Marketing ideas to promote your business
Once you know who you’re talking to, where you need to reach them, and what you need to say, you can make smart marketing choices. Here are just some of the things you could do – but don’t spread yourself too thin.
Try a couple at a time and see what works. If the results aren’t there, experiment with something else. You’re probably already wondering how you’ll start a business with hardly any money; the last thing you need is to waste cash on ineffective marketing. You’re better off doing just a few things really well.
Brainstorm as many ideas as you like, but only act on two or three things at a time or you'll run out of energy.
Create a free listing with Google
Set yourself up at Google My Business to improve results when people Google businesses like yours.
Get active on social media
You can try to build a following by putting out interesting content, or you can pay to push ads and posts to specific audiences. But be careful not to spam. Check out our guide to the golden rules of social media.
Use SEO to attract prospects to your site
To build a website that shows up when people search for the products or services you sell, you’ll need to use the right keywords and get other sites to link back to you. But the payoff can be big. Find out more in our guide to SEO for small business.
Share your expertise
Create articles, videos or podcasts with useful or interesting information and use them to bring people to your site. Learn more about content marketing.
Offer tutorials or webinars
Offer to guide prospects through an issue or a problem for free. You can do it in person, on a video call, or via a webinar.
Gather the email addresses of customers and prospects and send them useful news. Be careful not to overdo it and, if you’re sending emails to Europe, make sure you follow GDPR regulations.
Ask for referrals or testimonials from happy customers
Positive reviews from real people count for a lot. A study of more than 1,000 consumers found that three out of four consumers trust a business more after reading a positive review.
Let customers see how good your product or service is by giving away free samples. If you’re a consultant, make up a nice certificate for one hour of your time for free.
Interact with prospects, in person or online. Don’t forget to put time into old relationships too. There may already be people in your network who can help build your business.
If you have a cool story, see if a local paper, radio station, or trade magazine wants to cover it. A public relations (PR) agency or freelancer could help.
Ads can be anything from a poster on a bus stop, to a video on social media. Choose the right place for your audience and keep your message as simple as possible.
Stick them in residential mailboxes or hand them out in the street to promote a local business. It often helps to include a special offer, such as a discount or two-for-one.
Put in the time to promote your business
Schedule at least an hour a day on promotional activities. Spend some of that time reviewing what’s working and what’s not.
There’s nothing wrong with trying something different and finding that it didn’t work. But it’s important to cut your losses when something isn’t performing well.
And don’t forget to steer some of your marketing effort toward your existing customers. It’s a lot easier to keep a customer than to attract a new one. But you have to show them some love. Demonstrate your appreciation for their business from time to time.