3 Practical Ways Small Businesses Can Reach New Customers
Running a small business is the epitome of the American Dream. As all owners know, navigating successfully through the various stages of business growth is directly tied to the process of reaching and acquiring new customers. Luckily these days, marketing a unique product or service doesn’t require a huge advertising budget.
Instead of spending big money on traditional forms of marketing, there are plenty of cheaper “guerrilla strategies” that work to provide useful information and relevant content to consumers in a more compelling fashion.
Without further ado, let’s discuss three effective ways you can expand your messaging to more interested eyes.
Partner With an Influencer
As a small business, you probably don’t have a giant digital audience or social media following just yet. Trying to gain traction early in the game is no easy task. Chances are, you will be spending a good deal of time crafting content for only a handful of people.
This is why hooking up with an influencer is one of the most beneficial marketing strategies out there. In fact, a recent survey reported that 94 percent of marketers (opens as a PDF) who used influencer marketing claimed it had a positive impact on their business.
An influencer is a prominent figure within a certain community who has a large fan following. This can be anyone like a popular blogger/vlogger; product or local business reviewer; politician, celebrity or even another business owner in your industry. In essence, they should be thought leaders whom people trust.
A great example of this tactic comes from Singapore-based restaurant Zafferano. In order to spread word of the establishment, the company partnered with a number of popular Instagrammers in the food and lifestyle category. They invited these people to the restaurant for a meal. In turn, the social media stars gushed about their food, as well as the gorgeous view from the 43rd story.
As a result, the campaign reached a combined audience of over 65,000 people and generated nearly 10,000 likes.
Influencer marketing can do great things for businesses. Before reaching out to a big name, be sure the person fits in with your target audience; although the influencer doesn’t necessarily need to be directly tied to your product or service. Let’s say you’re running a business that deals with boating equipment. An applicable audience might be high-end golfers or residents in a wealthy community. Try to find the common threads throughout certain audiences.
Mention is one social media listening tool that enables you to scour social networks to find the top influencers in a certain topic or field.
I believe the more you can disperse your messaging to relevant markets, the quicker your business will grow.
Focus on Educating Rather Than Selling
It’s no secret that the blatant sales tactics that worked 20 to 30 years can have little effect on today’s consumers.
The rise of the Internet has caused people to become relatively numb to pushy brand messaging. People don’t generally log on to their computers in search of advertisements. They are looking for solutions to their problems and to be educated on certain matters.
Even though the promotional aspect of marketing is important for small businesses, try to shift the bulk of your focus from constant selling to showcasing your expertise. Doing this successfully will lay the groundwork to becoming a thought leader in your industry. More importantly, it will help build trust.
In addition to producing informative content, such as blogs or instructional videos, there are plenty of ways to bring your messaging to the next level. For example, if you consider yourself an expert in your field, a good way to use your knowledge is to educate others through interactive courses.
Regardless of what industry you are in, there is likely a market of people who want to empower themselves and learn the ropes. And teaching an online course is much easier than you think. Tools like Kajabi make this process simple for even the least tech-savvy users.
Become Your Own Publicist
In the early stages of running a business, you probably don’t have the budget to hire a publicist, or have the time to look through hundreds of websites for publicity options.
One of the best parts about conducting business today is that there are all kinds of tools out there which set you up with the means to succeed. In terms of gaining publicity early on, there is a plethora of solutions that don’t involve pitching story ideas to countless newspapers and media outlets.
For starters, get involved with guest blogging. While some people will tell you this concept is “dead,” there are a lot of ways to optimize your efforts to make it worthwhile.
“Relevancy is more important than traffic.”
– Neil Patel
When you choose platforms to guest post on, shoot for the stars. Try to get your content posted on the sites with the largest audience possible. But be sure to keep it relevant to your niche. If you are an SEO agency like ours, showcasing your knowledge on a site like BuzzFeed isn’t going to do much good. In this case, you would want to target relevant sites like Target Marketing, Search Engine Land or Moz.
Another great way to build your credibility is to be quoted as an expert source. If the mainstream media trusts a business owner, chances are consumers will, too. Sites like HARO or PitchRate are great for connecting with media professionals and journalists, and build win-win relationships with them by providing them with timely and relevant content for stories or topics on which they happen to be working.
These free tools are meant to help reporters in need of sources. If they are writing about your niche and need an expert quote, you could potentially land a full-scale interview with a huge media outlet.
Getting your name in front of thousands of eyes is much easier than it used to be. Do yourself a favor and take advantage of the tools at your fingertips.
There’s no denying that small businesses will always be facing an uphill battle to gain new customers. One of the hardest parts of the process is establishing a reputation as an industry force to be reckoned with. The key is to be persistent and open to new ideas. Combining these traits with readily available digital resources will give you almost everything you need to set yourself up for success.
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Rohan Ayyar is the regional marketing manager for India at SEMrush. His blog, The Marketing Mashup, covers digital marketing from the perspective of B2B, B2C, lead generation, mobile marketing, SEO, social media, content marketing, database marketing including predictive analytics, and conversion rate optimization. In addition, he'll look at emerging marketing technology and how marketers can use it. Reach Ayyar at firstname.lastname@example.org.