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Marketing on a shoestring!

6th August 2014 By Barry Walker in Small Business News

Barry Walker, PR and Marketing consultant gives ten ‘off the wall’ tips to marketing your business on a shoestring'.


Historically all traders in the UK only had to market to a small local area, as in the next village there was normally a similar business to yours that offered exactly what you did. Those businesses that did strive to develop wider markets or client bases, usually succeeded in doing so, often opening other branches of the same business.

The Internet has opened up new markets for many of us, making the global client base a thing of the current day. But lets assume your company has no effective marketing budget and you still want to grow your business. What can be done to ensure your business develops, with your client base growing and the turnover increasing on a month-by-month basis?

People do business with people they either like, trust or have a loyal relationship with. It also costs far more to get a new client than it does to keep an existing one. Hence keeping clients by using a proactive Customer Relationship Management tool is crucially important. Building relationships comes from face to face contact, although there are acceptations to the rule, where one will buy over the telephone or on World Wide Web, but that relationship is normally judged on price, with quality and delivery being important secondary considerations.

Your business has no dedicated marketing budget, so what should you do to promote your business that can be effective, fun and fruitful. The following ten tips may just make the difference you are seeking.

  1. Know where to sell - Define your market. It’s no use trying to appeal to a market sector that doesn’t want to buy from you. What is a typical client and what service does he want. Get the demographic right. This may also effect the location of your business.
  2. Know what to sell - Refine your product. Are you sure the products you are offering is the product your clients want to buy? Has your product got the right price point for the market you are targeting?
  3. Be different - What is your USP, your unique selling point? The more specialised you are, the less competition you have. The more products you offer, the less easy it is for your clients to make a choice. Look for a cash cow. This is the product that keeps your lights on, where there is a lot of stability, but perhaps little chance of development. Avoid cash dogs. These are products or projects that have little future, are a cash drain and can be ego driven. Do what you do best at all times.
  4. Fail to plan or plan to fail - Write a simple marketing strategy. This may even be a ‘back of a postcard’ scribble that says “make 10 new cold calls each week”. Once you have done this, stick to it and keep sticking to it. Write down all the things you can do to market your business and form a monthly strategy. Look at the strategy each month and if you can improve on it do so, especially as increased sales will give you a marketing budget.
  5. Every one is a salesman - If your budget is tight, set incentives for your clients and staff, rewarding them if they look for business for you. Every one knows somebody who may want to do business with you. If you have a delivery driver, when he goes to deliver to a customer, ask him to go into the two businesses either side of the customer. Introduce the company and leave some promotional literature on what it is you do. Get him to ask for a business card and put that info on a database. This can be used at a later date. Ask clients to recommend and reward them with a discount off the next purchase. Now you have a large sales force working for you.
  6. Stay in touch - Build a database from your current client base. Add to it from the contacts your delivery guys bring back each day, as well as the name your current customers recommend to you for their incentive. Now you have got a growing prospect and client list communicate each month by either: telephone (hi how are you), e-mail (latest sales promotion), quarterly newsletter (what’s happening in the company), direct mail (new products) or by sending a Christmas or Easter card (yo, ho, ho, I'm the Easter bunny).
  7. Networks - Join a business-networking organisation, to build a network of business referrers that can recommend you and potentially bring business to your business. There are many such organisations around such as: BNI, BRE, Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses, the Institute of Directors, Business Link and so on. Such business networks are relatively cheap to join and can quickly return high levels of good quality work.
  8. The ‘80-20 rule’ rules - 80% of your business will come from 20% of your clients. True. Don’t be afraid to either loose or ditch a bad client that doesn’t pay well or wont deliver good clean business. It means you now have room to bring on board new and more profitable business to take the place of the culled clients. Remember, you can work too hard for too little return.
  9. Don’t be too English - If you meet an American, he will inevitably introduce himself by saying, “Hi, my name is Bob, from Orlando, and I work in print consumables”. In the UK we will probably say “Hi, I’m Bob”. You don’t have to turn into a Yank, but be prepared to talk about your business and exactly what it is you do. Try to always think about your business and be prepared to give your ten-second ‘elevator speech’ where ever possible. The elevator speech is when you get in the lift with some one and they ask you what you do for a living. By the time you hit the basement they should know exactly what it is you do and be holding your business card.
  10. Don’t leave home with out them - Always, always, always carry your business cards with you. Be prepared to give them out, even at social functions (but do tread the fine line between being a business bore and an innovative networker). Those cards that you are given, write on the back where you met the giver, and a memorable thing about them. Put them onto a database package on your PC and ensure you ring the individual within a couple of days. Arrange to meet up for a drink, or meet at one or the others office. Ask how ‘we’ can do businesses together. You will be surprised how quickly the recommendations come flooding in, but ensure the flow of business is not just one-sided.

These ten quick tips will help you to market your business more effectively, especially if you have no marketing budget worth talking of. Put them in place and you will get new business and your business will grow. If you determined to succeed and prepared to put in the effort then these simple tips will prove more than effective. If, on the other hand, you feel that there are simply not enough hours in the day and you need a helping hand, call in a marketing professional. With the ROI it will more than pay for itself.

Email Barry for more information or advice.

Barry Walker
About the Author

Barry Walker

Managing Director at Blackchilli

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