Marketing a small business is challenging. Budgets are limited and getting the word out can seem like an overwhelming - if not impossible - task.
Leigh Mitchell, president of the Women in Biz Network , has some cost-effective tips for marketing your company in the early stages, when taking out large ads and sponsoring big events may not be in the cards.
1. Get out and network. Rule of thumb: attend at least four events per month. Nothing is more effective to building relationships than by meeting face to face. People like to do business they know, like and trust.
2. Learn about your customers through online tools like Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics using programs like Hootsuite. Based on your research, does you communication strategy engage fans in meaningful ways?
3. The explosion of social media networks has changed the way your customers will discover and interact with your company. Maintain brand consistency across all platforms you use to market your company, be it Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
4. Consider a blog for your business and if inspiration strikes, try to blog three times a week. Better yet, get people you respect and admire to contribute.
5. Don't try to be all things to all people. Look for a specific segment that is under serviced. What can your business offer them that others can't?
6. Look for synergies with other business owners even if they seem like competition. When you join forces with other organizations you have a more powerful voice.
7. Provide reliable and transparent customer service and collect customer endorsements.
8. Always hunt for opportunities to get media coverage over paid advertisements. Media coverage provides more credibility and awareness to your business.
9. Look for opportunities for interview local "celebrities" or secure endorsements for your web site (in order to drive traffic to your web site). Most people are honoured to be interviewed and will share the link. Don't be afraid to ask!
10. Keep artwork clean and simple on your marketing materials. Never under estimate the power of white space and the classic line 'less is more' in your promotional pieces.
Tips like these will be presented to small business owners and entrepreneurs at the Women in Biz Conference in Toronto on May 30, 2011.