Running marketing for a small business can often be more challenging than running a marketing department for a larger company. Why? Well, first of all, your marketing budget will be a lot smaller. Due to this fact, you’ll often be expected to take on some of these responsibilities on your own. For instance, a one-person startup will have an entrepreneur also tending to social media pages, handling SEO issues, and directly interacting with clients.
Now, keep in mind that while a budget is a limitation, there’s so much that you could do for free if you only had the knowledge and motivation. To show you just how many options you have available, here are the top five free marketing ideas for your small business to thrive.
1. Start Google My Business Profile
Starting in any local business registry is a great way to put your business on the map. Let’s face it, in 2022, the first impulse of anyone who hears about your business is to look you up online. Sure, if they’re interested, they can read about you later on, but for the time being, all they need is some basic info. On the Google My Business snippet, they’ll see the photo of your company’s logo or headquarters, your contact info, your open hours, etc.
Remember that this is a handy reminder even for those who already did business with you. People forget addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers (even today, some people are just too lazy to save them in contacts right away). In the end, if you have no presence on Google My Business, to a lot of people, it will be as if your business doesn’t exist.
2. Learn Some Local SEO Tricks
SEO optimization is a complex task that’s best left to professionals. That being said, you would be surprised at just how many small SEO tweaks you could adopt to make your business far more efficient. Now, to become a real SEO expert, you would need hours upon hours of courses, as well as months upon months (if not years) of practice. For the current needs of your business, even access to free online materials and free marketing tools could be a great start.
The reason behind this is quite simple – about 81% of all your buyers (both online and offline) first check you out online. This is what makes local SEO and local mobile SEO, in particular, so effective. You see, SEO directly determines your visibility and trustworthiness. People have a natural inclination to put more trust in No.1 SERPs result than they do in a result appearing later on (or on the second page).
3. Utilize the Power of Your Social Media Profiles
Your social media platforms are your direct line of communication with the outside world. Fortunately, for a small business, there’s so much potential for unique and engaging conversation. For instance, depending on your field, you can start a conversation on a controversial topic and have people engaged in the conversation. Second, you could heavily rely on the UGC (user-generated content) as a form of additional social validation.
Keep in mind that social media profiles can also be used to humble brag (or display your professional authority, to be more formal). For instance, one of the most brilliant examples of dental marketing would be a side-by-side comparison of before and after work. This is especially true with procedures like whitening or plaque removal, where the difference is striking right away. In some other industries, like if you’re running a cleaning service, you could just as easily provide a before and after photo.
4. Using Social Proof
Even though we’ve previously mentioned the importance of displaying your results, the truth is that people are more interested in customer satisfaction than anything else. If anything, they care about the opinions of your other customers, seeing as how they’re the ones that your audience relates to. So, getting reviews, testimonials, etc., are just some of the things that you need to fixate on as early on as possible.
Other than just using this kind of social proof, you could look for something more formal. For instance, getting a badge or a certificate that you can display is a great validation of your legitimacy. Think of it as an equivalent of a blue check on Instagram. Once it is there, people are going to start taking you far more seriously, and it will be clear to anyone that they’re dealing with your official page.
5. Word of Mouth Marketing
Although we live in a digital world, the truth is that people still trust other people the most. Whenever they see a review online, even if it’s written in plain language and has a photo next to it, there’s a part of them that will still suspect it to be a fabrication. It’s not unheard of that marketers (or even permanent staff members) would post reviews to boost their company’s ratings. However, a recommendation coming from a real person, in a live conversation or via chat, is something else entirely.
Things get even more impactful, seeing as how this recommendation usually comes from someone close to you. A small business usually works on a limited territory, which means that the chances that your customers and potential customers know each other personally might be significant. Hearing a recommendation from a stranger is quite valuable. However, hearing it from a friend, a neighbor, or a relative is more impactful. Encourage this spread of information as much as you can.
Finally, it’s important to mention the fact that these are not just free. They’re also fairly quick to implement. As simple solutions, they don’t require any kind of complex business infrastructure, so you could start implementing them as soon as today.
Just remember that, like any business-related activity, it might take a while for these actions to give the desired effect. So, arm yourself with patience and keep analyzing the performance of your marketing campaign. Comparing these results over time is the only way to ensure that you’re on the right course.