Small business owners sometimes underestimate the importance of reputation and name recognition when it comes to getting customers and growing their businesses. They also may believe that "brand building" is a costly strategy that is beyond their reach financially. In reality, getting your business known may cost it little, but pay off big. Consider these strategies for marketing your business and building your brand at little or no cost.
Become Active in Your Community
Becoming known as a good citizen in your community is important for a small business, since many customers or potential customers prefer to do business with local businesses if possible. Being active with local service organizations, sponsoring a sports team, or hosting a fundraiser for a nonprofit not only will allow you to become involved with good causes, but can create valuable networking opportunities for your business.
Join Local Business Organizations
Joining local business organizations can be advantageous to you and your business in a number of ways. First, a local business group is a great place to meet other entrepreneurs, some of whom may become friends, advisers, or mentors. Second, it can help to give your business a higher profile in the local business community and build its name recognition. And third, you may meet potential customers at organization meetings or make contacts who can refer customers to you.
Become Known as an Expert
Becoming known as an expert in your field is an ideal way to heighten awareness of your business, burnish its reputation, and attract customers. Ways to accomplish this goal include: Make yourself available to local newspaper reporters when they need information about a development in your field (and returning their calls promptly) so that they will quote you in their articles; teach a class; write articles for professional journals or trade publications (and then send copies to customers and potential customers); seek opportunities to speak to local groups or to be a guest on local radio or television shows.
Write a Newsletter
Creating a newsletter that highlights new developments in or interesting information about your industry as well as your company's activities can be a terrific way to communicate regularly with customers, vendors, lenders, and other constituents. Make a habit of collecting email addresses as you network for your business and of asking if you can add them to your newsletter email list.
Use Your Website as a Marketing Tool
Create a website for your company (if you don't already have one) and keep it updated and timely. Use it to raise your business's profile. At the most basic level, a website can be used to provide practical information about your company, such as its location, telephone number, email address, products, services, management team, and so on. But don't stop there. Your website can also be a powerful marketing tool for your business if you use it to highlight the business's outreach activities, including its media exposure, latest newsletter, and community involvement, and the business-related speeches you've made and articles you've written.
Get on the Social Media Bandwagon
Social media is increasingly important as a way for small businesses to communicate with their constituents. Learn how to use these tools to get your message out to customers and others.
Most of us think of networking in relation to job hunting or career advancement, but it also can be an excellent way for you to gain recognition for your company and to find new customers.
Susan Ward, sbinfocanada.about.com , Marketing Strategies to Get Known - Marketing Strategies
Kelley Robertson, sbinfocanada.about.com , Marketing Strategies to Attract New Business
More from S. H. Wallick:
Small Business 101: Writing an Employee Handbook
The Value of a Self-Employed 401k to a Small Business
Tips for Deciding on a Financing Source for Your Small Business
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