It is widely believed that small businesses have a one in 10 chance of survival, and ineffective marketing makes your odds far less than that. Your foray into any business endeavour is an arduous enough step to take, and a lack of knowledge on how to effectively promote your enterprise exacerbates your fear and uncertainty about the future.
It makes failure the likelier outcome of what could otherwise be the beginnings of an impactful success story. While marketing costs could suck up the initial capital of a small business, there are relatively inexpensive modes of getting word out about your business in a manner that generates the desired response from your target audiences.
I enumerate below a few of such strategies that could catalyse your attempts at reaching the right people and progressively build a growing base of customers whose patronage would be vital to sustaining your enterprise.
Leverage the internet. This may seem an obvious thing to do, but very few small businesses have properly harnessed the power of the internet in advancing their businesses. Leveraging the internet would include all such things as E-mail marketing, social media advertising, creating a website or a blog. E-mail marketing involves collecting the e-mail addresses of as many potential customers as you can and sending them commercial messages in the form of advertisements, requests for business and sales solicitation for your products and services.
Social media advertising utilises social networks such as WhatsApp broadcast lists, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snap-Chat to deliver paid ads (often starting from a minimum of $1.00) to specific target audiences using their demographic information. It is also possible to create a good but inexpensive website that showcases your range of products and services, and this website could be using Google Ads for greater online visibility. Small food businesses could easily increase their reach and scope of operations by leveraging platforms such as Bolt Food and Glovo; Professional educators or trainers could easily reach wider audience or sell the materials remotely via zoom, Microsoft Teams and other such platforms.
Engage in Thought Leadership. Thought leadership is the expression of ideas or thoughts that demonstrate your knowledge or expertise in a particular field, area or topic. This requires the disciplined pursuit of knowledge and information regarding the sector your business of concerned with. This would enable you to speak authoritatively on issues that relate directly to your business on a variety of public and non-commercial platforms (like a television program, a social or community event or even on social media), naturally positing you as an individual or business who possesses expert knowledge on what you are doing.
Indeed, professional services providers such as Auditors, Lawyers, Architects, etc, who are ethically restrained from publicly advertising their services engage in a lot of thought leadership activities and that inevitably serves to increase their stature and public reputation for mastery in their fields. Similarly, food business owners could speak on the nutrition needs of a variety of age groups, while educational entrepreneurs could offer knowledge and information on trends in education of effective child learning methods.
Partner Other Businesses. This involves leveraging the strengths other businesses who operations offer the relevant complements to advancing your small business’ objectives. It includes placing your products on the shelves of a supermarket or in local stores who sell for you at a commission. Such partnerships do not only help you sell your products but also generates visibility and gets your products exposed to a wide array of audiences. It is also beneficial to align your business with other entities that are amenable to outsourcing some business to you or joining forces with you to execute projects in a mutually beneficial manner. Closely related to this is the creation of Affiliate Marketing programs, a type of performance based marketing that rewards allied businesses who bring in customers into your business through their own marketing efforts.
Customer Referral Programs. A referral program is a word-of-mouth marketing tactic that encourages and rewards existing customers to advocate on behalf of your brand. This would invariably motivate customers who are minded to rope in people from their spheres of influence in anticipation of whatever rewards they might get. An additional measure is to offer incentives to your staff (otherwise known as internal customers) since they could also be worthy advocates of your brand and its products. Given that small businesses seldom offer appreciable wages or salaries; this is one cogent avenue to incentivise employees while simultaneously getting them to be more productive.
Offer a Unique Selling Proposition. Many small businesses start on the hinges of merely joining the bandwagon of what appears to be the hot passion of the day. Others offer fantastic and unrealistic incentives just to draw in customers. These only make your business journey transient; significantly diminishing your chances of growth and market impact. The odds of your success are often better served by your disciplined pursuit of your uniquely honed idea targeted at particular audiences. Your difference becomes another line of attraction to customers and essentially precludes you from being perceived as just another version, all others in the marketplace.
Joining Local business Groups and Associations. Such local business groups are places where small business owners share ideas and draw lessons from each other’s experiences in a manner that advances their mutual interests. It is also an avenue for small business owners to collectively achieve a measure of control over market forces and in unison negotiate favourable terms of engagement with statutory bodies on a wide range of mutually relevant concerns principally among these being the issues of taxes, levies and concessionary funding for their activities.
These strategies though not completely exhaustive are strong marketing building blocks to give your small business a solid foundation that puts it well on the path to soaring high into orbit and dramatically increasing its odds of success.
By: Muniru Husseini , the writer is a Marketing Strategist and Lecturer.
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