With so many big and well established brands competing for market share online, it can be a daunting task for the small business to find a marketing strategy or SEO tactic that is going to give them any edge on the web.
This is true for standard marketing and media buys as well as for organic search engine ranking.
Not to despair, there are always opportunities to build a stable business online. Small business, especially local business can be very nimble compared to the larger business.
As a result, they can often get closer to their target market a lot easier than the big brands can. They can also negotiate and partner a lot quicker than big brands.
Here are three marketing tactics that won’t break the bank, but might just help you brainstorm a way to break free of the, “little man mold”.
Low Cost Tactic 1: "Friends with Benefits"
This tactic requires you to think laterally about your industry. Rather than look at your customer or competition, look around at those industries and services that somehow compliment or contribute to your own.
How can you engage their services to promote your own and increase your own brand exposure?
Example: A new hair salon targeting 18-35 year old females
Combine your hair salon service with a service that every girl in this demographic is looking for when they get married: A Hire car service. Find a local, perhaps reasonably, new hire car service that would like a bit of exposure themselves.
Offer to advertise their service in your salon in exchange for a free limo ride once a week to a lucky group booking in your salon.
The offer is a free Limousine ride to and from the salon, won by draw, when you you book yourself and three other friends for a salon treatment.
Submit a local press release to promote the idea within your community and at the same time increase the exposure of both business. Run the campaign on the Social Media Platforms of both businesses as well.
Who are the friends and neighbours in your niche? How can you collaborate with them?
Low Cost Tactic 2: "Industry Press Release Services - with a Twist"
OK, so it's hardly groundbreaking, but it is still powerful and still free. The trick, in my opinion, is not to write the release yourself but to find someone in a related niche who will write about it for you. Let the marketing become their problem.
Example: Utilise an Industry News Columnist or Blogger
I once came across a retail industry news site that seemed to publish a lot of articles on online retail start ups that were offering something unique. I was running an online ecommerce store at the time that sold traditional board games, many hand made, from all over the world.
The unique concept was that we went back to the countries in which the games originated and asked those artists to make their game, their own, authentic way.
I approached the retail news site about our products and offered to do an interview. The editor liked our unique angle, wrote up the interview and published our store as "retailer of the week".
We got huge traffic and from the article which is still on their site 5 years later. All I did was find a unique angle for our product and answer the questions.
What makes your product or service stand out? Find a new angle and exploit it.
Low Cost Marketing Tactic 3: "Talk, Talk Talk... to Influencers"
Every industry has it's influencers, and they are all hanging out online... influencing. You should know who they are if they are in your industry. Having the courage to reach out and talk to them can have surprisingly good results if you are genuine, humble and honest.
Example: "Infographic and Rich Media Sharing"
Infographics don't cost anything except your time. I use Canva. It's free and gives great results.
I am no designer, but not long ago I put together a cheeky article, "First Page of Google, and How I get my Clients there", and then created a fairly simple infographic to go with it.
Luckily, the article went to the first page of Google and is still there - otherwise this would have been a monumental flop! I then managed to put that infographic under the noses of some big names in my industry - the web marketing industry.
Two of them took it up and published it on the front page of their SEO website.
The results of such a high profile marketer taking up my humble infographic had almost immediate results. The link back to my site also meant that my cheeky article remained on Google's first page.
To this day, that article, along with the organic traffic and the referral traffic from that influencer is the number one source of new clients for my business.
What content do you have that you could re-purpose? Do you have a video you could turn into an article? An article you could turn into an e-book?
Whatever your niche, there are always fresh ways to market your brand online. From the personal and contactable nature of your customer service, to the partnerships you form with other small business, there are ample opportunities to create new marketing channels for your business.
Startup marketing requires brainstorming. it requires getting together with friends and business neighbours and collaborating. it requires patience, testing and a commitment to the task.
Big brands are investing big money into their online reputation and marketing and the cost of doing business online has gone up considerably the last five years.
But it doesn’t have to cost a bomb. Grab a pencil and paper and see how your new start up can put these marketing tactics to work for you online.
By David Trounce, Founder of Mallee Blue Media.
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