Advertising can be a vicious cycle. You can’t make a profit from increasing your business if you don’t advertise, and you can’t advertise unless you have the budget from making a profit.
As a small business owner or entrepreneur, what are you to do?
You can advertise on a limited budget by being creative and utilizing tools you already have.
- Build on Your Current Customer Base
- Self-produce Your Own Commercials/Infomercials
- Optimize Social Media
Word of mouth is the easiest and least expensive form of advertising. It will never go out of style and is not in danger of going the wayside. Think about it: If every customer you have convinces one person to use your product or service, you double your customer base!
You can encourage loyal customers to advertise your business in several ways. After closing a sale, ask a satisfied customer to leave a review on Yelp, Google, Facebook, or wherever you list your business online.
You might also offer some type of perk for referrals, such as a discount on their next visit or a free offer. You’ll recover the minimal, up-front cost from the additional business.
Gone are the days of reserving a fancy studio with a lavish set and hiring an expensive production crew. Your cellphone or computer, good lighting, and a quiet room are all you need to create a quality video.
Find topics that will interest your customer base, such as demonstrations of your product, how-to videos, and product reviews or customer testimonials.
Write an outline or script before you start recording to stay organized and to avoid rambling or stuttering. Keep the videos short — under two minutes. If a topic requires more time to present, create a series or multi-part videos. Not only will this keep your audience’s interest, but they will look forward to the next installment.
You can post your videos online by creating a YouTube channel linked to your business website. You can also share the link or simply repost the video on other social media channels, like Instagram or Facebook. One thing to remember is to have a consistent posting schedule. That way your customers will know when to look for new material.
Although you can utilize paid advertising on social media, you should have a business account on all appropriate social media channels. Use these free accounts to keep your current customers engaged in your business. Loyal customers — or fans — can then share the content with others.
Be sure your message and tone are suitable for each social media outlet. LinkedIn posts should be more formal and professional. Facebook posts can be more casual. Both can be used to communicate detailed or lengthy information to your customers.
Social media channels like Instagram and Twitter can be more informal and lighthearted. With the character limits and the nature of the channels, you might use them to communicate limited offers or quick messages.
As mentioned before, consistency in posting is key. Set up a schedule and stick to it so that customers will always look forward to what’s new.
As you begin to build your customer base and your business, you can start setting a higher advertising budget each year. However, as you venture into more expensive media, continue to use these more economical alternatives to not alienate the audiences you’ve built.