For many, starting your own small business is the beginning of a rewarding career wherein you gain an empowered sense of control over your own life; you’re proverbially taking back the reins.
However, taking control also means you’re in charge of marketing your business - something that is often easier said than done. No more well-structured PR departments and marketing interns working their magic behind-the-scenes; this time around, it’s all on you.
Being in charge comes with a beautiful kind of creative freedom, and the ability to flex your artistic muscles, but it also involves making tough decisions. In the case of small businesses, money is not often an unlimited resource, so you’ll have to be smart about where you invest. Marketing is a valuable and necessary aspect of every business, no matter the size, so you should be prepared to factor in associated costs to the budget. A golden rule to keep in mind is that not all advertising strategies are created equal - some are definitely more effective than others. However, at the end of the day - there is no one way to market your business, and no “marketing shortcuts”. You need to invest appropriate time and energy into growing your business, or you won’t see the results you’re after. So do your research and choose wisely, then bask in the warm, inner glow of owning your very own business!
Marketing is largely divided into two distinct groups these days: digital and print. Both have their benefits and their downfalls, but it’s ultimately up to you to decide which avenues best suit your business’ needs. Below we break down some of the different ways you can promote your business, and maximise your impact.
There are harsh critics out there that will decry print media and forecast its demise, but in terms of advertising there are still plenty of lucrative ways to get your business noticed. The appeal of print media and a physical visual experience is far from dead, and is still an excellent way to gain traction for your business.
Advertising in print publications is a great way to subtly build brand recognition on a daily basis. Repeatedly exposing your consumer-base to your content and business, means that over time your audience will become familiar with you, and will be more likely to recall your business when required to. It also helps when customers have physical copies of your advertisements, saving them the time of searching again and again on the internet (and thus avoiding your competitors’ online ads along the way).
Magazines and newspapers also have the added advantage of specific demographics and readerships. The variety of publications available means that you can target your desired demographics more strategically and reach audiences that don’t regularly utilise the internet.
On the flipside, there’s digital advertising, which largely encompasses internet and social media marketing.
Internet advertising offers you a myriad of ways to get your content and your brand out there and to build recognition. Being strategic in your advertising methods, like creating native ads, is key with digital marketing. Failure to be thoughtful and targeted with your internet advertising can mean your content becomes lost amongst the sheer volume of ads jostling for attention in cyberspace. Gaining even a rudimentary understanding of sophisticated digital marketing techniques, such as SEO, is a major boost in nurturing your business’ success.
Social media marketing is quickly becoming the major player in both digital and overall marketing avenues, as the “feed” design of most social media apps works to seamlessly incorporate sponsored content into viewers’ experience. Advertising is expected and prevalent on social media apps, and most users aren’t bothered by it. Instagram in particular encourages brand recognition and engagement, as visual focus draws viewers in with image and video, rather than bulky chunks of text or links. It is essential in this day and age that your business have social media channels, and that you actively promote community engagement on your pages.
Oftentimes community radio stations will promote businesses that sponsor them and donate time, money or services. This can be an excellent way to not only prove your prowess and bankability; whilst gaining great exposure in your local neighbourhood or city. Hearing an honest and appreciative testimonial from a trusted community source inspires trust, and encourages potential customers to choose your business.
Building on the suggestion of community radio, sponsoring local events, clubs or organisations is a great way to build brand recognition in your local area. You’ll have the opportunity to liase with event organisers and officials, which in turn builds recognition and relationships. You’ll also receive large amounts of advertising and visibility, whilst helping to create a generous, reliable image.
Network, network, network
Ultimately, creating a successful business that has considerable longevity involves lots of networking. Whether or not you enjoy interacting with people, you will have to in order to grow your business. The positive impact of a strong network cannot be overstated, and even making a small effort with people can make a big difference. Furthermore, having professional, succinct business cards is an awesome way to establish credibility at networking events and in sealing professional partnerships. It also makes you appear incredibly organised and on the ball, and eliminates the need for the awkward exchange of details.