Activate your thinking with these seven low-cost, no cost ideas relevant to your marketplace whether you run your business from home, retail on a main street or shopping mall or trade online. Learn how to position your products and services in a price-driven environment.
In tough, competitive markets, businesses need to come up with fresh ways to promote their products and services. Promotions attract attention to your products and services, help make them stand out from your competitors and give your sales a much-needed boost when customers are looking for strong reasons why they should buy from you.
Rethink your positioning
Some entrepreneurs think promotions mean discounts. They baulk at offering discounts when sales are down more than a third on the previous year, and larger chains are offering incredibly low-priced deals. Promotion doesn’t have to equal discounts. Assess the value of your offer, the quality of your service and guarantee. Think low costs, high impact.
How can you change your offer to a market that is cautious about spending? If you have been selling expensive products and services in the good times, you’ll need to rethink your strategy in a price-driven environment. Your marketing materials also need to reflect and reinforce your cost-value proposition.
Think through your positioning strategy carefully because positioning moves are like those you make on a chessboard. Your move may prompt your competitors to make counter moves. So you need to think about not only your next move but the one you’ll need to make after your competitors have responded to your repositioning.
Quick promotional ideas brainstorm
Use idea generation tools and techniques to come up with new ideas to promote your business. Brainstorm ideas and keep them in a notebook, a journal or on record cards (3 x 5 cards). Choose your best three and try one out.
Check what other businesses are doing by reading magazines, dropping in on stores unrelated to your business and speaking to business people you trust. Listen to customers because they can be your best source of promotional idea.
Gold in mailing lists
Do you have a customer mailing list with both postal and e-mail addresses? How quickly can you mail out a special offer to your customers? A physical sales letter is personalised and can stand out in a crowded market.
Consider acquiring marketing “assets” from businesses that are closing down. Perhaps they have a customer mailing list that you can purchase for a fraction of the cost it took the original business to acquire. Such a list is valuable because it represents people who have bought products before — and may need your products or service.
Social media strategy
Social media such as FaceBook, Twitter and other Internet-based social networking offer low-cost promotional opportunities. But you need to know what you are doing. You must know how to promote your business without turning off prospects. You need to devote time to keep your content fresh. Will your social media marketing provide any follow through for conversion? A FaceBook page may not convert any new business but customers may ask why you don’t have one.
Professionalise your communications
Poorly written and designed marketing materials are a recipe for disaster. Getting in well-meaning family members, friends and secretaries to write with no knowledge of business or marketing is just plain short-sighted. Even blogs for small businesses can be better handled by a professional copywriter or ghostwriter. You may especially need such services if you are in your store or business the whole day and can’t find the time to write blog posts and publish them. You also need to learn how to promote your blog because there are gazillions of then out there (get a number for how many blogs there are).
Network face to face
Networking with your customers at your local chamber or commerce or business organisation is often the last thing on the entrepreneur’s mind. But it provides a strong opportunity to promote your business face to face. Think carefully about driving customers to your business through FaceBook, Twitter or LinkedIn when you aren’t even doing some direct selling by calling on businesses in your town or city.
A low-cost prospecting idea
While everyone is blasting out e-mails, FaceBook posts and Tweets, track down names that you spot in newspapers, magazines and even advertising flyers if you think those people will make good prospects. Call them or pay them a visit — personal contact will stand out from the electronic blizzard.
Arrange a promotional ideas swop meet
Share your promotional ideas with your fellow business people. Perhaps organise an idea swap meet group which involves meeting like-minded business people once a month to share new sales and promotional ideas that have worked.
Promotion helps your products and services jump out in a competitive, tight marketplace. By generating your own promotional ideas, you may not only save costs but you will breath life into your sales when your business needs it most.
“Marketing on a Shoestring: Low-cost Tips for Marketing your Products or Services”, Jeffrey Davidson, Wiley Small Business
“Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind”, Al Ries and Jack Trout, Warner Books