The COVID-19 crisis has had a wide reaching impact across all aspects of business operations. One area specifically tricky for business owners now is marketing. How do you create a marketing or sales campaign when rules for operations often keep changing? Traditional paid advertising campaigns, large events and sponsorships are out the window for most.
With revenues potentially drastically reduced, how do you successfully promote your operations with a much smaller marketing budget? Following are seven creative and inexpensive ideas to market your business — and most importantly, ideas that are nimble allowing you to modify on the fly.
If you haven’t already, spend some time setting up a business account across the major social media channels — and don’t forget emerging or alternative platforms like TikTok and Vine. These platforms are free, flexible and scalable, with nearly limitless opportunities to grow your audience without any additional cost. You can investigate things like paid Facebook posts and ads once you are up and running, but the beauty is these options are completely free to get started.
Make the Most of Your Social:
– You may already have a robust social media presence with strong Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. But, are you doing all you can with that presence? One of the easiest ways to expand that footprint is to research and identify affiliate or interest groups that apply to your business. For example, is your restaurant a member of and active in any neighborhood groups? These are a good opportunity to quickly promote things like special hours or offers that are harder to pre-plan.
– Join in hashtag trends — Spend some time perusing the various social media accounts of businesses in your space or brands you admire. Are they taking advantage of recurring or special trends? If your day spa isn’t posting offers for #WellnessWednesday or a gym isn’t taking advantage of #MotivationMonday, you could be missing out on potential new customers who may find you just based on their desire for information about these topics.
– Cross tag others with complementary customers — If your business is located in a regional shopping center, tag the location in your posts; you may find customers seeking information about the latest updates at their favorite shopping spot.
Get Smart About SEO:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of your most powerful and free tools. While there are many companies that will charge you to assist with this, there are several ways you can make you easier to find and stand out with more business than ever being done online.
– Make sure you have the basics covered — In your web site and Google Maps listing, don’t forget to double check that things like a full description of your business include important keywords for indexing (for example, instead of just restaurant, be sure to include “Mexican” or “Sushi” and key dishes you are famous for)
– Double check the address specifics — Seems trivial, but small things like an incorrect suite number of wrongly mapped pin can turn off a customer if they can’t find your operations. Spending time checking everything in your location can help reduce lost business and doesn’t cost a dime.
Run a Free Online Webinar:
Prior to COVID these were already a smart tool to capture eyeballs without requiring attendees to actually travel anywhere nor did they require you to have space to host an event. Now, more than ever, Webinars/Zoom presentations are the new normal for information dissemination. Determine a topic of interest to your potential customers (for example, new home loan options if you are a mortgage broker), create a simple ‘event’ link through something like Facebook and promote through social, your email marketing campaigns, employee word of mouth, etc. Any participants can be a potential new customer and the effort cost you nothing but your time.
Create Mini Versions of Your Popular Products or Services:
It may be a challenge to bring in a new customer for a completely new HVAC system if they aren’t familiar with your brand. But, if you first introduce them to your company and services through a smaller commitment service or offer such as a summertime A/C tuneup, they may be more likely to call you for a quote when that larger need comes through. Similar to the concept of a “loss leader” in retail sales, develop a group of “Mini” services or programs that a potential new customer can try with minimum commitment, then positioning them to be an easier acquisition target for more services down the line.
Make Your Email a Living Marketing Tool:
Does your email account have a signature? Do you make the most of it? Look at keeping your email signature fresh with updated links on special offers or programs or seasonal campaigns. Refreshing the signature is a free and regular way to add a targeted message to everyone you communicate with electronically.
Don’t Forget to Reward Loyalty:
If you don’t already have a loyalty or frequent customer program, now is the time to set one up! You don’t need a fancy app or rewards card (although those can be very effective) — Even something as simple as a points system through your online ordering platform or old-fashioned punch card can be used to thank those repeat customers. The same is true for business services. Is this your client’s third visit to the salon this year? Reward them with a surprise discount or bonus service to entice them to keep coming back.