When you are just starting out with your business it can seem overwhelming to figure out advertising, marketing and social media when you already have so many things to do. Small business marketing doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult, there are many ways to reach your customers without spending a lot of money.
I know that many moms who start their own business want to keep their budget low and do as many aspects of the business themselves as possible. Here are some ideas on how to market your small business without breaking the budget.
Before You Start Marketing Your Small Business
When you are first starting a business you often have a very small marketing budget. You need to get the word out but as cheaply as possible. So, what do you really need to spend money on?
First, build yourself a website. It is one of the best ways to start promoting your product. It gives you a place to keep people up to date on what you offer and where to find your products. You can have just a simple website or an entire online store.
Business cards that list contact information and your website are also a good investment. There are many places you can order online such as Moo or Vistaprint. You can easily order at your local Staples or copy center too.
Choose a simple, clean design with all your contact info in a plain text that can be easily read. If you decide to add a picture make sure that the image is clear and not pixelated when printed. Don’t feel like you have to upgrade to fancy paper or glossy finish, just get some good basic cards to start out and you will be all set.
Finally, depending on your product, make sure you have branded packaging. This can be as simple as a sticker you put on a bag or as fancy as printed bags and boxes. You want people to recognize your product on a store shelf or your table at a market.
RELATED: Should You Make Your Own Logo?
Small Business Marketing to People You Know
The most scary step for most people, is to start talking about your business to everyone you know. Tell your friends when you see them in person, write about your new endeavor on your personal Facebook page, call your Aunt on the phone, just start talking!
There are so many people in your life who will love to support you. Don’t let the fear of negative people keep you from spreading your happy news. You might get a few people telling you it is silly to start a business or that you will lose money but don’t let them get you down. You are doing your research and building up slowly, you can do this!
When you tell people that you have started a business make sure to tell them how they can support you. Send them to your website or give them a business card. If you have the kind of product that lends itself to samples start handing some out now. Word of mouth is going to be your very best friend!
If you post on Facebook ask your friends to share it. People will be happy to do it but they might not think of it if you don’t ask. You can just include a line at the bottom of your post saying, “I would love if you would share this post with your friends.”
Small Business Marketing in Your Area
Think about creating a flyer on Canva and getting a few printed to put up in your community. Hang them where your potential customers might hang out. Hand them out if you don’t have business cards yet.
Consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce or a networking group. In some areas they are expensive and might not be affordable when you are just starting out. Once you can afford it though it is worth joining and going to some events to help get your name out there.
You can even print out some coupons to hand out or leave at other businesses. Coupons can be a great way to get new customers and encourage return business too.
Reaching Out to Other Small Businesses
Does your business or product go well with an established business? Think about asking to collaborate with them. For example, if you create screen printed tank tops, see if your local yoga studio might want to sell them. Or if you make goats milk soap, partner up with the local Bed and Breakfast.
When you have enough inventory consider finding local stores to sell your product. You will have to weigh the cost of selling your product wholesale and price accordingly but it is a great way to get your product to a wider audience.
When I had my granola business I would make a list of five or so stores in the same area that sold similar products and bring samples to all of them on the same day.
I made sure to ask for the Purchasing Manager or Owner of the store and get their business card and permission to call them back in a few days to see how they liked it. I also left a typed letter introducing my product, the flavors I sold, my wholesale pricing structure and contact information.
Two days later I would call and ask to speak to the person I left the sample with and ask how they liked it and if they had any questions. If they liked it I would see if they were ready to place an order or if they needed a few more days.
Using this method I was able to add my product into about 50% of the stores I approached. The key is to follow up! I hate talking on the phone and dreaded doing this task but it works and is worth taking the time to make phone calls.
Small Business Marketing at Events
There are many different kinds of events that you can use to reach new customers. Farmer’s Market, Craft Fairs, Festivals, Fundraisers and more! Do some research on events in your area and pick a few to start signing up for.
Once you get to these events ask some of the other vendors what events they love attending. Talk to the customers and find out where they like to buy your type of products. They will tell you about other events and maybe stores that you can approach.
Make sure to bring plenty of business cards and wholesale sheets to these events. You want to be ready to pass these out to everyone who is interested. Don’t be stingy! Not everyone who takes a card will buy later but many of them will or at least pass your card to someone they know who might be interested.
If you have a product that lends itself to samples make sure to bring plenty to any event you attend. I used to pass out tons of tiny cups of granola at events. It always amazed me how many people would pick up a cup and walk away only to stop and turn around once they put the granola in their mouth. Samples can change someone’s mind in a second!
If you are looking to start your own business, check out my ecourse Mompreneur in the Making. It is for any mom who needs some help getting a new business off the ground. I walk you through creating a brand, building a website, pricing, marketing, social media and more!