Small business owners are heroes in my eyes. I started my own content marketing and copywriting business from my dining room table in Harrow, North-West London just over 2.5 years ago.
It’s the best decision I ever made. But nothing can prepare you for the amount of work that goes into building and running a business.
So, it’s a big thumbs up for every small business owner out there.
I’m grateful that I work with some wonderful clients on a regular basis, but one of the lessons I learned early on is to never think you have enough work coming in. So, something that is always buzzing round in my head is how to market my services.
As a small business it is tough getting your voice heard against bigger businesses who have more money to throw at marketing. It’s not impossible though, you just have to work harder and smarter with what you’ve got available.
Here are some things you can do to market your business with a tiny budget:
First, take advantage of all online opportunities. You will definitely need to have a website or blog. This can be done on a budget as long as you are willing to do most of the work yourself.
To create a website, you’ll first have to register a domain name. Sites like 123-reg and names.co.uk are good places to start looking. Next, source a hosting company and choose a content management system, like WordPress or a website builder like Squarespace to create the site structure and to upload content.
You may have to do some prior research and reading to become familiar with whatever platform you’ll be using.
If you’re confident building a site, you can download a web template (some are free) or hire a web developer to do some things for you.
Having a presence on social media is also a must.
You need to understand who your ideal customers are, what interests them and where they find their information. For example, if you are a company that offers HR advice to businesses, then LinkedIn is ideal. Or, you may find that your ideal client is hanging out on Instagram.
Be authentic online
I heard something really interesting lately, actually it was on a podcast. I can’t remember who it was, but they said that “people buy from people.” And, this is 100% correct, especially with small businesses where you as the owner have first-hand contact with your customers.
As most people research products, services and businesses online before making a purchase, it’s important that you come across as authentic with your marketing messages.
Not only will this help you build trust your audience, but it can also help you win new customers but turn one-off buyers into repeat customers.
But what does it mean to be authentic? Well, be clear about who you are, what you do and what benefits you can bring to your customers. Back this up with customer testimonials and case studies. And, add value by sharing your expertise with blog articles.
Tell your story
Video is ‘huge’ in marketing and this trend is set to continue for the forseeable future.
You don’t need to an expert to make a video. The latest smartphones have fantastic cameras that allow you to easily make videos. Get somebody to record you whilst you talk for a few minutes about your chosen topic and post it onto your website, social media and YouTube.
Or, make a video giving a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your company – this is a fun and easy way to give your brand personality.
Another marketing tactic that is growing in popularity is podcasts. These are audio files that can be downloaded and listened to. An article by TotalMedia states that around 9 million people in the UK tune in to a podcast each week.
Anyone in any industry can start a podcast as long as they’ve got something of value to say. You can also invite peers and experts from other industries to guest on your podcast.
Share your expertise
If you want to share your experience and knowledge with others outside of your own website, you should consider guest blogging.
Guest blogging is something that a lot of people don’t consider, but it is a great way to get your ideas heard by to a wider audience.
Theme Circle has a list of 5000 + sites that accept guest posts. And for your convenience they’ve split this list based on interests. Once, you’ve identified some sites, pitch the editor with an idea for a great article. If its accepted, be sure to include in your author bio a link to your website – this is important for your sites SEO.
I’m being honest and say that face-to-face networking is not my favourite thing. I’m not comfortable in crowds and I get tongue-tied when I’m put on the spot and asked to explain what I do.
Even though, I still push myself to attend networking events. Not as many as I should do though!
If you’re looking for places to find networking events or meetups that are happening in your local area, social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook are great places to start. Search ‘networking events in X’ and list posts by ‘latest’ and a few should pop up.
EventBrite is also a good site to find events. And, don’t forget to check your council’s website as they sometimes arrange meetups for local businesses.
While we’re taking about networking, I have to mention online networking. I’m a big believer in online networking. Connecting, engaging and talking with people online, particularly LinkedIn, has worked really well for me.
For me, networking isn’t just about finding clients. It’s also about building a connection of people who I can call on for help with my own business (and my clients) and also turn to for support and advice.
Through a Facebook group I’m a member of I’ve managed to find a business coach, web developer and SEO consultant I work with.
If there’s anything you think I should add to this list, send me a message and let me know. Or, if you’re interested in my content marketing or copywriting services, we can arrange a time for an initial chat.