There’s no shortage of information out there regarding marketing ideas, tips, and tricks.  However, many of these ideas can be out of reach for those just starting their business, especially if you’re a solopreneur startup. Marketing is a critical component to the success of any company of any size, from startup to the more established multimillion dollar companies. The difference is in the execution. What can a small business owner do to market their startup company?  It may come as a surprise that affordable small business marketing really can be accessible to anyone, even those on a limited marketing budget.  Below are 7 ideas to jumpstart your marketing efforts.

Get your name out there by attending networking and business connection events

When you’re a startup, your business week fluctuates between not enough time to get everything done, and too much time on your hands when new business isn’t coming in. It’s a constant balancing act every new business owner faces.  Understand that connecting with as many business people as possible is going to help you find more clients.  Referrals can be some of the strongest business leads you can get as a small business owner, and likely the only way to get those referrals is through networking.  The key is to network effectively as a small business owner. Leverage both in-person and online networking events.  Be prepared to give your 30-second elevator speech so you can quickly and effectively describe your business and its value to potential clients. Bring business cards. Collect business cards and then follow up with a “nice to meet you” note. It’s all about connections when you’re starting out.

Start writing content, a lot of content

Ideally, your business is about solving other people’s problems, right?  Your service or product should be there to help prospective clients with their pain points.  However, you can’t help people if they don’t know you exist.  One way to combat that is to provide great content on your site so people will find you. Don’t make the mistake everyone else makes, writing only about themselves and listing numerous features of their service or product.  Answer questions people are asking.  Provide information people are looking for.  Tell people about the benefit of your service or product, how it will help them, how it will solve their problems.  Give them tips, lists, checklists, and any other kind of information to help them.  You become the subject matter expert over time, and the one people will go to when they’re ready to buy.

Be sociable

Yes, that means social media.  It’s free; all it takes is time, so use it wisely and it can be one of the best marketing resources a small business can have.  Take advantage of the top 3: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  Just like your blog, get engaged.  Answer questions.  Provide information. Be helpful.  And connect with other professionals online.  If you can dedicate a few hours a week to these platforms, you’ll see a significant impact over time.  Be patient and consistent; it will pay off.

Create a referral program for your business

Remember, referrals are one of the most powerful lead sources you can have, so why not nurture a referral program?  It can be as simple as spiffing people with gift cards, or you can pay out a finder’s fee or a % of the sale.  Use business connections, friends, and clients to spread the word.  You now have a “sales team” helping you get business!

Join professional organizations

There are many organizations out there that are geared at supporting small businesses.  Powerful small business associations can provide tremendous marketing opportunities for startups and entrepreneurs by listing their business in their directory, providing opportunities to speak, hosting networking events, and much more. Seek out those professional organizations and get involved.

Have a marketing plan, work the marketing plan

Having a strategic marketing plan should be one of the first things you do to understand where to spend your time and money.  It can be simple to start, a couple paragraphs to several pages. The key is, create a plan.  You can’t do it all, so pick 2 or 3 things and do them well, and do them consistently.  Ideally, choose tactics that you can leverage together, such as content and social media. Write the content, share it online. The idea is having some kind of plan so you’re not throwing efforts against a wall to see what sticks.

Starting a small business is hard work.  These marketing ideas require little cost and yet can provide a tremendous return. Start with these 6 tips and see how your small business will benefit from these efforts.

Patty Hughes
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