Low-Cost Marketing Tips to Survive and Thrive in 2009

37880902A recession doesn’t mean small business have to spend the next few months hiding in bunkers under Broadway Boulevard. In fact, many marketers and brand specialists will tell you now is the perfect time to build on and establish lasting relationships with customers/clients.

Don’t let a small marketing budget hold you back. There’s plenty businesses can do with staff resources. It just requires a little good, old-fashioned know-how and people skills. Think you’re not the person with those skills? Find someone in-house who enjoys meeting and talking to people. Odds are you’ve got a star waiting to shine.

Write something for your local newspaper. It can be a letter to the editor, a guest column or article offering readers needed information highlighting your area of expertise. This positions you as an expert in a community that reads the same publication as your target customers/clients.

Speak up. Volunteer to speak to associations, clubs or other organizations about your expertise. This isn’t the time to make a hard sales pitch, rather, cater your talk to your audience.

Ask for referrals. Take a proactive approach rather than a passive one. Tell people who your ideal client is and ask them for their help in finding them. The real-estate agent who sold us our house sends us a card every year and reminds us that she loves referrals. It’s not pushy, does not sound like she’s begging, and I’m confident it helps generate business leads.

Beef up your references. Marketing messages should focus on the benefits of your product/service and not its features. Use customer testimonials and case studies to prove how you can improve customers’/clients’ lives or businesses. Ideally, these will come from real clients. Use photographs and direct quotes to prove your references are real.

Know how to network. While perhaps the most common marketing tool used by small business owners, it’s also often poorly executed. Many people will attend a mixer and work the room like an Olympic marathon event – shaking hands with as many people as possible and passing out a record number of business cards. WRONG! The goal of networking is how YOU can help the other person. Establish quality relationships and give referrals to the members you meet FIRST. By doing this you’ll build a circle of influence which will begin to grow your business for you.

Make it personal. Mom was right. People do expect to be thanked. So go the extra mile and thank your clients/customers for their patronage or for referring clients/customers to your business.

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