Majority of successful businesses in the world began as small ventures. Classic examples include global online retail giant Amazon, travel arrangements provider Airbnb and Virgin Group. These businesses made it to the top due to innovative thinking by their founders: they decided to adopt untried out-of-the-box solutions to market their business and eventually struck an astounding success.
Why outside the Box Ideas?
Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs prefer to stick to conventional methods to promote their small business and hence meet limited success. Marketing a small business can prove difficult for most entrepreneurs. Mainly due to insufficient funds for marketing activities such as advertising and promotions.
Nowadays, a lot of businesses launch from home. This is because you may not have enough money to invest in buying or renting an office. Further, there are lots of home based business ideas which make it attractive to launch your venture. However, thinking outside the box can help any venture meet success as the above examples amply prove.
Here we discuss six ways to think outside the box while marketing your small business.
Harness Power of the Internet
Setting up a website is easy, and most small businesses would already have one. However, you can also harness the power of the Internet using unconventional techniques. These including opening a YouTube channel for your business.
Upload short and interesting videos of everything from the history of your business to personal stories and customer experiences. Open a blog on your website and invite customers to write about their experiences.
Post excellent pictures on Pinterest and Instagram. Creating a profile on LinkedIn is also helpful. Above all, develop and popularize mobile apps that help you stay in touch with customers on the move.
Use Free Online Classifieds
Craigslist, OLX and several other websites offer free online classifieds service. Most small businesses are wary of utilizing these classifieds due to the false notion they are for selling used stuff and other motley services. Posting a free online classified on sections specific to your small business may not necessarily get you lots of customers.
It will serve the vital purpose of advertising your brand on platforms that have immense reach locally and worldwide. Remember to post interesting pictures and a brief description of your product or services to entice customers.
Listen to Customers
An essential part of any business is listening to customers. Understandably, not everyone will speak well of your brand while others might sing praises. Every customer regardless of the value of their purchase has some opinion to express. Listening to customers also serves to mollify their egos to some extent because they believe the opinion matters.
Inviting feedback from clients and prospective customers about their user experience, changes they would like to see, reasons for patronizing your brand and myriad other details help you to innovate rapidly. It also helps iron out any glitches or unforeseen problems that a customer may encounter while using your brand.
Every large business spends considerable time in handling consumer feedback. For your small business, such feedback will serve as a valuable tool for engaging customers. Here again, Facebook and Twitter serve as important tools to receive customer feedback.
Innovate, Innovate & Innovate
Globally acclaimed marketing guru Peter F. Drucker rightly states that every business has two main functions- marketing and innovation. This both holds true for large and small businesses. Innovation is imperative for small businesses since you need to compete in a relatively smaller geographic area within limited resources.
Innovation does not necessarily imply that you launch a whole new range of products or services. Simple innovations like adding introducing another flavor to a food product, changing wrapper or packaging to make it more appealing or providing extra service for free by expanding the line also counts as innovation.
Existing customers are willing to try an innovated product or service because it implies the brand is gaining popularity. It also imparts a positive feeling about their feedback being accepted and implemented. Innovation helps retain brand loyalty and helps expand the customer base.
Word of Mouth
That word of mouth publicity is very important to any business is aptly stated by Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon. As a small business, your advertising budget would be limited. This is where word of mouth helps.
People are more likely to patronize your product based on word of mouth from existing users than commercials in newspaper, TV, radio and other platforms. There are countless ways to generate excellent word of mouth publicity.
However, you need to create a great customer experience. Students, homemakers, and retirees often serve as excellent channels for word of mouth publicity. They have ample time to share their experience with your brand with others.
Wherever possible, offer such customers a great experience with your brand. Encourage them to share experiences with your brand with others. Offer incentives such as freebies to entice existing users to bring newer clients to your brand.
Expand Marketing Channels
An excellent way for small businesses to grow is by expanding your marketing channels. Which can be done easily through Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) also called network marketing. Here, you enlist people who wish to make extra money during spare time by promoting your products. In exchange, you part with some commissions.
You can invite MLM associates through your website or by popularizing your brand and calling for network marketers at social events. Another marketing technique commonly used by large businesses nowadays is Affiliate Marketing.
Means you reward people registered as affiliates for bringing more customers to your business through their marketing effort. Affiliate marketing can be done online too by getting bloggers to promote your brand or driving traffic to your website or e-commerce portal.
There are other out-of-the-box ways to market your small business. One is by offering a loyalty program that offers sops to returning customers. Another is the traditional cash-back scheme meaning you deposit some part of the money from a purchase for a customer to use when buying from your brand the next time.
Both these programs can be implemented with a low budget. They ensure loyalty to your small business and often translate into returning customers. Cash backs schemes also help bag newer customers. Generally, a good way to market your small business would be to combine conventional methods with out-of-the-box ones.