Small business owners have a lot on their plates, including creating awareness for their brands. Without that, they’ll have fewer customers and ultimately less revenue and profits. This is why it’s important to make sure there is time and money for a proper marketing strategy to build a strong brand. You can start as small or as large as you like, depending on the resources you have access to. Below are five tips to build a brand on any budget.
- Have some curb appeal
The whole reason you want a strong brand is to get people to your business, so why not start at square one by dressing up your curb appeal? People are more likely to stop by your business if it has a clean, inviting storefront.
Make sure the exterior of your business is free of trash and debris, and if there is a tree or garden outside, make sure it isn’t overgrown or full of weeds. You can add a bench or a table and chairs to offer people a place to rest while on a walk. Alternatively, set up a table outside with clearance items to give people a preview of what’s inside and lure them to check out more. If people commonly walk their dogs by your business, you can put out a bowl of water for the canines; people will remember your kindness toward their pets.
When it comes to the evening and night hours, make sure you have proper lighting. Customers aren’t going to stop at a place if they can’t tell if it’s open. They also won’t stop at a business that doesn’t make them feel safe.
- Community Service
Getting involved in the community is a great way to increase brand awareness. People are more likely to frequent businesses that give back to their communities; it makes their experience with you a little more personal.
Sponsor a local youth sports team, or donate materials to a school event. You’ll likely get your logo on the team’s jersey or in the program. Adopt a local park or gathering space if you have time to maintain that area. In this case, signs (which also can feature your logo) are typically placed at the location letting people know who is responsible for it.
Fundraisers are also a great way to support the community. You could have a fundraiser in which a part of your proceeds go to a specific cause. Collect canned goods for the local food pantry, or (if you have enough room) open up your business to let local animal groups have an adoption event there.
- Direct mail
People won’t come to your business if they don’t know you exist. Use direct mail to help spread the word; it can help you target specific neighborhoods to reach potential customers within a specific radius of your business.
As people receive more and more emails everyday, it can be easy to miss a marketing message. There’s a good chance it might not even make it to the inbox and instead head straight to the junk folder. To that end, tangible mail typically attracts more attention and has a longer shelf life, as people keep it as a reference for later.
You can invite people to an open house or other events at your business, send them coupons or invite them to check out your website and social media. Be sure your message doesn’t look too much like an advertisement or people will think it’s junk mail and toss it in the trash. For a more professional look, find a local or online printer that specializes in printing custom business envelopes. There are many shapes and sizes to choose from, the selection at CompanyFolders.com is a good example of what’s available. For sales letters and other marketing mail, fonts that look like handwriting are often best, adding a personal touch and increasing the chances of the mail getting opened.
- Cross promotions
Partner with a fellow business owner to cross-promote each other. This will help expose your brand to customers who might not have found you, as well as help stretch your marketing dollars.
When selecting a partner, make sure you are not competing for business. This means you should avoid businesses that provide products or services that are very similar to the ones you offer. It’s also important to check into the potential partner’s morals and business values to make sure they are in line with yours and you’ll be comfortable in a business relationship. Make sure you are willing to put your reputation up against their goods and services; customers will take it out on you if they have a bad experience with your partners.
You can keep each other’s flyers in your businesses, or even offer free samples with purchases. Promote each other on your social media pages and newsletters. If your businesses are in the same area, you can co-sponsor an event like a block party or community barbecue.
- Promotional products
Depending on your budget, have promotional products made to show off your logo and contact information. Regardless of the item, giving people free swag will still help form a personal connection to your brand. People also save promotional products, which gives them a longer shelf life than other marketing materials.
You can go with pricier pieces, like T-shirts or hats, or less expensive pieces, like key chains or magnets. Though a little more expensive, wearable promotional products can provide extra advertising for your brand because the people wearing them become walking billboards for your business.
Give out the items at events and use them as prizes for contests, too. You also can donate some of them to local non-profit groups to use for their own raffle prizes, which also ties into a community service element.
There is a lot of trial and error when you first start your small business. It’s important to keep track of each of the marketing moves you make to best determine what works and what doesn’t. Many small business owners have a limited budget for marketing, so you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best return on investment. It’s best to try new strategies one at a time in order to be able to determine what is generating the best results.
Hopefully, these tips can help you get off on the right foot. Do you have any other tips? Leave them in the comments below.