Running a small business can be a challenge in any kind of market. This is especially true today with so many potential customers looking for the next big thing--the newest flavor of the month. Thus, it is particularly important to stand out above competitors. With my 20+ years as a small business owner, I've learned how to do this on a very small advertising budget. Follow along for my favorite tips.
Establish yourself as the expert--interview frequently.
My face is on your television, in print media, and on pod-casts. My voice is on your radio. Why? It's because the need for content is great. Quite often local networks require an expert in my field, so they typically call me for interviews. The same is true for all other content driven media outlets, like newspapers and magazines.
As an etiquette expert, I frequently interview during the holidays due to gift giving, tipping, and business party questions. However, these segments are a mere three-minute snap shot, so I maximize my exposure and free advertising by contacting the local networks and pitching story ideas as well.
Volunteer for events.
Volunteering has always been a part of my life. However, I never realized that it could actually benefit my business. That is, until I began judging beauty pageants. When I first received a request to judge I had images of "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Toddlers in Tiaras" dancing in my head. I nearly politely refused until I did a bit of research and found the organization to be a good fit for my business--no little ones in makeup. During the pageant, my business name was announced repeatedly to thousand of potential customers, resulting in many paying clients.
Get out of the office and network!
My brand of networking is a mixture of face-to-face and social media. Three times a week, a group of local business owners and I meet for coffee in a busy public place. As regulars, we've all met most everyone frequenting the establishment, which means that they all know who we are and what we do. Attending most events in town also increases my exposure. Thus, more free advertising.
To maximize my social-media exposure, I have at least one page on most major platforms, including LinkedIn. I devote one-hour minimum each day to social media posting.
All three techniques have resulted in paying clients and all were free or at minimal cost due to traveling expenses. However, the very best free advertising comes from my previous clients. I strive to provide a high quality, unique product for my clients. Happy clients tend to result in referrals. Referrals equal free advertising.
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