One of the biggest challenges for small businesses and budding entrepreneurs is effective marketing on a shoestring or with no budget.
You can’t get or do any better than word of mouth.
Word of mouth is mainly based on an impression you made with a client or prospect who would like to do business with you in the future. That impression has value. You can trade on that value. And it all starts with contact. Start with your neighbors, friends, family, all the places you frequent locally, local organizations, associations, clubs, etc.
Marketing Brand You
You may not have any money, but you have something better—YOU. Use your passion, knowledge and personality to meet and share with as many people as you can—consistently. Start with small goals: meet and speak to two new or familiar people a day. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Strike up a conversation with people at your local coffee shop, grocery store, your kid’s school, your neighbors’ houses, or any other places you frequent.
- Call former co-workers, past clients, local vendors, or business associates.
- Email social media contacts.
- Visit your local chamber of commerce, a Meetup group, or local professional industry association.
It’s easier than you think, once you try it a few times. Make a commitment and track your progress.
Don’t know how to start the conversation? Think F.O.R.D. (family, occupation, relationships, dreams). In any order, it’s enough to get your foot in the door with just about anybody.
When you strike up a conversation with a stranger or a familiar face, chatting up F.O.R.D. is great way to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. You can easily segue in and out of topics. You can ask questions that will provide you with insight on things that interest the listener. Use that interest to remember them, follow-up with them or find connections.
Using Business Cards and Handouts and Finding Complimentary Businesses
Don’t forget your business cards, but if you are selling a product, have samples handy to increase the odds of them remembering you.
Samples are an easy way to get your product out there. Can you make smaller versions of your product for giveaways or samples to leave with complimentary business owners who can share it with their clients?
Complimentary business owners are also a great way to start meeting and mingling with your ideal clients. Find local business owners whose services/products compliment yours and pay them a visit. Find out if there are opportunities and synergies that you can leverage to increase your exposure and attract your ideal clients.
Reach out in Your Community
Are there any small local events you can sponsor? Endearing yourself to your community can increase your profile ten-fold.
Get involved with your favorite charity, volunteer your services. Help your community get used to seeing you. Become the familiar face. Your community benefits from your involvement and you benefit from the increased exposure. When your personal and business practices are aligned, you can organically attract clients who share your interests and passions.
Leverage the Power of YOU
Don’t underestimate the power of YOU. Sure, it’s great to have the finances for snazzy marketing campaigns and ads, not to mention be able to afford the professional services of a marketing or social media expert. But at the end of the day, it’s your business and your product/service. Use your passion and hunger to get people excited about working with you.
Most deals are not made after fancy or labored presentations in an office. They are made over lunch and coffee. They are made after a casual conversation that lead to intrigue and excitement.
Think about who your ideal client is. Visualize them. Where do you find them? That’s where you need to be. Get up, put on your best look, take a deep breath, and get out there!
Marketing on a shoestring or no budget? No problem. You have something more valuable—YOU. You’re your best asset.