Post by Liz Cullen, contributing Women On Business writer
As I talk to small business owners, I often hear them say, “I’m interested in getting out there more to market my business, but it’s just me. I don’t have the time/money/energy right now.” While increasing marketing budgets may not be in the future for most small businesses right now, that does not mean that your marketing “expenditures,” in terms of time and energy, should take a hit. With a little creativity, you can turn what you are already doing into a low-cost marketing strategy. The first step is identifying opportunities right under your nose that you may not have considered, allowing your resources and connections to market for you.
When you want to expand your client base, some of the most useful people may be the people you already know. This includes existing clients and professional organizations that you already belong to, often they can provide you with some form of publicity to get you on your way. Most women entrepreneurs already have a great story about landing that client, meeting a last minute deadline, or simply making their clients happy. The organizations that you work with, or belong to, are dedicated to promoting women’s entrepreneurship and want to share your success with others like you.
Your marketing team does not have to be “just you.” Forming new marketing strategies can be costly and time-consuming. By talking to people you know, they can give you advice, share their connections, and perhaps even spread the word about your company themselves. Your “team,” -family, friends, and contacts – have blogs and join forums and social networking sites to express their ideas, feelings, and opinions. If there is something positive that they can say about your company, and it can spread to others, this is the quickest way to do it.
Be careful what you ask for. Keep in mind –if you are asking someone for a favor, you will likely be called upon to return that favor. One of my women entrepreneur friends, recommends bartering your services –offering a few hours of your time or service in return. This, too, expands your network of people who can promote the value and quality you offer. In the end, finding new, unique, ways to market your company can save you money, time, and also expand your business to places you never thought it could reach.