#SWAAYthenarrative

What Are Some Cost-Effective Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses?

Being a small business owner isn't about becoming a multi-millionaire. It's about making a living out of your passion and having complete independence from corporate restrictions. As many small business owners aren't too ambitious, they don't tend to make room in the budget for marketing and instead rely on word of mouth within the local community. However, this often isn't enough to attract the customers you need to support your overheads and make some profit. This could lead to you falling on hard times. Marketing can help you fix this by reeling in more customers – but what if you can't afford it? Well, have no fear. We've written this article for small business owners who need cost-effective marketing strategies, so they can attract customers and boost their profits once more.

Blogging

Blogging is an incredibly popular form of marketing that even big corporations use. It involves writing an article on a subject which relates to your business and it can be written as formally or informally as you like. It's an excellent way to build your brand, create links to your company website, inform your customers, and subtly persuade them to invest in what you're offering. And the best thing about blogging? It can be done completely for free. Either create a page on your business's website or use companies like WordPress and Wix who help users set up a standard blog. Just be mindful they will charge you to create your own domain. Start regular blogging to get the ball rolling and generate interest in your small business.

Emailing

Email marketing is another strategy used by big businesses that some small businesses might overlook. It's a good way to re-enter your customer's subconscious and chase up potential sales, plus showcase your new products. However, a lot of time and effort is involved in creating emails to send on a regular basis. You also risk annoying your client base if you spam them with generic content. Bearing in mind small businesses survive off creating a loyal, intimate relationship with their customers, this is definitely something you don't want to do. What you can do to avoid this is use email marketing software. This will automatically send emails for you and make sure the content is personalised to each client, depending on their status or browsing history. You can avoid spamming your customers with irrelevant content this way. However, email marketing can be expensive, so if you're wanting something more cost-effective for your small business, then use a free bulk email software instead.

Social Media

Over 2.95 billion people have at least one social media account, and this statistic is estimated to increase to 3.43 billion by 2023. That's pretty much half of the world's population. If you want to increase your small business's outreach within the local community, then social media marketing is the way to go. It's also completely free of charge to create and manage your own social media. Start by creating a business account on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Have some content prepared to post on them. Then start inviting friends and family to like or follow your page. Also, don't forget about the general social media etiquette, which is to follow others who are following you. To build your social media beyond your immediate connections, create content which is digestible to the greater community. Use attractive images, take pictures of your product, share an insight into your daily work life. Consider what other people will find most interesting. From here, you'll see your small business's following grow, bringing more customers your way.

Personal Profile

Building your personal profile is a surprisingly effective form of marketing. As we mentioned before, a small business's success hinges on the relationship they build with their customers. Inspire their loyalty and you're guaranteed a returning profit without having to spend thousands on marketing campaigns. One way you can do this is by building your personal profile on social media. For example, you could include a link to your personal Instagram or Twitter page and make sure the content there promotes a good public image. You can also post videos and images on the business pages which feature your face or voice. Though these things can make you feel vulnerable, it's important to do so. If people see the face behind the brand name, get a feel for your character, they will become more connected to you, thus making them more inclined to invest in your small business. You create a loyal client base who cares about your success. Sometimes, this means customers will even do the marketing for you by recommending your service to friends. And what better way is there to keep a small business afloat than a good reputation in the community?

Online Competitions

Not only are online competitions a lot of fun, but they double up as an excellent marketing strategy which is relatively cost-effective for small businesses. Usually, competitions for advertising purposes will consist of giveaways, answering quiz questions, or raffles. Winners will receive one of the business's products as a prize or another item like a sound system and box of chocolates. You can turn this into an advertising exercise in several different ways. For one, you could ask participants to tag at least two other people in the competition post if they'd like to enter. Or, you could ask participants to share the post on their social media and invite them to like or follow your social media. There's no one way of going about it. Online competitions are an excellent way to spread the news about your small business and encourage more people to engage with what you're offering. Obviously, prize-giving does entail an expense, but they should draw in more than enough profit to justify this cost.

These are some of the best cost-effective marketing strategies which should help attract customers to your small business. It's all about building a good relationship with the community and creating content which will be of interest to consumers.

3 Min Read
Business

Five Essential Lessons to Keep in Mind When You're Starting Your Own Business

"How did you ever get into a business like that?" people ask me. They're confounded to hear that my product is industrial baler wire—a very unfeminine pursuit, especially in 1975 when I founded my company in the midst of a machismo man's world. It's a long story, but I'll try to shorten it.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up—even if it involved a non-glamorous product. I'd been fired from my previous job working to become a ladies' clothing buyer and was told at my dismissal, "You just aren't management or corporate material." My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Over the years, I've learned quite a few tough lessons about how to successfully run a business. Below are five essential elements to keep in mind, as well as my story on how I learned them.

Find A Need And Fill It

I gradually became successful at selling various products, which unfortunately weren't profitable enough to get me off the ground, so I asked people what they needed that they couldn't seem to get. One man said, "Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can't get it." I saw happy dollar signs as he talked on and dedicated myself to figuring out the baler wire industry.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up.

Now forty-five years later, I'm proud to be the founder of Vulcan Wire, Inc., an industrial baler wire company with $10 million of annual sales.

Have Working Capital And Credit

There were many pitfalls along the way to my eventual success. My daughters and I were subsisting from my unemployment checks, erratic alimony and child-support payments, and food stamps. I had no money stashed up to start up a business.

I paid for the first wire with a check for which I had no funds, an illegal act, but I thought it wouldn't matter as long as I made a deposit to cover the deficit before the bank received the check. My expectation was that I'd receive payment immediately upon delivery, for which I used a rented truck.

Little did I know that this Fortune 500 company's modus operandi was to pay all bills thirty or more days after receipts. My customer initially refused to pay on the spot. I told him I would consequently have to return the wire, so he reluctantly decided to call corporate headquarters for this unusual request.

My stomach was in knots the whole time he was gone, because he said it was iffy that corporate would come through. Fifty minutes later, however, he emerged with a check in hand, resentful of the time away from his busy schedule. Stressed, he told me to never again expect another C.O.D. and that any future sale must be on credit. Luckily, I made it to the bank with a few minutes to spare.

Know Your Product Thoroughly

I received a disheartening phone call shortly thereafter: my wire was breaking. This horrible news fueled the fire of my fears. Would I have to reimburse my customer? Would my vendor refuse to reimburse me?

My customer told me to come over and take samples of his good wire to see if I might duplicate it. I did that and educated myself on the necessary qualities.

My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Voila! I found another wire supplier that had the right specifications. By then, I was savvy enough to act as though they would naturally give me thirty-day terms. They did!

More good news: My customer merely threw away all the bad wire I'd sold him, and the new wire worked perfectly; he then gave me leads and a good endorsement. I rapidly gained more wire customers.

Anticipate The Dangers Of Exponential Growth

I had made a depressing discovery. My working capital was inadequate. After I purchased the wire, I had to wait ten to thirty days for a fabricator to get it reconfigured, which became a looming problem. It meant that to maintain a good credit standing, I had to pay for the wire ten to thirty days before my customers paid me.

I was successful on paper but was incredibly cash deprived. In other words, my exponentially growing business was about to implode due to too many sales. Eventually, my increasing sales grew at a slower rate, solving my cash flow problem.

Delegate From The Bottom Up

I learned how to delegate and eventually delegated myself out of the top jobs of CEO, President, CFO, and Vice President of Finance. Now, at seventy-eight years old, I've sold all but a third of Vulcan's stock and am semi-retired with my only job currently serving as Vice President of Stock and Consultant.

In the interim, I survived many obstacles and learned many other lessons, but hopefully these five will get you started and help prevent some of you from having the same struggles that I did. And in the end, I figured it all out, just like you will.