Small and medium-sized businesses may not have the advertising and branding bucks of larger competitors, but by thinking outside the traditional marketing box, they can still do effective marketing.
Vancouver, BC-based Promt Proofing offers these four tips on how SMBs can compete:
#1: Consider approaching one of the many coupon sites that offer discounts on the Internet
Approach this method with care though, some small companies have found this has backfired on them. You will – at best – be offering loss leaders in the hope of gaining vastly increased exposure. At worst, if you get more orders than you can realistically cope with, all at rock bottom prices, your reputation could suffer as you will not be able to fulfill the orders and your existing customers will get neglected also.
To use coupon sites successfully, place limits, either on the number of coupons sold and/or the value of services/products offered. Ensure that, even if you sold the maximum, you would be realistically able to complete the orders without neglecting existing clients. Remember that at least one third of the people who buy these coupons never actually use them. Ideally, of course, you do want people to use your services, but getting the money, without having to offer anything in return, does serve to minimize the financial loss you take on the other orders! The exposure you gain from these promotions may prove well worthwhile.
#2: Offer a cheaper alternative for budget-minded customers
I firmly believe that you should stick to your guns regarding prices, assuming your pricing is fair in the first place. That said, if it is feasible to offer – and promote – a cheaper version for those budget-minded customers who are not just trying to lowball you but are genuinely interested in what you have to sell, this could bring in a lot of new business. If you offer a service for a certain price, then you could reduce the length of the service (a quick-two-hour cleaning service instead of the normal four-hour one) or eliminate some of the services offered (if you offer a full tax accounting package to businesses, consider offering simply a review of the business’s tax return).
If you are selling a product then consider the economical feasibility of offering a cheaper version, with fewer bells and whistles perhaps, or maybe a smaller size. Possibly the time and materials to create a ‘budget’ product would negate your profits but it is worth at least considering this option.
#3: Offer added value
This is the corollary of #2. However, instead of reducing the quantity/quality of your product you are throwing in a small ‘freebie’. The bottom line, from your point of view, remains the same but the psychological appeal to customers is a little different! Limit the freebies to create a sense of urgency while also allowing you to remain in control. Offer a free coffee mug to the first one hundred customers to purchase your shade-grown coffee for example, or a mini travel kit to the first two hundred customers to purchase an expensive tour package.
#4: Use social media
We have talked about this, in its many forms, many times before; however, this form of marketing has one incontrovertible advantage for SMBs – it is free! If you decide to do #1, #2 or #3 above, promote it on every social media site you can. If you have a blog or newsletter, be sure to promote your ‘deal’ in both of these!
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