NEW YORK (MainStreet) As many small business owners take the fall season to review their marketing strategies, they may be discovering they need to find more creative ways to compete in the ever-growing market place.
However, owners may also be finding they have little cash on hand to build a traditional marketing campaign.
MainStreet put together a list of some of the most cost effective marketing strategies small businesses can use right now, according to the experts:
1. You're the expert: "One of the best ways to market your business, and an exploding trend this year, is through thought leadership using a content marketing campaign," says Constance Aguilar, strategic communications specialist for The Abbi Agency. "Showcasing your expertise on various subjects, offering the public white papers and case studies, being an expert contributor and using the materials to market your business is the new way of establishing a reputation and getting in front of new audiences."
2. Not just for the financial professionals: Presenting seminars is a widely used tool in the financial industry, but this can work in almost any industry with a local market. "Consumers are always willing to be educated on an issue of importance to them," says Bob Richards, a retired financial planner and blogger at retirement-income.net. "If the buisness does not have a local clientele, then do as a webinar." Richards says not to forget to offer the recording for those who register but do not attend and also to post the video to Youtube to embed on your business site.
3. Stay on top of social media: You know by now that you should be using free social media marketing and aligning it with your traditional marketing campaigns. Are you staying up on the latest trends on social media? "Sign up for Google Authorship with your Google+ account," advises Matthew Zajechowski, Digital Third Coast. "This connects anything you publish online with your Google+ profile and also means your content is more likely to be visible in the search rankings. Google is placing a high premium on Google authorship, so if you are active on your blog or other blogs in your industry via guest posting, be sure to enable Google authorship."
4. Watch those websites: Is there a premium website in your industry that would be great to own? Attorney Stephen Schwartz had been watching SchwartzLegal.Com for a decade, waiting for the day it became available. He recently purchased rights to the website at auction when the former owner retired. Schwartz believes acquiring the site might help his own business grow.
5. Virtual Networking: If you haven't figured out how to work professional networking sites such as LinkedIn to your advantage, you should do so, say the experts. "By keeping dialogue on the platform conversational, and not being afraid to connect with people you may not know, you'll be surprised by where your LinkedIn connections will lead you," says Kristin Serio, senior account executive at Donper America.
6. You've won: "One of the latest marketing trends in social media is running contests and sweepstakes," says Giancarlo Massaro, co-founder of ViralSweep. "Almost any brand you can think of has run a sweepstakes recently, and with the holidays coming up soon, there are going to be even more companies running them." Massaro also says they are effective, because people love the chance to win something for free from their favorite brands; they drive up user engagement with the brand and they are a fast way to build up an email list, get more likes on Facebook and get more sales.
7. In the palm of your hand: By the end of 2013, more people will increasingly browse the Web on their phone rather than on their desktop computer. If you don't have a mobile optimized website (one built for viewing on mobile phones) 60% of mobile visitors will abandon it immediately, says Edward B. Anderson President, Black Propeller LLC.
8. Cross Marketing: "You can save time and money by joining forces with complementary businesses whose customers can utilize your products and services," says Jerrilynn B. Thomas, Women's News Bureau. "You can share the cost of ad space; piggy back your marketing materials and hold joint events."
9. Add to your Facebook reach: Whether or not Facebook ads are that effective for some businesses remains to be determined. But some businesses have found a lot of success for a relatively low marketing investment. "We have been successfully working with Facebook ads for the past six months," says Corey Epstein, CEO and Founder of a new men's e-tailer 20JEANS. "We have utilized the majority of advertising methods allowed, including promoted posts, targeted ads and like campaigns."
10. Free samples: If you've ever hit the grocery store or discount club just for the free samples and then took home a mega box of something you didn't plan on purchasing, you are familiar with this marketing strategy. "It may seem counterintuitive to give things away for free, but in truth it's one of the most powerful marketing tricks out there," says Cailen Ascher, founder of CALM biz. "Once people sample how amazing your free offerings are, they will be lining up at the door to buy from you."
--Written by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell for MainStreet