A small business does not need a large corporate budget to carve out a niche online. A study conducted by advertising research firm Communicus found that 60 percent of those multi-million dollar Super Bowl ads do not make potential customers any more likely to buy the corresponding product or service. Researchers asked 1,000 consumers about their buying intentions before and after the 2012 and 2013 big games, and most were unmoved by the big-ticket ads they saw.
There are very inexpensive ways to promote your small business online—even free approaches that are very effective. Here are three methods to consider.
Sell T-Shirts & Other Custom Branded Merchandise
Jason Sadler had a wild idea of approaching companies and offering to wear T-shirts bearing their slogans, logos, and phone number for a nominal fee. Six years later, iwearyourshirt.com earns him $500,000 per year with no signs of slowing down, according to Business Insider. Advertising executives are willing to pay a guy to wear shirts because they know it works.
There are plenty of options for small business owners to purchase T-shirts in bulk and sell them via their website or even give them away when customers spend a certain amount. A 15-20 percent markup on the price you paid to have them made will earn you some revenue, but it’s the free advertising that you’re after. But don’t limit your thoughts just to clothing. You can put your logo and brand on virtually anything! It’s great marketing and even a profit center.
While you can use a free logo design platform online to keep overhead low on the entire project, consult your local printer on options for a brand refresh – or, if it’s time, a complete logo and brand makeover. Make sure your logo is consistent across all your social media channels.
Start a Blog
The saying goes “content is king” for marketing, and that is especially the case for small companies building a customer base. Companies that blog had 55 percent more website visitors, 97 percent more inbound links, and 434 percent more indexed pages, according to an informal 2009 study of Hubspot customers.
The key to blogging, however, is to produce compelling content that will drive people to your website who were not necessarily looking for your product. A hair restoration doctor, for instance, could produce content about celebrity men and women in the news who have had procedures done to enhance their locks. A health food firm could write about all the bad things associated with genetically-modified foods. Consider hiring a freelance writer with a proven track record of producing content that is subsequently shared on social media. There are more than 150 million blogs on the web, so the only thing that will make yours stand out is good content. Hiring a professional writer may be money well spent.
Facebook Paid Ads
You already have a Facebook business page, so why not give their promoted post feature a try. The idea is that Facebook will put your posts in the timelines of people who are most likely to read, like, and share it. The best part of Facebook advertising is that you can test it out with a small initial budget. If it’s working for you, increase your budget and put posts in front of more Facebook users.
There are mixed opinions about Facebook promoted ads. A small case study by eConsultancy found that the traffic to promoted posts was definitely higher, but there was no way of telling whether it was because it was paid for or if the traffic was organic. Others believe that the affordability makes it a no-brainer option for low-budget firms.
Technology of the 21st century has made promoting a small business simple for anyone. Now it’s just a matter of finding the right combination of channels to reach your fiscal goals.