Small Business Marketing Ideas? 5 Secret Places to Start!

Small business marketing ideas you’d think would be a dime a dozen yet it is the most frequently asked question that I get. Getting ideas are not the problem. What is hard on the brain is finding something that ten millions others haven’t thought of.

Here are 5 ideas that almost no one thinks about or has even heard of in some cases:

Google Zeitgeist:

  • The first thing that comes to mind is, “Huh?”. It is a German term which refers to “signs of the times”. Google uses it as a term to describe what the hottest searches are in any given moment. In other words, where are peoples’ minds? It is a great source of small business marketing ideas. Most of the time the top searches are on movie stars or sports figures that have done something they shouldn’t have and so forth. Keywording will be easy.
  • You can get great ideas from this and you know that the subject is already hot because the Zeitgeist list tells you so. What a great source of small business ideas! You don’t care about sports or movie figures? That’s alright. Sometimes the top search traffic is about the IRS or how to survive a multi day power outage. Come up with any product unique to the subject and you have an automatic hot market. (In the millions, usually)

Rentals:

You can use the list above to see which are the hottest movies or which new video game is getting all kinds of inquiries about it. Many small business marketing ideas will come as you write a product review or open a small web site, become an affiliate for a movie company, record label or game company and start selling. Again, you know the market is hot because search volumes are high. You can make it even hotter for your business using a good CPC campaign.

People are asking a lot about items on the zeitgeist. Most of them have their credit cards firmly clamped between their teeth. Make sure your little site, if you have one, is SEO’d properly and you’re off to the races!

What are your passions?:

  • This is an old, tried and true method of succeeding. It is one of the best small business marketing ideas ever. What are you really passionate about? Are you brought to tears when you hear of the plight of the Darfur rape victims? Famine and world hunger bring you to your knees? You maybe love radio controlled airplanes. Golf keeps you awake most nights. (I’m NOT implying that golfers or radio airplane enthusiasts don’t care about important issues!)
  • Whatever makes your heart pound, you can create a successful online venture for yourself. How can you make money, still feel good about yourself and have a clear conscience when dealing with things like world hunger? There are many ways and there is nothing wrong making a living funneling world attention and money on something that you love. Read the following idea and get information on affiliate programs.
  • Remember the good Samaritan of the bible? He could help the guy on the side of the road because he had money. You can do whatever you want with the money you make.

Create your own online bookstore:

  • No matter what your interest, you can create a tightly focused specialty bookstore. Places like Amazon.com and Chapters.ca and so forth all have affiliate programs. How can you help the starving people in Africa, lets say?
  • Design your bookstore to take your visitors to history books of Africa so they can learn how all this came about. Set up a part of your store on nutrition and what these people need. Set up another section on the heroes and saints of these people (who ever you see as hero. It’s your store, you decide.)
  • Love nature and want to do your share? Here are some small business marketing ideas that most people don’t realize can be created. Promote places like the Sierra Club on your site. Promote books on everything from bird watching to the ravaging of the planet. SEO the site properly and you will have oodles of traffic. Build your pages properly and you will have an immense positive impact on whatever stirs your stew. On the web, you can focus your business intensely like a laser on any small business marketing ideas you choose.

What do you know?:

  • If you are a plumber, create ebooks on plumbing repairs. Sell easy to make videos on how to fix a leak.
  • You love to knit? Give courses on knitting, sell specialty yarns and yes, make and sell your own easy to make videos.
  • You love to rebuild 1971 Mustangs? Just think of it… Mikes-famous-mustang-rebuilders.com!! Does this open a floodgate of small business marketing ideas for you?
  • You are a brain surgeon who loves to do research on nutrition to help brain cancer patients. Build a site, SEO it and run with it. Keep yourself happy, make money and improve the plight of some mighty unfortunate people.

I could go on forever, but I’m getting writers’ cramp. The internet is a river of gold. With that gold you can build your dream home, have the wardrobe of your dreams, do an incredible amount of good and what kind of price can you put on satisfaction with your life?

Make yourself a list of small business ideas and keep it handy where you can easily get at it to add, take away from or change what’s on there. Go with the premise that nothing is impossible because nothing is impossible.

5 Marketing Ideas Small Businesses Can Implement Now!

Small businesses often complain that a lack of budget restricts the opportunities to successfully market their businesses. Too often they confuse advertising with marketing and believe that placing an ad in the local newspaper will keep the customers coming in.

Below are five simple strategies that small businesses can implement TODAY. The cost to implement them is minimal if not free and they will do more to drive customers to your business than the majority of your current marketing activities. The list is by no means exhaustive, there are thousands of ideas out there but here are five to get you on your way.

1. Offer a guarantee

Guarantees often come in the form of money back guarantee. But by thinking laterally small businesses can provide guarantees that communicate their brand promise clearly and effectively. Guarantees also help to build trust, differentiate you from competitors and create a perception of a reduction in financial risk from the customer. Some examples include:

– Guarantee of product quality. “If your not completely satisfied with your haircut we will give you a full refund”
– Guarantee of service. “We will deliver your new bed tomorrow, guaranteed!”
– Guarantee of price. “We will beat any competitors advertised price by 10%”
– Guarantee of product range. “The largest range of lawnmowers in Sydney, guaranteed”
These are just some examples, the sky is really the limit but make sure your guarantee is strong and is consistent with your brand promise.

2. Create a simple special offer.

The best special offers are often the simplest. They can be as simple a offering a free item with every purchase or even a small gift for entering a store during a specific time. You can also cross promote with other retailers to drive customer traffic. Some ideas are:

If your targeting mothers aged 25-40 with your clothing store you could offer a free balloon (with your logo on it) to every child that comes into your store. It provides a positive experience for the mother and a useful point of distraction for the children so the mother can spend more time looking at (and buying) clothes. Offer a free coffee at a nearby coffee shop for every purchase over a certain value and provide products to the coffee shop for a reciprocal offer. Special offers don’t have to be expensive to, just try to make them valuable to your target audience and time sensitive to try and create a sense of urgency.

3. Start a loyalty program

When we think of loyalty programs we think of the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program or Woolworths Everyday Rewards amongst many others. The concept is the same in terms of generating customer loyalty but for small business they can be really simple. As an example, any coffee shop that does not have a “Buy 10 coffee’s and get one free” loyalty card available are losing revenue as we speak.

I’ve seen a coffee shop take this one step further and have a card file on the front counter where frequent coffee drinkers can leave their card. What a great idea! The card file ensures that their customers don’t forget to bring the card and that the card owner always returns to purchase the coffees. This idea can be applied across most small businesses including hairdressers, corner stores amongst many others. The key is to give your customers a reason to keep coming back to you and not your competitor.

4. Capture an email list of your best customers

Many local small businesses such as clothing stores, restaurants and hairdressers have a list of loyal customers that keep coming back time and time again. In many cases, the only contact small businesses have with these customers is when they return to the shop or salon. All small businesses should aim to capture a list of their best customers on the basis that they will be offered exclusive discounts and offers as part of being on the list. Wineries are particularly good at this where they offer exclusive vintages to their best customers. The winery is often able to sell through the vintage directly to the mailing list and the customer gets an exclusive wine that isn’t available at the local bottle shop. A win-win for both.

5. Host an exclusive event for loyal customers & friends

Loyal customers like your business already and by being loyal they are often the customers that generate positive conversations about your business. You need to make them feel special and give them an opportunity to introduce their friends to your business. Now that you’ve captured their email address, you can invite them and a friend to an exclusive event. Some thoughts are:

– An exclusive preview after trading hours of your stores new summer range of clothing with champagne, hors d’oeuvres and a 20% discount on all clothing. Exclusive only to those on your email list.
– You’ve just introduced a new type of manicure to the services you offer at your beauty salon. Invite your customers to an evening of free manicures and champagne to showcase the new service and say thanks for their continued loyalty.

Exclusive events are a great way to show your customers how much you value them and provide a great way to promote new offers within your business.

6. Under promise and over deliver

Yes it’s an oldy but still a goody. And to illustrate my point I only offered you five marketing ideas in the beginning but given you six. Over delivering does not have to cost you anything. It can really be anything that exceeds the expectations of your customers and creates a positive impression about your business. Some examples are:

– Tradesman that provide additional service over and above what was quoted.
– A discount given to loyal customers outside of sale periods.

The opportunities are endless. The benefits of over delivering are that it gives your loyal customers a reason to talk about your business. It also gives them a reason to recommend you to others and can stimulate referrals that lead to new customer relationships.

These six simple strategies are easy to implement and hopefully they have stimulated your creative juices to come up with ideas for your business. Let me know what you’ve come up with by leaving a comment.

Good luck!

Small Business Marketing Tools to Get You Free Publicity

As far as small business marketing goes, free publicity is gold. It’s not just that you’re getting your company name to the public without having to pay for it; it’s that the news publicity – whether it’s in a magazine, newspaper, or online, weighs more heavily in your prospective customers minds. Even as skepticism reigns, people see information printed by news-type sources (whether in print or online) as being more truthful, more objective, than information that’s paid for by the company (advertising).

But simply sending out a press kit to your local news media won’t guarantee you that free publicity. The cardinal rule you have to follow is that your information must be newsworthy. One of the ways that news media keep their reputation as objective sources of information is that they are – they’re not going to print a thinly-veiled ad for your product or service as a news piece. But if you write a release that accomplishes both goals – offering the news media an interesting, informational story and letting potential customers get to know your product or service – that’s where free publicity really pays off.

To start, you need to develop a press kit as a standard component of your small business marketing materials. Your press kit should include:

Small business marketing press kit component 1: A letter to the editor of the newspaper (or magazine, or internet site) pitching your press release as a story idea. Many components of your press kit can be recycled, but the letter to the editor should change every time to send out a new press release.

Small business marketing press kit component 2: The press release. Your press release is where the journalist will look to find most of the information for her story. In the release, you should describe the news item (the launch of a new product that will revolutionize consumer’s lives, for example). Feel free to quote yourself and others in the press release expounding on the issue (that way the journalist won’t have to contact you or others for quotes when she’s writing the story).

Small business marketing press kit component 3: Your business card. Make it easy for the journalist to contact you.

Small business marketing press kit component 4: Your corporate bio. Journalists often like to add background information into their stories; make it easy by including a corporate bio that offers the important information about your business, including who founded it and when, location, and other interesting tidbits.

Small business marketing press kit component 5: Relevant photos. The keyword here is relevant: include photos of the topic your press release is about. If it’s a new product, offer some interesting photos. If it’s a new day care service, offer some pictures of the employees with the kids. Use photos that will make your story more compelling.

Small business marketing press kit component 6: Testimonials. It can be a great strategy to build quotations from current and past customers right into your press release. But even when you do that, don’t be shy about adding more.

Small business marketing press kit component 7: A data sheet for the relevant product or service. A data sheet with give the details about your product or service (that’s being covered in the press release). Relevant details include pricing, components, materials, size, weight, and part number – if applicable.

You should put all seven small business marketing components of your press kit into a folder – ideally one with your logo on the front to finish off the presentation.

Once you’ve created an appropriate small business marketing press kit, you can think about the kind of media outlets that you want to target. That small business marketing decision should be based on where your customers are – are they online, reading the local daily, or a national newsmagazine? Free publicity won’t mean much if it’s not picked up by your target audience – your prospective customers.

Once you’ve decided the media outlet that you want to target, find out who the managing editor is and send a personalized press kit to her. Or, if the publication is very large, send a personalized press kit to the journalist in charge of your area (for example, the Food journalist if your product is gourmet brownies or the Technology journalist if your product is computer software). You can also send out a press release for mass distribution using one of many online press release wires.