Once you have set up a small business, the first major challenge you are likely to face is that of marketing it. You have to get people to know about the newly set up business. Only then can they (subsequently) start thinking of buying whatever products or services the new small business is selling. Look at it logically: people won’t surely be in a position to starting buying the products or services you are selling in your small business, unless they know about the existence of the business in the first place. So the challenge is in getting enough people to know about the business, and then also in getting them to consider buying whatever the business is selling.
When it comes to marketing a small business, you may not have enough money to run the big-time advertising campaigns that well established businesses run through the media. In other words, the marketing options that are available and viable to big businesses may not be available or viable to you. Your marketing budget will probably be very small, yet you have to do so much with it. So the challenge is in getting the targeted people to know about the business (and consider buying whatever it is selling) on a shoestring budget.
All said and done, when it comes to marketing a new small business, you need to (among other things):
Get proper signage for the business
The idea here is to get the people who pass by the area that the business is located in to know about its existence. Once people know that at such and such a location there is such and a such a business dealing in such and such products or services, that would be a major step forward. In future, whenever they need the product or service you are selling, they are likely to (at least subconsciously) remember the business. Just think about it. Is it not true that whenever you wish to buy a given product or service, your mind tends to flash back to where you usually see signage for businesses selling that type of product or service?
The most important thing here is to ensure that you use high quality and conspicuous signage. High quality signage gives the impression that yours is a ‘serious’ business and people are therefore more likely to trust it. If you are in an area with a lot of human traffic, you may actually be able to get enough customers this way. That would be where folks who usually see your signage soon or later opt to pay your business a visit, when they happen to need whatever product or service you are selling.
Thankfully, good quality signage need not be particular expensive, especially if you work with local graphic designers and local signage products vendors.
Get your product display right
The idea here is to get the people who are passing by the area that the business is located in to see the products on display. Then in the future, whenever they need the products in question, they are likely to (at least subconsciously) remember the display they usually see at such and such a location. You also have to remember that people usually remember to buy various items when they see them on display. So it is very important to be careful when it comes to product display.
Use your personal networks to market the business
This is about letting your friends, relatives, neighbors, acquaintances and so on know that you have started a business dealing in such and such products or services. Subsequently, whenever they need the product or service you are selling, they are likely to consider buying from you. And if they find whatever you are selling good, they are likely to become repeat customers, and to also tell others about your business. Over time, you could get enough customers this way. The most important thing is to ensure that what you are selling to people is truly a high quality product or service.
There have been cases of individuals who have leveraged upon their personal and social networks to get enough clients for their businesses without having to use any other marketing strategy. So it is an approach you need to take seriously.
Use social media to market the business
This is about for instance setting up Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for your business (which costs nothing). Then you would know that individuals using such social media platforms to search for the products or services you are selling within your locality would be able to find your business. Some of the social media platforms also allow you to run ads, and the advertising programs cost very little to start with. You can also use your personal social media accounts to let your ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ to know that you are running such and such a business, selling such and such services. You would then know that whenever they need the product or service you are selling, they are likely to contact you. It may look tedious, but this is how you build a business in the long run.
Set up a website for the business
Setting up a website for a small business is not as expensive as one may fear initially. It is the sort of thing you can do with as little as $100. There are content management systems like WordPress that you can use to set up a professional-looking website without spending too much money. You can register a domain name for as little as $10 per year and pay for a monthly web hosting package for as little as $10 per month…So it is not really a costly affair.
Once the business’ website is up and running, you can optimize it for the search engines. This would be to ensure that whenever folks who happen to be looking for whatever you are selling undertake local searches related to it on Google (or any other search engines), your business comes at the top or near the top of the search results. You can also invest in advertising on programs like Google Adwords, so that individuals who happen to be conducting searches related to the products or services similar to what you are selling find your ads at prominent positions. Again, this is the sort of thing you can get started with for as little as $100.
That approach to marketing has several advantages. For one, it serves to give the impression that yours is a ‘serious’ business – to the extent that it has a website and to the extent that it is able to put up Google Adwords ads! That is the subliminal message that people will get from the entire affair. And secondly, it helps you to reach individuals whom you couldn’t reach in any other way. That would include individuals you couldn’t reach using signage and product displays (for instance, individuals who don’t usually pass by the area your business is located). It would also include individuals whom you couldn’t possibly ever reach through your personal and social networks.