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Sunday, September 28, 2008

11 Low Cost Marketing Tips & Strategies

So, I am an avid reader of Entrepreneur (Entrepreneur.com)... a two year subscription cost less than $30.00. Well, the latest issue, October 2008, had an article in it that talked about low cost marketing ideas. I thought to myself, ‘Great!!! This is exactly the knowledge that many of my customers have been asking for.’ So, I wrote my own article better focused to small business. Here it is.

1. Create a Blog ~ I had been meaning to set one up myself for so long but I just never got around to it. I was always busy doing this or that. Make Time! You can literally set your blog up in less that five minutes. I suggest blogger.com . Their software comes with templates, a semi custom domain name and many more features. Now that your blog is setup, blog. Don’t just set it up and then forget about it. Link the blog to your website, offer specials, list new offerings, give hints and tips….anything to pull your customer in. Take it a step further by commenting on blogs with a similar niche such as candle making, bath & body, etc.

2. Gain Customer Loyalty ~ Face it, in the small business world, you have to work hard to keep your customers coming back. The average consumer’s mind is always thinking ‘Why should I buy handmade for more when I can get mass produced for less.’ Give them a reason to buy from you. Make sure that all items leaving your location are of the best quality, are packaged nice, and even include a handwritten thank you note. Offer a 10% coupon on every fourth order, give a five dollar gift certificate to a customer after their first purchase, offer a 10% coupon just for signing up. All of these things cost you absolutely nothing unless the customer comes back and orders again and chances are, you will make your money back. Customer service is also super important. Respond to ALL emails in the nicest manner you can. One of my favorite things to point out to other small business owners is that customer service is your most important product and that it comes free to every person you speak to.

3. Send Out Newsletters ~ Quarterly, Monthly, Weekly….send out newsletters. Tell your customers about new products, sales, etc. It also helps remind them that your business is out there.

4. Offer an Affiliate Program ~ Chances are, happy customers will promote your business without any incentive but just think what would customers would do if they knew that for every sale they generated they earned 10% commission or a free product of a certain value.

5. Take Advantage ~ How often do you send out packages? How about emails? Chances are, you send them everyday. Take advantage of that. Have custom stamps or packaging made (photostamps.com.) Add your logo, website, and even product information in your signature in emails or on forums. Use all of those invoice and packaging slips to your advantage, too. Most of the time the bottom half will be blank. Print sales info, new product info…anything you can think of in the blank space. If you don’t have empty space on the front, use the back.

6. Customer Reviews ~ Get your customers to place reviews on your website. People do actually take the time to read them. Offer an incentive to consumers to get them to write reviews. You could even add a note to packaging slips or invoices telling about the incentive and how to go about writing a review.

7. Partner Up ~ Find other small businesses and team up with them. Place links to one another’s website on your own. Purchase ad space and divide it. Place information sheets in one another’s retail location or in out going packages. Mention each other in your blog.

8. Banner Exchange ~ Find banner exchanges and sign up. If it only gains you one sale then that is one sale you might have missed before.

9. Use the Internet ~ Create a website. Super cheap and easy to do. Have one already? Make sure it looks very professional. Don’t “junk” it up. Add product and business relevant info only. Don’t add tons of banners to your home page. But you just said sign up for banner exchanges?!?! You are right, I did. Create a separate page for links and add those banners there. Your home page needs to look neat, clean, and professional. The average website visitor lands on your home page first so you need to show them why they should stay on your webpage right there. Have a custom website design done. Sounds pricey? NOT. There are many web designers out there that can design you an amazing template for around $50. Checkout www.gracefulhosting.com/cart/index.php?page=templates . There are a few designers that I recommend. Stay active on the web. Find forums and post regularly (make sure your signature has your web link in it.) It may surprise you but people really do click those links and check out your site even if it is just to get a heads up on the competition.

10. Etsy? eBay? ~ Etsy? I say yes. While your website is a great way to make sales, Etsy is just as good. What makes it a good place to sell is that it is targeted to crafters and buyers of handmade items. You may not be able to add custom info pages but that is why you have a website. Just link the two together. You should also use the Etsy forums regularly. There are people that swear by posting there. eBay? I say no. eBay may see lots of traffic but most of the people that are visiting eBay are looking for bargains, second hand items. Just like you wouldn’t buy retail space next to the liquor store, you shouldn’t rely on eBay as a income source unless that is what your business is all about.

11. Advertise ~ Google Adsense is a very cheap way to advertise. You don’t pay unless people click so no need to worry about how pricey it will be. You can also set a budget for advertising and Google won't go over that amount. You can also place ads in newspapers and magazines both local and nationwide. Buy ads in local school publications. You may not gain sales from the ad but you are showing that you support your community which is very positive for business in my experience.

I hope that these tips and strategies will help your business succeed. If you like the tips I pointed out here, let me know. Leave a comment. Email this link to others, become a follower. I hope to provide info like this more often so check back. Thanks for taking the time to read.

By: Adam Grace
agrace@gracefulhosting.com
Owner of Graceful Hosting & Southern Scents
Copyright 2008

Note~Nothing in this article was taken from Entrepreur Magazine except the idea.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Donna said...

These are some great tips Adam!

September 30, 2008 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger GracefulHosting said...

I am glad you enjoyed them. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you.

Adam

October 15, 2008 at 4:26 PM  

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