For any small business, it’s easy to look across the room and get dismayed when you a stud athlete and you’re just trying to make the team. This sports analogy is apt when feeling inferior compared to the outreach of gigantic corporations with millions of advertising dollars being spent to raise brand awareness.
Like a swiss army knife, small businesses have to utilize multiple resources at their disposal so they can gain a following and increase their brand popularity. One common question facing all entrepreneurs is, how can I grow my business on a tight budget?
Content, Content, Content..
It doesn’t cost money to churn out content. Do your research in your industry, find the latest news, read forums, read blog posts and gain off-shoot ideas, constantly brainstorm, and discover what your audience is inquisitive about.
Content drives traffic. It’s that simple. Google loves content that helps users, and by constantly feeding people their daily dosage it helps your website get recognized and your content gets shared socially.
Do your due diligence on keyword research using the Google Keyword Tool to insert useful keywords into your content (however, don’t spam keywords just for the sake of it, make sure the content makes grammatical sense and that the keywords fit in the appropriate places).
Keywords drive traffic, so including them in your content ensures that people can find your useful information.
Set aside small amounts of money for advertising
When Facebook first opened its doors to advertisers, you could average out at approximately 3 clicks for every 5 dollars; today that cost has grown to 2-3 clicks for every 20 dollars spent.
Another aspect is using SEM, since you can control the budget it is easier for you to decide how much you want to spend to bring in traffic.
Facebook has improved the interface of their advertising backend and has made it possible to target the exact people you’re looking for by their demographic location, and interests.
The cost incurred is not heavy for a small business, and having a fair amount of Likes on your company page is important for providing a sound brand image to would-be prospects.
Consumers today make educated buying decisions, and will thoroughly research a company prior to an online purchasing decision. They do this by searching company background, delving deep into how popular your company is with it’s social media and online presence (they will often look for reviews, forum comments, negative or positive publicity, and if the company is regularly posting on social media accounts). A prospect is far more likely to trust a company with a thriving Facebook account that is posting daily and has plenty of engaged customers as opposed to a company that made a single status post on it’s Facebook company page back in the year 2013.
These little nuances go a long way towards guaranteeing you separate yourself from stale competitors who undervalue today’s educated consumer. Likewise, these platforms provide a way for you to communicate regularly with interested people. Response time and immediate support are highly valued by potential clients.
There are other advertising avenues available that don’t cost much on a per-click basis such as AdWords and LinkedIn, but it’s advisable to learn the ins-and-outs of using all different online advertising platforms for a startup or small business brand. Our suggestion is Facebook, as it tends to be the best bang-for-the-buck available nowadays, but don’t commit your entire budget to one avenue and use the various advertising platforms at different points.
Blogging is your friend
This tidbit plays on the content portion I wrote earlier. It would be a mistake to avoid blogging weekly. It will attract new readers and return readers interested in your insights and expertise in your given industry. It’s also Google friendly because Google wants your website to be updating and writing engaging content.
Post your blog on LinkedIn forums, same-topic groups, Google +, Twitter, Facebook, and witness how quickly your interested audience grows. You want to be an authoritative expert in your industry, but people won’t know about you unless you reach out. Keep tabs on when readers are most engaged with your content through the various social media accounts, and when the best times to post are.
Companies often make the mistake of thinking brand first above all else, but there are top brands that are recognized by the people associated with the company. People connect better when they know who is behind the brand, and you build an intimate rapport with clients. This type of personalization is necessary in our ever-transparent world and gets prospects and readers interested in your story, otherwise you may be viewed as just another corporation looking to dig deep into their pockets.
Putting a face to the brand
Ultimately, transparency is super important. Building trust with your audience is a ground-up experience, it doesn’t happen overnight and prospects keep a checklist of what they’re looking for in a company (is the company addressing all of their needs?). That being said, a great step forward is making your social accounts more transparent to the public world. Create a twitter account and update it regularly, and let the people know that you’re associated with your brand/company through your personal pages. Update your personal social accounts as much as possible, let people know what you’re about and what you enjoy, but also tie things back to your company.
Engagement is key; simply posting your products and promotions is a thing of the past due to the competitive landscape. Differentiate yourself.
Your story becomes important, and your prospects partake in your journey and growth. As your company grows and your follower base, your online following will be happy for your personal success attached with your company, and that intangible value is something you can’t replace monetarily.
Hire Fiverr Services
One of the very cool things that the internet has allowed is a free market for companies providing legitimate high quality services at bargain prices. This is where Fiverr comes in. In fact, I used this exact service to create my own company logo at a fraction of the cost of what it would’ve cost me if I had gone to a professional graphic design/logo creation service.
You can choose from a plethora of online services useful for all size companies, see client reviews, turn-around time, and chat with your free lancer instantly. In nearly all cases you also get unlimited free revisions, so if you’re unhappy with your service you can simply ask them to revise at no additional cost. All this for a few bucks is indispensable for small businesses.