It’s no secret that competition between small businesses is increasing. With more companies entering the market and the online-only industry growing, how do you stand out from other similar businesses?
1. Be active on social media
While social media might seem like a waste of time for some small businesses, it can actually be a great benefit. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are essentially offering you free marketing – an opportunity your competitors are making the most of.
Having a Facebook page or Twitter account for your small business and updating it with information, offers, advice and maybe even the occasional joke will help you get your brand in front of more people, generating more awareness and potential custom. You can learn more about social media for small businesses here.
Top tip: for social media, a chatty, friendly tone works best. Try to keep it light-hearted to make sure your followers identify with you and your brand.
2. Be informational
If there are any questions or issues your customers ask you about, consider answering them on your website. This could be through a blog post, Q&A or even an instructional video uploaded to YouTube which you embed on your blog.
If you take the time to create content that your customers (and potential customers) will find useful you’ll gradually become their source for advice. This brand exposure can lead to sales later down the line, too.
Top tip: bringing in people at a higher stage of the purchasing funnel can pay dividends in the long-run.
3. Business card bowl giveaway
If you run a bricks-and-mortar business where customers will be visiting, consider running a business card competition. A bowl on a counter for customers to place their business cards in with the potential to win a prize works for multiple reasons. Not only does it provide you with a list of email addresses to use in any marketing efforts, but it gives you some free market research.
Looking at the cards, you’ll be able to see where people have come from, what sort of industries your customers are from and notice any patterns in this to use in the future.
Top tip: look for patterns or trends in the cards. If your business is frequented by many people from the same office or industry, is there anything you can do to appeal to them more and bring their friends in too?
Read more about how you can boost your marketing:
- 5 ways to use your content to stand out from the competition
- When should you outsource your marketing?
- Finance directors still unconvinced by marketing spend
4. Invite guest contributors
Your blog doesn’t have to just be about your company – you can use outside sources to help increase its reach. If there’s anyone in your industry who you’ve partnered with or have a close relationship with, why not let them write a post on your blog?
This way you can both promote the post and increase its reach – helping make more people aware of your business.
Top tip: make sure any posts aren’t too salesy to make sure your readers stay engaged.
5. Local PR
Local newspapers and websites are always looking for local businesses or events to cover, and this works in your favour. If you’re planning an event or have reached a milestone in your business (this could be an anniversary, reaching a certain number of customers or anything else newsworthy) then it can be a good idea to get in touch with a local newspaper or site to let them know.
Any coverage will increase awareness of your business, potentially leading to more customers.
Top tip: local newspapers tend to have specific email addresses for different parts of the newspaper. Spending a bit more time looking for the most relevant department email will make sure your email goes to the right people, and stands more of a chance of being picked up.
While for many small businesses, marketing might seem like an unnecessary use of already precious time, the truth is quite the opposite. Without even the most common marketing techniques, a business is vastly reducing the amount of people it could be reaching.
Tom Jeffries is a consultant at Intelligent Business Transfer.
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