Working for someone else can be a chore. Perhaps the daily 9-5 grind has got you down, you’re unfulfilled in your current role and see no way out, or you’re fed up working for an organisation that you have no real passion for. Starting your own small business could be the answer – and although it can be hugely rewarding, endlessly satisfying, and make a real change to your life, it can be anything but easy. For starters, you need to raise capital, sort out a business plan, and also make sure you can physically (and mentally) handle the workload, and bring a profit in too. That’s not to mention making sure you build a decent customer base in order to ensure your business gets established…
Promoting a small business these days can seem like a minefield as there are so many routes to go down. Not sure you know your PR from your direct marketing? Confused about print and online advertising? Haven’t got a clue about social media? You’ll need to do some research about what methods of advertising are the right ones for you and your business. Here are a few you can choose from…
1. Print Advertising
This is the most traditional method of marketing and is great for reaching people in a number of ways. You can advertise in local newspapers (good for a product aimed at an older customer base), you can print up flyers and leaflets to deliver direct to people’s doors. Or you can use a product like Helloprint business cards as a tool to get your message across. Using specialist printing websites is a quick and easy way to get a vast quantity of printed material finished to a good standard. The price you pay is a one-off so you’re easily able to factor it into your costs. You do need to consider how you will get this advertising to people – if you’ll be delivering them yourself that will take time away from other activities you could be doing.
2. Direct Marketing
As its name suggests, this form of marketing is aimed directly at your customer. This could be by text message, email, letters, or flyers. This is a great way of marketing if you’ve already got a substantial database of customers. It doesn’t have to cost a lot – especially if you’re using email as really the only cost is that of the time it takes to write the email and send them out.
3. Social Media
If your product or service is aimed at a younger demographic, social media is a great way to advertise your business. A whopping 72% of people are apparently more likely to make a purchase from a small business if they have already engaged with them on Twitter. What’s more adverts on social networking websites allow you to – for a nominal sum – reach a huge number of potential customers who you may ordinarily never have had the chance to reach. If you decide to set up a Facebook advert for instance you can decide how much you want to pay per day and control it that way.
Getting out with your product and meeting people face to face at networking events is a great way to build your business. It doesn’t cost much – if anything – to attend local networking events and as long as you’re prepared, you set out to talk to people, and you are interested in meeting fellow local businesses, it can be hugely beneficial. Grow your network and your customer base should grow too.
5. Engage PR Help
If you’re determined to go in with all guns blazing, engaging the help of a specialist PR firm can be a wise move. This doesn’t come cheap though. However if you’ve got a product that you want to get in the press – TV, magazines, newspapers, influential websites, PR firms can really help you achieve this. A one-off press release could cost anything from £200-£1000 depending on the PR firm. Hiring a PR firm on a regular basis, meanwhile, could start at around the £1000 mark per month and for this they may send out two press releases a month for you. It’s costly, and probably not the best move for small businesses when first setting up.
6. Use Bloggers
Millions of people read blogs every single day, and bloggers need things to write about. Research your favourite blogs and ones that are related to your business and send them out a free sample of your product to write about. This can be a hugely cost-effective way of getting your product out there and if the blogger loves it, hopefully their readers will too. Engaging with bloggers can cost just the sum of the product itself and the price of postage. If you’ve got a product aimed at the youth market – or mum market – blogs are a great way of engaging with customers.
As with everything, it can take time to decide on the right channel to advertise your business through. What works for one business won’t necessarily work for you. Take time to research the potential advertising avenues – and see what other similar businesses have done. Once you’ve thoroughly researched your options, you’ll be in a great place to get the advertising ball rolling!