Building a small, local business from the ground up can be challenging, especially in the first few years. There are many reasons that small businesses fail in their first few years, but one of the biggest reasons is because the business is outcompeted. This tends to happen when the new business does a poor job of marketing themselves and driving new business.
A good marketing strategy will lead to increased brand awareness which is crucial to driving new business and bringing in new customers. Another reason that many small businesses fail is because of cash flow issues which tends to make it difficult to market their products or services because they can’t afford to pay for marketing costs. We’ve all heard the saying, “You have to spend money to make money” which is true but at the same time, you can market your business without spending a fortune.
Here are a few ideas to help increase local brand awareness without breaking the bank:
Use Your Vehicles to Advertise
One of the most inexpensive ways to advertise your business locally is by using your company or work vehicles and those of friends and family. Custom lettering, for instance, is inexpensive and easy to apply. You can add your company name, website, phone number, services, etc and add the lettering to your company vehicles. This allows you to advertise your business anywhere those vehicles go and it costs next to nothing.
Local Directories & Business Listings
Another great way to get the word out about your business while spending little or nothing is by using local directories and business listings sites. Most of these sites offer a free listing option that costs nothing. There are the most commonly used sites like Yelp, Google, BBB, Local.com, Merchant Circle, and more but there are also hundreds of other sites you can use as well. Just do a Google search for the top 100 local citation sites so you know where to start.
Make sure that you add as much information about your business as possible and add in whatever details the listing allows (images, description, hours of operation, pricing, etc). Also, encourage your customers to leave you reviews on the top review sites like Yelp and Google to help your listings rank higher and drive more business.
Merchandise & Swag Giveaways
Another affordable option for driving local brand awareness is by using branded merchandise and swag giveaways. They don’t have to be expensive to be appreciated. One of the go-to items for promotional gifts are t-shirts which are a great way to increase awareness of your brand at a reasonable cost but the price of t-shirts can be a bit steep when purchasing a large order.
Try getting simple items like stickers, branded water bottles, stress balls, or any low cost item that would likely be used on a regular basis. This will help keep your brand and company name in the minds of the customers or potential customers that you give your gifts to. It will also reach the people who come in regular contact with the recipient.
Social Media Company Pages
Lastly, you’ll want to make sure that you set up a social media page for your company on all the major social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc… These are all provided for free and, while they may take up some time to set up if you’re not very familiar with the platforms, they are a great way to reach more people without having to spend money. That being said, many of these platforms do offer affordable advertising if you do have a marketing budget.