If you would like your small business to flourish and grow, you need to offer unique products or services that people want. Furthermore, you must provide the atmosphere, incentives, and customer care that will keep them coming back. This, in turn, will encourage them to spread the word about your establishment to their friends and acquaintances.
While all of these things are absolutely vital, you are still missing a crucial piece. You will never be able to accomplish your goal of expansion until you implement advertising strategies that will help you market your company to potential customers.
For many entrepreneurs, especially those just starting out, the idea of advertising can be extremely daunting. If you are operating on a shoe-string budget, how can you possibly drum up enough funds to mount an extensive marketing campaign? Fortunately, technology offers many tools that you can use at little-to-no-cost to accomplish your mission.
Read on to learn how you can harness these tools to promote your business’s success:
1. Take Advantage of Frequently Used Websites
Let the power of the Internet go to work for you by linking your business into some of the most commonly used websites. Start with Google My Business, which allows you to post information about your business that can then be accessed by potential customers when they do a Google search. Your hours of operation, photos, promotions and pricing information are just a few of the tidbits you should communicate.
Yellowpages.com and the Yellow Pages app are also great ways to tell your customers where you are and what you’re all about. If you’ve been in business for a while, also take time to set up a business profile on Yelp, a very popular review site where your satisfied customers can do the advertising for you.
2. Write Your Own Success Story
Blogs have become a trendy way for individuals and businesses to establish their own unique sounding boards online. Because most blogging tools cost nothing, you have nothing to lose by setting up a site of your own. For instance, WordPress is absolutely free and enables you to take advantage of numerous third-party add-ons that will help you craft a polished and compelling site for your business. You can also use it to link to your social media pages as well as your YouTube channel.
That brings us to another important point: If you do not already have a video presence online through sites such as YouTube, you need to quickly update your marketing strategy to include this advertising powerhouse. After all, countless careers have been built solely on this totally free and globally accessed audio-visual platform.
3. Pound the Pavement
Taking advantage of online opportunities is important, but that doesn’t mean you should say goodbye to the tried-and-true methods that have worked for entrepreneurs for years. These days, it costs little or nothing to print out your business cards, which you can even design yourself. Distribute your cards far and wide and include a coupon or other promotion to bring customers to your door.
In addition, don’t forget to take advantage of community bulletin boards in health food stores, supermarkets and churches. If you have friends who own their own businesses, ask if you can display a stack of your cards in a prominent place in their store. (And be polite: Offer your friend the same benefit in your establishment.) If you have access to condominiums or apartment facilities, consider slipping one of your cards under people’s doors. Don’t be shy; good old pavement-pounding really does work.
4. Make Your Presence Known In Your Community
The more visible your brand is in your community, the better your chances of attracting new customers. Believe it or not, you can raise your visibility at little or no cost. Get a team together for a local charity run and be sure the T-shirts they wear show your store name prominently.
If there is a philanthropic event coming up, donate some of your products or services. Not only will you be doing a good deed, but your name will be included on the event’s literature. Take out a very inexpensive advertisement in a local high school production. You will be doing the kids a service while simultaneously increasing your business’s visibility.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help
As you can see, there are numerous ways to promote your business. There may come a time, however, when you need an infusion of capital. Perhaps you want to initiate an ad campaign that involves more sophisticated marketing tools. Or maybe you wish to hire a consultant to help you jump to the next level. Whatever the reason, you don’t need to have a million-dollar budget to make it happen.
Did you know that the federal Small Business Administration has been put into place specifically to help companies like yours?
Their mission is to strengthen the American economy by giving incentives to banks and other lenders to provide SBA loans both large and small.
Alternately, if your company is new or if your business credit leaves something to be desired, consider a merchant cash advance loan. In this type of financial arrangement, you get a cash advance from a lender in a matter of two or three days. To pay it back, the lender takes a percentage of your daily credit card sales, plus fees, until the loan is resolved.
Starting and maintaining a small business is no easy task, so do all you can to stack the odds in your favor. Combine as many strategies as time and energy will allow. Develop an online presence, community awareness, and a never-give-up attitude. Don’t be afraid to get financial help if you need it and never lose sight of your original mission.
Keep Your Business Running Smoothly With These Amazing Tools
It is no coincidence that a high percentage of small businesses fail within the first five years.
Developing a coherent plan, raising capital, establishing your unique niche and the inventory that go along with it all take incredible amounts of time and energy.
Once the furor of planning and implementation dies down, many entrepreneurs simply lose the spark to succeed.
How does that happen after all of the hard work they have put into their establishments?
Although there can also be many other contributing factors such as outside competition or economic downturn, perhaps the most insidious culprit is the lack of maintenance strategies that can take a business into a period of true stability and maturity.
Read on to learn about some of the many tools and strategies you can adopt to keep your business moving in the right direction.
Money Management Tools
Capital flows through your business in numerous ways: credit card transactions from your customers, employee payroll, paying for company expenses and much more.
Don’t let yourself get bogged down in all of the flying capital. Keep a handle on it with these tools:
You don’t need to dread filing expense reports anymore if you use this inexpensive and intuitive software.
Simplify the entire process by having the ability to scan your receipts, track expenses on your mobile devices and reimburse with a single click.
There is a free version as well as a no-cost, 30-day trial on a more feature-rich corporate and team package.
A household name these days, PayPal offers business owners like you the ability to easily accept online credit and debit card payments from customers.
There are no sign-up costs, and you can even accept recurring payments.
If you have hourly employees, you might feel as if you spend half of your time wrestling with their time cards.
Enter TSheets, available with a 14-day free trial.
This GPS app enables your employees to enter their time right from their cell phones, also allowing you to combine everyone’s timesheets with ease.
Now that you have timesheets under control, do the same when it comes to paying your workers.
You have two months to test this payroll software at no cost. ZenPayroll gives your employees access to an online portal that allows them to update their information themselves.
Then all you need to do is run weekly, biweekly or monthly payroll with a few clicks, and everyone is happy.
Although we don’t always want to admit it, there are times when even the most proactive business owner needs a loan.
Perhaps you need to upgrade your office equipment or update your inventory to remain competitive.
Maybe you have a lot of outstanding invoices that are holding you back from putting out the cash you need to pay the rent.
Whatever your situation, there are numerous short- and long-term solutions that can give you the capital you require.
As your work life becomes more complicated and you hire additional employees, it becomes ever more important to know where everyone is and what they are doing.
Use these tools to reduce the time you spend searching for people and scrambling around aimlessly.
This ultra-convenient app lets you poll all of the people you are inviting to a meeting to find the optimal time to get together.
It saves you hours of back-and-forth emails and complicated spreadsheets. Just pick the time that works best for everyone and you’re done.
Coordinating the weekly shift schedules of your employees can be both time-consuming and frustrating.
Let When I Work do most of it for you by tracking all of your workers’ availability, creating a shift schedule based on this information, letting employees know when they will be working and giving them the option to trade with their colleagues.
There is a free one-month trial for this program, and the on-going fee is well worth its small price.
If you own a therapy practice, salon or any other pay-per-hour service, this tool lets your clients book online.
Just integrate it with your business website and you’re ready to roll with this free service.
Business Tools for Scheduling & Money Management: The Bottom Line
As the old saying goes, the devil is in the details.
They are often what trips up a harried business owner, and missing important ones can be disastrous for the long-term success of your enterprise.
Tap into the many low-cost and free tools out there, and you too can become as streamlined and efficient as a lean startup.