Bootstrap Marketing Techniques Every Small Business Owner Should UseBANGALORE, INDIA: Marketing is one of the most flexible, high-potential areas where you can maximize a bootstrap budget. There are so many ways you can get the word out about your business, without spending much. Here are five bootstrap marketing techniques that you can integrate into your marketing plan today.
1. Build Your Email List
Email marketing is an economical way to stay in touch with your customers, promote your products, and boost brand recognition. It's a long-term activity that will probably not yield instant sales, but building an email list is one business goal that every small business owner should have.
The first step is signing up with an email marketing service that will allow you to easily collect email addresses, send targeted messages, and track the response. This short list of email marketing services will help you start comparing plans.
The most important thing to remember with any email marketing campaign is that you should make it clear what people are signing up for, promise not to sell or share their email addresses, and give subscribers an easy way to unsubscribe if they decide they do not want to receive messages from you at a later time.
2. Get to Know Your Customers
The central part of any effective marketing plan is a thorough understanding of your target market. The more you know and understand your customers, the easier it will be to sell them what they need and want. And the more you address your customers' needs, the more they will purchase from you and refer you to others. This is why taking the time to get to know your customers is a powerful bootstrap marketing technique.
There are many ways you can get to know your customers and show them how much they mean to you. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Ask for client testimonials and use them in your marketing materials
Send past customers free samples and other incentives to regain their business
Create a customer satisfaction survey and track the results so you can continually improve your business
Send holiday gifts to your most important clients
Collect customer birthdays and send coupons or special offers each year
Create a "frequent buyer" rewards program
3. Use Social Media
You are probably well aware of social sites like Twitter and Facebook, and have seen businesses using these sites to get the word out about their products and services. But social media is a lot more than just Twitter or Facebook. There are hundreds of ways you can use social media to promote your business. Here are a few ideas:
Start a blog for your business
Subscribe to other blogs related to your topic and comment on blog posts consistently
Record videos for your business and upload them to a branded YouTube channel
List your business on Google Places
Start social bookmarking your online content
Create a Pinterest account for your business that highlights your products, services or other resources
With any social media marketing activities, make sure you take time to outline your goals and create a plan before diving in. It may be a quick and easy medium, but you don't want to cut corners when it comes to a well-organized, strategic approach.
4. Give Something Away
Everyone loves getting something for free, so offering a sample or freebie can be a great way to attract new customers. There are a number of ways you can do this, including:
Giving away coupons or samples as a thank you when customers sign up for your email list
Running a contest that gives away a product to the winner
Designing a free teleconference, webinar or local workshop for your target market
One thing to keep in mind is the value of the item or sample you are giving away. You want to provide a good representation of your business so you want the free item to be high-quality, relevant and useful, not cheap. You should also make sure you are not giving away too much; aim for a "taste" that gets your customers wanting more.
5. Go Grassroots
Sometimes, there is no better way to promote your business on a budget than the old fashioned way -- getting out on the street and talking to people. Even if your business is primarily online, you still have a local community with other local businesses, and expanding your marketing activities to include those businesses can be a great way to build support.
Some of the most obvious ways to maximize your local community is by joining the Chamber of Commerce or other local professional organizations. Then, once you do, you want to be prepared with an effective elevator pitch and business cards before you start networking.