Who said marketing your business has to cost a lot of money? If you're clear on who your ideal customer is and what's important to them when they are buying what you're selling, you are in for a treat.
Today, I'm going to share some of my favorite new resources for helping you get new customers and build more profitable relationships with existing ones -- all on a budget.
1. Get a single phone number. Google Voice has just emerged out of beta with features that will make your small business look bigger. Use their customized voice mail feature to create customized greetings for groups and individuals.
Imagine how impressive you’ll sound when your target customers receive a voicemail message recorded with a focus on what’s important to THEM. How much more professional would you look if you were able to record an important interview or conversation on the spot? Get a single number to give out to customers, contacts, friends and family. Now your customer won’t have to call three numbers to ask a question!
Google Voice is primarily free. The only cost involved is when you want to make international calls.
2. Update your website. If you've been putting off updating your website because of the expense of changing the content and design, rejoice. Start fresh by using WordPress as your web site platform.
There are thousands of FREE template designs released every day. And because WordPress is an open source platform, it's easy to find a developer to make the changes you'd like to make. If you're still skeptical, check out what the folks at Content Robot can do for you.
3. Advertise on TV for as little as $20 per spot. This is NOT a joke. Creating and placing a killer ad on TV is no longer out of reach for small business.
Google TV Ads is making a splash with this easy to use ad placement platform and guess what? Your ad will play on cable television. You can use the "Spotmixer" tool to create an ad or you can choose from among thousands of suppliers who can create the spot for you.
4. Increase the size of your community and build a loyal list of fans and followers. We've all gotten the advice to "run a contest" or "give away coupons" to build and engage your social media community. If you're like me, you've decided to do just that, then stopped in your tracks with exactly how to pull it all together.
Now there's an application out there called Wildfire that will take you from the decision to run a contest or a sweepstakes to the actual launch. Start with just $5 and $.99 per day and then use the revenues you've gotten from your success to work your way up to bigger budgets. Take a tour and visit the blog to get ideas before you get started.
5. Price for profit. Don't be afraid of changing prices in a challenging market. Are you currently using cost plus? Start a value pricing strategy.
First make a list of all the alternatives your customers have, layout the offer and the price. Identify specific features that set you apart and quantify the value behind those features. In his best selling book,1% Windfall, Rafi Mohammed will walk you through process for pricing in ways that not only yield more profit, but more loyal customers.
6. Create a custom toolbar. If you're like me, you might have assumed that creating a mobile app or a toolbar app would either be too technically difficult or expensive. This is simply not true.
First check out Conduit. Whatever can be done on your site can be done on a browser app. Make reservations, order tickets, shop, etc. If you have a business that can use its products, services or expertise to make your customers' lives easier -- this can be a terrific community building and lead generation tool.
7. Do market research. I had never thought of creating a viral survey until I found out that QuestionPro online survey software had a "Connect with Facebook" feature.
This means that you can create a survey, launch it on Facebook and watch it go viral as friends and fans pass YOUR survey on to their networks; who pass it on to their fans and so on. If you are interested in finding out how different segments might perceive or react to a product, service or idea -- give this a try.
8. Make social media simpler. Have you been to Constant Contact lately? No? Well they are so much more than newsletters and email marketing. They've recently acquired Nutshell Mail, a FREE service that will help you keep track of what your customers are saying about you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more.
If you think social media is a time waster, Nutshell Mail is a time saver. You get all your social media delivered in a single snapshot email.
If the primary purpose of any marketing strategy is to get your ideal customer to choose you instead of the other guy -- then these marketing makeovers will get you well on the road to getting chosen without losing your shirt in the process.
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Ivana Taylor is CEO of Third Force, a strategic firm that helps small businesses get and keep their ideal customer. She’s the co-author of the book “Excel for Marketing Managers” and proprietor of DIYMarketers a site for in-house marketers. Her blog is Strategy Stew.