Effective, Budget-Friendly Strategies for Attracting Customers
Unfortunately, when attempting to attract customers, a small business’ biggest obstacle is its size. Because its footprint is so much small, so too is the size of its operating margin. This translates into an even smaller marketing budget, if any exists. If this describes your situation, don’t despair! In today’s ultra-connected world, there are more ways than ever to attract customers that will only cost you time and a little creativity.
Whatever products or services you sell, there are bound to be complementary products that another local small business is selling. Find these synergy opportunities and form cross-promotion partnerships. For example, an auto shop might partner up with a tire shop. Or, a local gym might join forces with a local fitness apparel retailer. Seek out those partnerships and join forces to cross promote each other.
Here are some ways to cross-promote:
- Incentivize – offer discounts or incentives to customers who patronize one another’s businesses.
- Advertise – each person can allot a certain amount of advertising space in each others establishment with posters, flyers, and more. Note: partners can also arrange to share advertising space in newspapers and magazines.
Seek Community Involvement
Get involved. The best type of advertising is word of mouth. To garner word-of-mouth endorsements, you have to create local advocates for your business. Seek out your local community and give of your time and, perhaps, your place.
Some ways to created local advocates:
- Host an Open House – Whether you’re opening your doors for the first time or unveiling some new products or services, hosting a special open house gives customers a personal connection with your business because it allows you to introduce yourself. You will no longer just be a business; customers will now be able to put a face to your name.
- Network – seek out the organizations that compliment your services and get involved. For example, if you sell outdoor fitness equipment, seek out and participate in outdoor fitness enthusiast groups. Offer your business location as a place to hold meetings, or offer a discount to its members. Also, use social media to connect with enthusiast groups online.
Create a Rewards Program
Another method used by large businesses to create customer loyalty is the use of barcode-imprinted rewards cards that track customer purchases and provide discounts. While popular in their use, these systems can be too costly and complicated for small businesses to use.
Here are some affordable customer reward program alternatives:
- Punch Cards – For a few bucks, you can make a quick trip to your local office supply store and order some simple business cards that have a punch card design. With each purchase, the customer presents the card at the register and you or your employees punch out or sign the appropriate purchase quantity. After a certain amount of punches are made, the customers can turn in the card to redeem a special incentive, such as a discount off their next purchase.
- Go Social – First, set up some quick, daily deals on online coupon sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. Then, get onto Facebook and Twitter and post links to these online deals when they go live. This gives customers incentive to follow you on social media and fosters active loyalty.
Whatever strategies you do employ to attract customers, ensure they are focused on one goal: creating advocates for your business. When consumers make the transition from customers into strong advocates for your business, the word-of-mouth promotion, brand loyalty and goodwill that ensues will be more beneficial to your business success than any million dollar marketing campaign.