Effective Alternative Marketing Techniques for SMEs
Many business people believe that your company can only be as good as your marketing. Your so-called great idea might be very good, but if you don’t take the right approach with your marketing, including promoting it with solid and creative advertising, its success will face very serious limitations. Taking out a full-page ad in a high distribution newspaper might reach a lot of potential customers, but it is also expensive and therefore out of reach for many small businesses. How else can your company make an impact? Here are a four effective ideas.
#1 Charity is Always Good for Public Relations
It’s old news that you need to spend money to make money, but why not put those dollars towards a good cause? There are plenty of low budget ways to make a real public contribution. Try to tailor your support to the work that you do, and avoid doing a plain old monetary donation. Selling cars? Adopt A Highway programs in your area require only a small fee and a bit of time, and give you primo advertising space for the very people you are targeting: local drivers. Selling sports gear? Sponsor a baseball team and get 20 mobile advertisements with families, friends, and teachers.
#2 Use Public Speaking to Show Your Business is Personal
Chances are you are an expert in your field. Even more likely – there is something interesting about what you do that few people know about. Book a public speaking opportunity for yourself or your most gregarious, engaging, or funny employee to speak about a topic related to your company. Don’t plan on a speech that is really an hour long advertisement – invite members of trade associations, corporate employees, journalists, or influential members of the public to come to an event that includes a talk about a topic people want to know more about. For example, a car dealership shouldn’t host a lecture about what they have on the lot – they should talk about the environmental importance of cars that get good mileage. Feel free to make jokes, but stay away from anything related to sex, religion or politics! (Unless that’s your field, of course.)
#3 Pen a Letter to The Editor or Op-Ed
If you shy away from public speaking but would still like to share what you know, send in a letter to a newspaper or website that your customers are likely to read. Try sending a short letter agreeing or disagreeing with an article you have seen. (For example, a web designer could write in response to article about the rise in online purchases to mention the importance of a well-designed homepage.) And feel free to aim high by sending an Op-Ed to a prestigious publication – if they don’t print it, you can always send it somewhere else. The trick is not to think of it as an advertisement – it won’t get printed – but as a letter expressing a point of view. Then just sign with your name, title, and company name. (E.g. “Tim Jones, Vice President of Sales at We Are The Best Media.) Getting published is easier than you would think and will make readers see you as an expert.
#4 If You Haven’t Already, Make Sure Your Website Has a Blog
Blogs are not just important for SEO purposes, they also help position you as an expert on your business’s topic. A veterinarian, for example, can write a post about best pet care practices for the summer or behaviors to watch out for when choosing a puppy. If you promote your blog on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, its visibility will continue to rise, and will likely lead to sales. One recommendation: if you try to make a joke or make a controversial statement, have a friend read the post before putting it up. Was the sarcasm obvious? If not, don’t use it. Was the picture too graphic? If yes, steer clear.