How to Promote Your Small Business Without Spending a Fortune!

by : Glen Smyth

Through starting my own small businesses, I have learnt that what the marketing books tell you is not necessarily always appropriate for your business idea.

Let me illustrate by highlighting some of my mistakes!

MISTAKE NO. 1: Don’t get sucked into traditional advertising

Many who start their own business, immediately think of some of the more traditional forms of advertising.

They rush out and put an expensive advert in their city newspaper, purchase advertisements on the radio, or even invest in TV commercials!

I’ve made this same mistake!

When launching a new product I believed my best option was to put a full page advert in a popular financial magazine. Their statistics told me that 150,000 people read this magazine every month. Even if I only got a 1% response that would equate to 1500 sales!

Well either I had a bad ad, or my ad was too far into the magazine, or it was just a dumb ego-driven idea, but I spent $7,000 for this ad which was supposed to launch my product into super-stardom!

Do you know how many sales I got from this ad? TWO!!!!!!!!!

Can you imagine the wave of depression that swept over me! $7,000 for two sales! That was $3,500 for each sale – and my product only cost $100 each!

MISTAKE NO. 2: Don’t spend money just ‘building your image!’

Traditionalists will say that you are building your brand and image – but I say that’s garbage!

When you’re a young, small business struggling to cover your basic costs, you can’t afford to just ‘build your image’!

Every advertisement you run should pay for itself and make you money – otherwise don’t bother!

Imagine if you employed a salesperson who never made any sales. Would you excuse them and say – “It’s okay – You’re building my image!"

Of course not – you’d fire them and get somebody else that could give you a profitable return on your investment.

MISTAKE NO. 3: Don’t spend a dollar unless it makes you three dollars!

What’s a good measure of a profitable return?

A recently read about a young guy who has an online business and he explained that for every $1 he spends on advertising he expects a return of $3. One dollar for his ad, and two dollars clear profit!

But can you do even better than that?

There are many strategies you can use to generate business for very little up-front costs.

Here’s a list of low-cost ideas you can apply to your business promotions:

  • Email Marketing – whether you send one email or 5000 emails the cost is the same! Make sure you only use names of people who have ‘opted in’ to your list to avoid spam complaints!
  • Develop joint ventures with other small businesses Eg. Imagine what a Video Store and Pizza shop side by side could put together with a joint promotion?
  • Learn how to write your own press releases and create free advertising for your business
  • Provide a low-cost incentive for your existing clients to refer you to their friends Eg. 10% off their next purchase from you
  • Create your own email newsletter (ezine) and provide useful tips and information to your market
  • Can you incorporate Ambush Marketing? Eg Turn up at major crowd events and advertise your product or service.
  • Turn your car into a Mobile advertisement with signage or stickers
  • Use your personal adventure exploits as media opportunities. Eg Richard Branson and his hot air ballooning. (It doesn’t have to be quite as big – but you get the idea!)
  • Make your building or premises an advertising sign for your business
  • Write articles for your local community newspaper on your area of expertise
  • Become the expert for your local or regional radio station with a short, weekly segment
  • Make your service so sensational that you become ‘dinner party conversation’ amongst your clients
  • Join your local business association and network among other businesses.

Be creative!!