Grow Your Small Business With Grass-roots Marketing Efforts

By Steve Hauber, Division President, Valassis Local Solutions
Published Wednesday, Jul 13, 2016

Grow Your Small Business With Grass-roots Marketing Efforts

It’s no secret that many small businesses also have small advertising budgets. But there are ways you can make the most of your budget to attract new customers and present your business in a highly professional manner.

It’s About Networking

  • Get some face time – Engage with other small businesses. Attend local business meetings that align with your business model. Join the local Chamber of Commerce and Rotary – these are great avenues to meet with like-minded business owners and share ideas.
  • Get your feet on the street – Hand out business cards and fliers to prospective clients. Drop off fliers or menus at local offices or businesses. Contact churches, schools or other organizations to see if they are planning any activities your business can get involved with or if they have a need for the services your business offers.
  • Get involved in the community – Being a sponsor at a local charity event (i.e. runs, tournaments) has a threefold benefit: (1) you can gain positive exposure, (2) brainstorm with others within your community and (3) gain new customers.

Online and Digital are Key

  • Utilize a website. There are many free or inexpensive, easy-to-use online programs. Get technical help from local high school or college student volunteers. Your site needs to be comprehensive, robust and easy to navigate. Even more important is optimizing your website for mobile and having a mobile app, since apps account for 89 percent of mobile media time with the other 11 percent spent on websites (Smart Insights).
  • Utilize a blog. Blogs are perfect for case studies and success stories as well as topics relevant to your industry or customer. Link to YouTube videos to add an attention-getting visual element.
  • Utilize social media. Sixty percent of small business marketers rate social media advertising as “very effective” or “effective” (salesforce), so have a presence on multiple social media sites to promote your brand. Make sure you are updating your social sites on a regular basis to keep content fresh and interesting to your audience.
  • Utilize online search directories. Google My Business and Bing Places for Business both allow you to list your business for free.

Be Unconventional

The only limit to finding fun and unique ways to advertise your business on a budget is your imagination. Consider community bulletin boards, store shopping carts, public transportation (advertising on a bus or a taxi cab) and movie ads during upcoming previews. Pass out car magnets, bumper stickers, window decals and T-shirts to your employees and patrons.

Email/Direct Mail

  • Direct Mail – Local coupon magazines and direct mail packages are options for getting your advertising message delivered within your local community. Mailing postcards and advertising materials to promote grand openings and special events costs less than you may think. Personalize mail pieces to attract attention to your advertising and make your customers feel special.
  • Email – Customers like to receive offers they perceive as valuable, such as sales, special deals and coupons as well as how-to articles or relevant blogs. Create your own list through email sign-ups at the register, your website, social media, contests and giveaways, loyalty programs and more.

Paid Advertising

  • Radio – Think of it as using the radio to spread your business’ name throughout the local area, rather than as pure advertising. Submit an event for a community calendar. Sponsor a contest giveaway to get your business’ name mentioned. It might take some negotiating, but sometimes you can secure a discounted rate.
  • Newspaper – Consumers go straight to newspaper inserts for deals. Be there with relevant, targeted messages.
  • PPC (Pay-Per-Click) ads – Many of the most popular ad networks offer free advertising credits for first-time users. And even if it’s not free, there is often no minimum – you can set a daily budget and only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

A small advertising budget doesn’t have to mean a small impact. By leveraging a few of the suggestions above, you can maximize your marketing dollars and turn prospects into customers.