Having a small business is taxing, and not just on your pocketbook. If you’re like most small business owners, you can’t afford much help in the beginning. That leaves you to do much of the day-to-day work yourself. On top of that, you have to get the word out about your business. After all, the more people who know about you, the more revenue you’ll have and the better your chances of hiring some help.
It might feel like you’re chasing your tail, but don’t throw in the towel. Check out these four tips to boost your brand awareness without breaking the bank.
1. Social Media
Social media is an inexpensive way to build brand awareness. Ads allow you to target a specific location so people who live in that area will see it in their feeds. While putting money behind your ad campaign will help a lot, you don’t necessarily need to spend any money, and can instead grow your following organically.
Be sure to research your audience before you decide which social media platforms are right for your business. You don’t want to waste time using the wrong platforms, and you definitely don’t have time to try to use all of them.
Use social media to engage with customers and get to know them in addition to advertising for your business. Build a relationship with your customers instead of coming off as too self-promotional. Make sure your posts show the value customers will get. Use bold images with bright colors to stand out in people’s newsfeeds. Remember to respond to all customer questions, comments, and queries—even the negative ones—in a timely manner.
2. Direct Mail
Like social media ads, direct mail also lets you target a specific neighborhood. Unlike social media and email, though, direct mail typically gets noticed easier. Direct mail also has a longer shelf life than a digital ad because people tend to keep it to refer to later.
It’s important to make your mail stand out. Put it in a branded envelope using a script font to address it. People will be more likely to open it because it will look like a personal letter instead of an ad. To that end, use a real stamp instead of a bulk mail stamp. Use direct mail to introduce people to your brand by inviting them to check you out on social media, inviting them to an upcoming event, or giving them a coupon.
3. Community Service
Community service serves two purposes. First, it helps others. Second, it gets your name out there. The scale in which you want to serve the community is up to you, depending on your time and your budget.
One of the more elaborate ways is to organize some sort of area cleanup. It can be in the area of your business or somewhere in your neighborhood, such as a local park. A little less intensive method is to organize some sort of collection. You can accept canned food for local shelters or soup kitchens, pet food and supplies for animal shelters or backpacks and school supplies for area schools. The easiest way is through money. Accept donations and offer to match them up to a certain amount, or offer a portion of your proceeds during a designated time to charity. If you’d rather give time, you also can offer to sit on the board of a local charitable organization. Not only does this get your name out there, it also allows you the chance to network with other board members.
4. Mobile Billboard
Now it’s time to take your brand to the streets! You have to drive places anyway, so you might as well get some advertising in for your brand at the same time. Consider using your vehicle as a mobile billboard with custom window decals, magnets or wraps. You can choose a specific product based on your budget and what will work best with your particular vehicle.
This gives you the opportunity to reach everyone along your commute each day, as well as others when you’re out running errands; imagine all of those bumper stickers, vanity plates and window decals you observe in your daily travels. Plus, it will definitely get noticed during a traffic jam.
Be sure your vehicle design is consistent with all of your other marketing materials. Most importantly, make sure to be on your best driving behavior. You don’t want anyone to associate negative feelings with your brand because you cut them off in traffic.
Owning a small business is a lot of work. There’s more to it than opening a shop and making sure you have enough inventory. You have to get your name out there. But, as the saying goes, “you have to spend money to make money.” There are many ways to do that, but hopefully, these four tips will help you boost brand awareness without breaking the bank.