The prospect of promoting your business as well as managing it at the same time can sometimes be a daunting task for independent businesses. But it doesn’t have to be for smaller businesses aiming to replicate the same campaigns used by the world’s largest retailers to engage with their customers. Maybe you want to reach a wider audience of potential customers. Maybe you’re simply interested in finding the cheapest but most effective way to promote a campaign. Whatever your intention, smaller retailers can mirror this with these low-cost and easily manageable methods of marketing on a budget to advertise your business effectively.
No matter what you sell, the first step is to understand that promoting your business is as necessary as filling your shelves. Whether that be in-store, online, word-of-mouth or via social media, the business promotion doesn’t have to dent the wallet. You should explore all channels to ensure you utilise all tools available to you. And there are many — below are our top picks.
Plan your attack.
Nothing works better than a well-thought-of plan, so save your time and money by asking yourself the right questions: what is your target market? What type of communication do they prefer? What are their preferred social channels? When is the best time in their buying cycle to promote your business? Use these questions to generate a bullet-proof strategy that is easily manageable based on the resources at your disposal.
If you’re not already that is. Because an online presence should be the first thing for every independent retailer and the key driver for engagement across your channels. So start off with a website that showcases the products and services you provide. If you already have a retail store, you can use Lightspeed EPOS to upload your catalogue and create an online presence that mirrors the items that your customers can find in-store.
Management tools such as Lightspeed EPOS help thousands independent retailers manage loyalty programs, promotions, social media and create an online presence that helps build their thriving businesses.
The next step would be to register your business online to let everyone know where to find your business. Making your business accessible through online directories is a free way to get your brand out there, and there are other directories that charge small fees to list your brand in front of a community of shoppers.
Once you’ve established an online presence, the next step would be to set up social media channels that enable you to engage with your customers and activate passive shoppers who may have not come across your brand yet in real-time.
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest… this list goes on. All platforms are free to use and will cost you nothing but time to manage. A key feature of social media is the fact that news spreads news like wildfire, meaning you can effortlessly find like-minded retailers and independent communities filled with potential customers who may be interested in your brand. Word of advice: don’t spam, but instead make all social media campaigns as targeted as possible so you engage with the right people, at the right time.
Create a community.
Social media is there to spread the word about your business to the ends of the earth, but in terms of engagement with your audience, it’s equally important to think locally. Small businesses thrive on showcasing their business as one that empowers the local community. Flyers, sponsoring a local event or hosting an event in your business are just a few ways that you can help create a community with limited resources.
Collaborate and network.
Further to creating this community, you can use other small retailers to build your brand, cross-promote and draw interest and engagement from each other’s following. This can include bundled promotions, joint social media campaigns and competitions that will help reach a new cohort of shoppers. And what better way to do this than networking? Get to know similar brands, understand what’s out there and create new opportunities — something that will pay great dividends for the future of your business.
Here we have it. Some great ways to take your business to the next level without breaking the bank. The only real cost of time is worth every second spent. The best of part of it all is that you independent retailers can now use systems that encompass all these tools, making it even easier to manage your time better as you look for ways to better promote your business.
Dax Dasilva is the founder and CEO of Lightspeed and a member of Modern Retail’s Editorial Board. Founded in 2005, Lightspeed develops a cloud-based EPOS platform used by over 50,000 independent retailers, restaurants and eCommerce merchants worldwide to run better businesses and process over £12 billion in transactions annually.
Visit https://lightspeedhq.co.uk for more info.