Small businesses need to market to their audience effectively—period! In the days before social media and the internet, companies spent huge sums on visual ad campaigns that involved billboards, painted signs and posters, TV and magazine ads, and eventually commercials. Nowadays, this type of marketing is not only old-fashioned and expensive but becoming irrelevant, too. The majority of consumers read their morning news on a tablet, shop online, and communicate with friends and colleagues throughout the day via email, social media, and smart phones. While TV commercials and magazine ads are still a costly, chic way to market, the majority of small businesses don’t have the kind of budget it takes to advertise through these media. Besides, the average adult’s attention span is around 6-8 seconds, so it’s almost a waste to spend thousands of dollars on TV and print ads that may be muted, overlooked, or tossed out.

Fortunately, today’s small business owners can benefit from a wide, growing variety of platforms to market their businesses that weren’t available in decades past. One of the major benefits of the print-ad era ending and the rise of social media marketing is that you have the ability to learn so much more about your target audience and market specifically to your niche, instead of whitewashing with ads. From face-to-face networking to cross-promotion, there are plenty of ways to market your small business creatively, affordably, and in a way that develops valuable relationships with your market. The following are 5 unique, effective ways to market to your list.

1. Sponsor a Local Event
Spend some time getting to know your ideal customer, whether it’s via a software platform like Google Analytics or your own insight and research, and find out where your client spends time and what events they attend. Sponsor events where your target audience is likely to spend time like community fundraisers, conventions, marathons, and classes. This is a local, community-based approach will help you develop personal relationships with clients—which is priceless—and give you even greater insight into what your clients need and want.

2. Cross Promote
Team up with relevant, complimentary businesses in your area and budget share. You can cross promote via online ads, social media platforms, classes, events, conventions, flyers, and word of mouth. Promoting your businesses together builds credibility and communicates to clients that you understand the scope of their needs and wants.

3. Ask Clients for Referrals and Testimonials
Recommendations and word of mouth are still some of the best ways to attract customers who will stick around and spend a lot of money with your business. When you know a client is satisfied, don’t be afraid to respectfully and professionally ask them to refer friends or write a short testimonial for your website. You can even include client testimonials and reviews in your weekly business ezine.

4. Discount and Give Away Work
When you’re starting out—and even after you’re established—one of the easiest ways to draw new clients and keep existing clients is by offering discounts, promotions, and even giving away a sample of your product or a free hour of work. Clients who get a taste of what you do and feel that you are generous will come back for more.

5. Build Relationships With Existing Clients
It’s less expensive to keep current clients than to try to get new ones. Today’s economy demands that businesses offer a personal, trustworthy relationship to clients as part of the product or service they’re selling. Develop relationships with your client list by meeting in person or on the phone, asking for feedback, marketing with email or social media campaigns, creating Pinterest boards, hosting MeetUps or free teleseminars to talk about your work or offer a service, humanizing your work through a business blog on your website, and learning all you can about the clients you have.

What creative ways have you reached out to your list? What worked the best and what flopped?


About the author: Jennie Lyon

Hello. My name is Jennie Lyon, I am the owner and founder of Jennie Lyon Virtual Assistant Services. It’s nice to meet you!

I have worked with dozens of entrepreneurs over the years – from coaches, marketers, and productivity experts to consultants, doctors, and executives—helping them streamline their businesses and build their brand. The areas that I specialize in are social media, content creation, email marketing, administration, and client relations —however, I offer a lot of other services too.

This article was first published by Jennie Lyon