I know. It’s a lot of work.
Not only do you have to run your business, but you also have to take care of promoting it.
But you know, no matter how terrific your product is, if nobody knows it exists, you won’t be able to sell it.
I don’t have to rub your face telling you there are a lot of businesses similar to yours, although you already know what The Expat Copywriter stands for; that none of them is exactly the same as yours and that you know how to do it better.
So you have to shout it loud and clear.
Hiring a marketing agency is something that for many of us is light years away from our pockets and yet you are aware that marketing is essential for your business to experience the success it deserves.
The good news is that today there are many digital or traditional promotion techniques that cost little and only require some of your patience and effort.
The reality is that if you want to have enough customers to be able to make a living from your business and progress with it, you have to dedicate a certain amount of time each week to promote your activity.
This is as important as working with your customers, basically, you have to treat your business as if it was your best customer.
In this post, we are going to talk about traditional and digital marketing techniques that get great results with a derisory budget and very basic knowledge of marketing.
If I were you, I’d stay and read it.
Here we go.
Traditional marketing techniques for anaemic budgets
Traditional marketing is everything you can do to promote your business outside the Internet.
Contrary to what at first might seem to be the case, there are many offline resources that you can use which, little by little and day by day, means you will get known in your city or even in your region.
You already know that the power of word of mouth is strong and will continue to be one of the most effective ways to promote yourself at the speed of gunpowder.
Let’s go by parts.
Do things right and your clients will promote you without having to ask
It’s crystal clear. If your customers are happy with your work and your product they will recommend you to others. That’s why you have to take care of the communication and keep up your promises.
Sometimes you will come across stubborn and difficult customers but the reality is that most people are normal and just want you to do a good job or provide them with a good product.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask them to recommend you to their acquaintances, most of them will do it anyway if they are happy with the results, but just asking will not kill you.
You can also encourage them to write a good review on your Facebook page, Google, TripAdvisor, etc. and recommend you on LinkedIn. Then, you can add those same comments to your website.
By doing this you would also be working on your digital marketing and killing two seagulls with one stone (I know the saying goes “two birds” but I like birds and I’m sorry to kill them, seagulls on the contrary …), as their recommendations will also be read online to reach even more people.
Make cool business cards
This point is something that I was reluctant to do because I’m one of those who thinks we need to save paper when possible and that nowadays with LinkedIn business cards are no longer necessary.
It has already happened to me several times that I found myself in a place where I didn’t have Internet, like in Lebanon, recently, where I had the opportunity to work with someone but I was reluctant to ask for his LinkedIn profile while we were visiting some spectacular Roman ruins so I simply lost the opportunity.
However, if I’d had a business card I could have given it to him before we parted in a completely natural way.
A card doesn’t imply anything since you are not exchanging details and it’s entirely up to the other person to decide whether to contact you.
The ideal situation is that if there has been a good chemistry you might also connect with that person on LinkedIn because that way he will be part of your audience.
But in any case, a card is always a good idea, since it’s something physical that person takes with him and where all your contact details are.
After that trip to Lebanon I made the cards and I take them with me everywhere.
You won’t miss a business opportunity again!
Networking is one of the most important things you have to do to promote your activity and also to learn from other people who know more than you about a topic that interests you.
Surely in your city there are events related to your activity or, if they are not related to your work, are the kind of events where you can meet people who might be interested in what you do.
For example, if you’re a website designer, an event for freelances may be ideal because most freelancers need to have a website.
At the same time, a yoga event can be an appropriate place to promote yourself since you might also find potential clients.
Obviously, if you don’t like yoga, you shouldn’t attend these events; it goes without saying that the topic of the event is what should really interest you. Then, in the background, there will be the possibility to talk to people and get to know each other.
The point here is that you need to get out of the house and meet people, the more people you meet, the more opportunities you will have to get customers. They’re not going to come and knock on your door out of nowhere.
There are events in which you also learn a lot about entrepreneurship or any other subject, so even if you don’t get any customers, having gone will have been worthwhile.
In the unlikely situation that you live in a place where there aren’t any events, you can simply organise them yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything very complicated, it can be a reading club if you like to read, or a cinema club if you love films.
Another great way to promote yourself is to create workshops related to your activity. Let’s look at this in more detail.
You can organize workshops on something related to your activity that you know how to do very well, such as writing or dyeing leather to make handbags.
Whatever you like to teach that can help you spread the word out about your business.
You can choose to give these workshops for free so that more people attend and get more relevance or you can decide to charge a fee so that the people who attend are really interested in the subject and have a profile as close as possible to your buyer persona.
Here we would add some digital marketing practices since whenever you organise a workshop you need to promote it on social media if you want as many people to attend as possible.
At the end of the workshop ask people for their feedback and what they would like to learn at the next event.
Teaching has wonderful effects, it makes you feel good because you’re sharing what you know to help others and at the same time, you’re expanding your knowledge.
In order to prepare a workshop you will study the topic deeper, so by preparing it, you will learn even more about it.
Knowledge is the only asset that grows by sharing it.
It’s very possible that at some event you will meet a wonderful person who does a certain activity that complements yours.
For example, you are a designer and that person is a photographer or a copywriter and you have many things in common.
Take advantage of such an alliance to join forces and promote yourselves together.
This way your service will be more complete and you will also be able to save on resources to promote yourselves, such as organising workshops or creating webinars together.
Also, working with other people can be very enriching because we learn from others and it might be a lot of fun.
Entrepreneurship can be very lonely sometimes.
We’ve already seen a few traditional marketing tools at your fingertips, with a minimum cost, to efficiently promote your business.
Now let’s look at what digital tools you can count on.
Digital Marketing for small businesses with little budget
First things first,
What’s digital marketing?
Digital marketing are those techniques to promote a business on the Internet.
Therefore it’s kind of a new area since it appeared with the arrival of the Internet and has its apogee in this era of massive use of social media.
It’s a relatively new field compared to traditional marketing whose origin is still under discussion, although some experts place it back in the 1920s.
Companies spend a lot of money on digital promotion with social media ads, link building and advertisements on the most popular blogs, etc.
But there are also other ways.
Starting a new business and not having a lot of money to promote it doesn’t have to pull you back.
There are many ways to promote your business on the Internet that don’t cost a lot of money and don’t require a degree in marketing.
They do require time and effort, though, so if you’re willing to allocate the time it takes, here are the techniques that work best.
Write a Blog
Creating content is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to promote your business.
First, because it will give you authority in your field since you offer useful information that helps others in their lives and second because it will be easier for people to find your business on search engines.
Google wants people to find the information they are looking for in a quick and satisfactory manner so if you write useful content that people read, Google will give you priority over the hundreds of blogs that exist today.
To write a quality blog you have to be very clear about who your audience is and what kind of information they are looking for.
In order to have these 2 points very clear you need to study very well your Buyer persona (type of customer) so as to have a better idea of what he wants and what kind of information interests him.
In your blog you shouldn’t limit yourself to talk about your business because you will be boring as hell or, worse, you will sound like a sleazy salesperson; so make sure you talk about what interests the reader.
For example, if you are a coach, talk about ways to reduce the stress in your life, since this is one of the evils society suffers the most nowadays, or if you have a B&B somewhere in the countryside, you can talk about any festivities that are celebrated in your region or about the best hikes to do nearby.
You have to think about the information that interests your buyer persona and help her in her day to day.
Writing a blog takes time and effort but it’s necessary to make your business known and create a list of followers who can become clients or who can recommend you to others.
A blog doesn’t get followers overnight, it’s a time-consuming and disciplined job. The experts of the subject say that you don’t start seeing results until at least after 6 months publishing once a week, or a year, if you publish less frequently.
So arm yourself with patience and start writing.
Make good use of social media
Writing a blog and not sharing it on social media is like writing a book and not telling anyone, you will have a much better chance of people reading your blog if you share your posts on social media.
Apart from your blog posts, you can also share photos, promote events or special prices.
Just like big businesses do you can also use the power of the special offer to win more customers, so offer a discount for a limited time and share it on social media.
To increase the number of followers on social media you need to interact often with comments on other posts, replying, of course, to the comments on yours and posting things often.
You don’t always have to publish things of your own, as this can take a long time, but you can also share other people’ posts, photos or infographics that may interest your followers.
Don’t forget that if you publish something done by others, you must always cite the source in case it isn’t clear on the post, awarding yourself something that is not yours isn’t a good practice.
Social media is there to be used but without overdoing it. I see many people who in order to post something every day become irritating since they repeat themselves or share things without any logic, without any value.
You have to take care of your digital presence because it’s your online personality. If people think you’re a pain in the neck, your efforts may turn against you.
Every time you share something, ask yourself if it offers some value to the people who follow you, if you think it’s not the case, don’t do it. A laugh also contributes something, but of course, it depends on the type of audience you have.
You, better than anyone else, should know your type of audience and, according to your personality and purpose, share certain posts.
Are Facebook and Google ads good for anything?
Sure, but it all depends. From my experience and studying many other cases, I don’t think it’s worth investing in online advertising when you start with your business.
I see a lot of people spending money monthly (even if it’s just a little) promoting posts on Facebook or creating an ad on Google without having much idea why.
The reality is that this money invested in random ads produces the same effect as if you throw it in the bin.
My advice is that you first put many hours into sharing good content and growing your audience organically (without paying).
Now you will be asking yourself, but doesn’t it make more sense to pay in order to gain audience right at the beginning, when you don’t have any?
Well, not really, and I’m going to clarify why.
When we start a business, we very often don’t have a very clear idea yet of who our ideal customer is. We follow our intuition and sometimes make mistakes by wanting to move too fast.
With time and little by little, we will have a much clearer idea of who our clients are, what they need and why they choose us. It’s then that we will be able to make a much better segmentation of the audience and write the texts and choose the images for the ads that will really talk to our segment.
It’s then, with a crystal-clear idea of that buyer persona and what kind of product/service you sell, when you can invest in advertising in order to reach more people.
If that’s what you decide to do, either hire an ad specialist or if you like to learn new stuff and you’re a stubborn “Do It Yourself” person, learn how to do it very well.
There are great courses where they give you all kind of tips to maximize your budget.
I’m not going to add links here because I don’t want to favour any course. Do your research and read the reviews of each course. I haven’t done any yet, so I can’t recommend one from my own experience.
What I advise you is not to do the Facebook or Google course, I mean, you can do them to know how to manage the tools on the platform, but they are not going to teach you how to maximize your budget. Think a little. Exactly, they want you to spend more money on ads.
So it’s better to either become an expert yourself or hire someone who knows how to make the most of your budget.
There are experts in social media ads for any kind of budget, you don’t have to hire a huge agency that costs a kidney, there are also freelancers who do it for less. Put a freelance in your life!
Facebook Live and the Instagram stories
These things are now a trend since it’s true that they attract followers, but they will not increase the traffic to your website much. They can also be annoying as hell and counterproductive.
I’ll tell you why.
The novelty always attracts (that’s why we look at other people even when we are very happy with our partners) but you have to know how to make really good videos for people to continue watching them with interest and interact with you.
There are many videos out there of people with very little imagination, reporting their day to day, or commenting on dull things.
You should polish your videos even more than your blog.
Simply because you are exposing yourself, literally, and they can cause unwanted reactions.
If you want to make Facebook live or stories for your business you have to think them through very well, as well as any YouTube videos.
You need to have a concrete plan of who are the people who might be interested in what you have to say, what exactly you are going to share and how you are going to say it.
Putting yourself in front of the camera without a well thought out plan can create the opposite effect to the one you want.
I think that a Facebook Live has to offer a huge value, like a clever reflection or show how to do something that the audience needs.
As it happens with paid advertising on social media, I don’t think it’s convenient to make videos in the early stages of your business because you’re going to have two people connected and it’s not going to be very flattering.
You can get a lot more out of it if you make them when you already have some followers and with the goal, of course, to increase the number.
For the Instagram stories you have to do a lot of work too, and share something funny or useful. Many people publish a story every day, but they might as well not do it at all.
I know I’m being categorical in my opinion on this, but I see a lot of frustrated cable TV presenters and a few worthwhile stories.
I don’t know, judge for yourself.
I wouldn’t jump into the pool until these 3 points are well defined:
- What exactly do I want with the video?
- Who is my audience?
- Which value am I offering to this audience?
When you have these 3 things crystal clear, then consider the videos and stories, but not before.
There are many more digital marketing techniques that you can use and we can continue talking about them until tomorrow but I can’t add more information in this post without making your head explode.
The important thing to remember here is that to become an excellent DIY marketer you need to have a very clear idea of who your customers are and how you are going to help them.
I hope that this essential marketer’s guide has helped you and that you can put some of these things into practice to attract more customers to your business.
If you have any doubts, ask me, I love to talk about this!
Thank you for reading and see you next time.
I write web copy and engaging content for businesses without borders. I live in the Netherlands, I write everywhere. I love arthouse films and books that make me think. Tolstoy and Chekhov are my life coaches.