When you’re just starting out and growing your brand new entrepreneurial baby, money tends to be tight, and we start looking for ways to cut costs. It seems that, generally, the first thing to be cut is marketing, if that was ever even in the budget to begin with. Sometimes, with all the excitement of making our new business idea materialize into a reality, and with all of the details that come along with launching it, marketing our new business is the last thing on our minds. But here’s why that’s a terrible idea.
The possibility of growing a successful business with little to no marketing, especially here in my home town, Helena, MT, is slim to none. Don’t get me wrong, before I get a ton of comments or emails from successful small business owners claiming that they grew their huge monolith businesses from nothing but word of mouth, let me also say that there are rare cases where success seemingly sprang out of nowhere.
But rest assured, they are the exceptions, not the rule. The SBA reports that nearly 80% of small businesses fail within the first 18 months. Those are sobering numbers.
In these days, good old 2018, you NEED to have some sort of marketing plan in order to grow your business. Let’s face it, Helena, MT, along with many other smaller US towns, is a great place to live, but it’s not always easy to get a new business off the ground and running. We know this to be the case with the countless number of new business that we see go under every month, and some of these are even large corporations or chains. So what makes them fail? Customer service is a huge deal, of course, but let’s say that’s not an issue for you.. The next most important question to ask yourself is this; Do I have a solid marketing plan? If the answer to that is ‘no’, or even a just grimace and a ‘welllll….’ then it’s time to seriously consider a strategy. Here are my top 5 favorite ways to market a business in Helena, MT on a budget.
- Think outside the box. It’s important to get creative and think about your target audience and where they spend a lot of their time. Are you a new sporting goods store hoping to sell your brand new design for a snowboard? Try talking to the owners of the local ski resort and ask about testing out your gear or attending promotional events there. Are you into car detailing? Try talking to local new and used car lots or body shops about possible work.. Get it? Go where your audience is. Frequently, you can get a whole lot of something for practically nothing.
- Generosity and Reciprocity. Just like in a relationship, if you’re hoping to meet someone new, you may have to make the first move. Often, it helps to offer something to your potential prospect. “Can I buy you a drink?” in the dating world is the equivalent of “Can I offer you 25% off your first visit” in the business world. At the risk of sounding chauvinistic, in short, it helps if you put yourself out there and offer something first if you want someone to reciprocate your generosity by becoming a client.. or lover.
3. In bound marketing. The terminology sounds more confusing than it really is. All in-bound marketing is, is attracting customers through social media, blogging, search engine optimization, branding, and so on. The best part is, it starts out cheap, actually free, but depending on your avenue and how many people you are targeting, the cost goes up. But, social media is enormously popular so it’s a tremendous place to start and how can you not use it?
4. Out bound marketing. Radio, podcasts, and the newspaper are all forms of outbound marketing, and are also a great avenue to explore. Did you know you can submit a press releases to your local newspaper about your new business for free? Well you can, and you should. The Independent Record, our local Helena newspaper, has been pretty accommodating, printing every press release I’ve ever submitted so far. Are you a new brewery in town? Try asking to be a part of a podcast centered around brewing so you can promote, promote, promote! The possibilities are endless!
5. Biz to Biz is a network for local businesses where you can get together for support and mentoring, and discuss ways to advance your business. Cooperative advertising, or sharing the costs of marketing between 2 businesses in a way that is beneficial for each, is super business savvy! Check with your local Chamber of Commerce and ask if there are similar networks available in your area. And of course, the best part is, it’s low cost.
So fear not, small business owners of Helena, MT. With a little initiative mixed with creativity, your small business will be a huge success story too. Next step, taking over the world.