Small Business On A Budget

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When starting out, many business owners are faced with two conflicting realities – the need to create brand awareness quickly and the need to minimise costs. It’s a challenge many business owners aren’t aware of until they step out into the unknown, after the relative comfort of the corporate world.

Overnight, marketing budgets drop from whatever you need to make this from – whatever you need to make this work – to whatever is left after everyone is paid, except you. Just at the time you need brand exposure the most, you’re confronted with uncertain revenue streams, greater than normal capital expenditure and the need to negotiate supplier relations with lower bargaining power than ever before. Every dollar spent becomes critical.But it is obvious that your target market can’t select a brand it isn’t exposed to. There are a few simple methods you can use to create awareness without breaking the bank.

Create Excitement Via Free Social Channels

Many small businesses are still reluctant to implement a social strategy. Social media isn’t considered serious enough. It’s time consuming, confusing, something my 16 year old uses. But social media for your business doesn’t have to involve anything overly elaborate or onerous on your part, and it can take as little as a few minutes each day. For businesses that sell tangible products visuals are the key. It could be as easy as taking a photo of one of your products with your phone each morning and posting this photo on platforms that are most visually focussed such as Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest.

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Professional service firms, on the other hand are essentially selling their expertise. So why not demonstrate just how much you know. Sharing news articles or blogs of relevance to your industry will not only provide tidbits of value to your audience but also help to position you as a source of insight in your industry or thought leader in public relations. But whatever your strategy, consistency and patience is the key. It takes time to build up a social following, even if the amount of time invested each day is minimal. The important thing is to cultivate familiarity  with, and interest in, your brand for the moment your audience needs what you sell.

Tap Into Communities Of Interest

When you’re a well established organisation with pre existing brand recognition your sales funnel may fill passively as a result of your massive brand equity. A large budget to spend on search engine optimisation may also bring in sales organically via your website. But when starting out, your sales funnel will need to be built manually from the ground up. Potential clients are unlikely to just appear – you will need to go to them, and present yourself and your brand proposition. The most efficient way to do this – both in terms of time and saving money – is to be present and engaged in the places your target audience and referral partners are already assembling communities of interest. For an accountant, this might mean accounting trade shows. For a winemaker, it could be local food and wine festivals. For a publisher, it might be on – line book appreciation chat rooms. Whatever your product or service there will be a community of people somewhere who is already interested in talking about – and buying –  what you have to sell. Selling to the converted will be the easiest way to build up your sales funnel at the outset.

Change Course If Necessary

When starting out, you may not yet know which approach will provide the greatest return on investment. Some tactics will be more effective for you and your offering than others, and there’s nothing wrong with changing course accordingly. If sponsorship gives you the most traction, and social media none, don’t feel concerned about ditching one for the other. Trial and error will be key for the first few years, so paying attention to what works is paramount.

In closing please find enclosed some examples of products by Channel Islands Surfboards used in store promotions and promotional feeds using social media eg Facebook and Instagram.

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