Wednesday, July 28, 2010

7 Inexpensive and Effective Marketing Tools

If you're a business owner, you are probably looking for ways to promote your business without having to spend a lot of money. No matter what size business you own, you probably aren't taking full advantage of the many opportunities you have for marketing your business in basic ways that cost little or nothing to implement.

Some of these marketing tools that you can utilize include:

1. Business Cards. All businesses should have business cards. This is one of the most cost efficient marketing tools. It should be viewed as a virtual billboard that promotes your business. Don’t just put your logo and contact information – include what you do. The back of business cards is one of the least utilized marketing tools today. Special offers and discounts are good for the back of a business card. Place information on the back that will give the customer a reason to have your business card handy at all times.

2. Emails. A business that does not ask me for my email address does not want my future business. Consumers are very willing to give their email address to a business as long as they perceive they will benefit from the emails they receive. Have an email marketing plan that will benefit your customers and give them reasons to come back. B2B companies should offer valuable information to their customers via email. B2C companies should provide special offers via email. Customers that are satisfied with your products and services will forward these emails to their friends. Nothing is as strong as word-of-mouth.

3. Word-of-Mouth Referrals. A business can be built on word-of-mouth referrals. There is no better marketing tool than a friend’s recommendation. You could not afford a sales force the size of all your satisfied customers and friends. The strongest referral is one from a friend. A satisfied customer is one that received what they expected not just treated nicely. The customers experience when they have encountered your products and/or services, will either build or destroy the power of word-of-mouth. In order to create the type of satisfied customer that will work like a salesman – you must provide a WOW experience.

4. WOW Experience. Customer service is a very important issue for all businesses. The question is – do you provide great customer service or just customer service with a smile? Great customer service can separate you from your competition. It can create or stop a sale. It is who you are!!! Creating a WOW experience for your customers will keep them coming back. Check out this book “Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service” by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles. It has a pretty good formula for creating a WOW experience.

5. Invoices/Receipts. You either send a customer an invoice or give them a receipt. Use this opportunity to promote your business or a specific product or service. It is also a great way to say ‘Thank You’ to your customers – you can never say thank you enough. Messages promoting your website, email newsletter, special event or upcoming sale will cross promote all your marketing tools.

6. Thank You Notes. A lost and forgotten art is the hand written thank you note. If you ship products – drop a hand written ‘thank you’ in the package. If you send invoices by mail – place a hand written ‘thank you’ on the invoice. Any time you send or hand a customer a sheet of paper – it is an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ in writing. This simple gesture will go a long way in building a long lasting loyal relationship with your customers.

7. Online Business Directories. The majority of the world is using the internet to search for products and services. Along with trying to find products and services, people are searching for who has the BEST products and services. The online business directories provide you with the opportunity to list your business with a description of what you offer and it provides a review section for your customers to tell everyone about their experience. The majority of the online directories are free with upgrades that include minimal costs. Your business can appear in internet searches without having a website or landing page when you are listed in the online business directories.

Marketing doesn't have to be expensive to be effective. You have resources in your business you are not utilizing to the fullest extent. These 7 methods are simple and effective for any business no matter the size or industry. Implement some or all of these and see the power of inexpensive marketing.