The problem with small businesses today is that a whole lot of entrepreneurs go into business with a GREAT idea… and then fail.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that your idea isn’t great! But what business owners and entrepreneurs don’t recognise is that by going into business in the first place, they have to go into the marketing business as well.
According to The Office of National Statistics, 1 in 10 businesses these days are closing down – and just zeroing in on the night life: there are 50% fewer establishments than there were 10 years ago!
And why is that, in an economy that’s on the rise? You could blame the high business rates, or the inability to compete against the leaders: Tesco, Starbucks, Uber… And these may indeed be a big factor.
But if all you’re doing is pumping your money into advertising, that isn’t competition – that’s feeding Mr Advertiser and his family.
SO HOW ELSE CAN YOU MARKET YOUR BUSINESS?
First of all, we need to make it clear what exactly IS marketing’ anyway?
Is it advertising? A bit.
Is it sales? Also, a bit.
Is it logos, signs and posters? Well, that comes into it.
Is it all of these things? In a manner of speaking.
What marketing really is, is the communication of a message – your business’ message – to your prospects, customers, and clients. It’s a message that gets them to know you, gets them to like you, and gets them to trust you.
Nobody gives their money to somebody they don’t trust.
And the way small businesses can compete against the big boys is by employing the bootstrap marketing techniques – the same ones big companies used before they had huge advertising budgets – to build up their own share of the market.
EXAMPLES OF BOOTSTRAP MARKETING TECHNIQUES
What did Starbucks do before they had money to spend on advertising? They spelled your name wrong.
That’s right, each time you took a photo of a wrongly spelled name on a cup and uploaded it to Instagram, that’s FREE publicity for Starbucks.
Remember when Hotmail started? They automatically gave each email a signature: “Get your free email account at Hotmail.com”, causing the message to be spread virally. For FREE.
Google and Microsoft both started out simply by using Public Relations. If there was an industry magazine around, they were interviewed in it. All – the – time.
If you’re already advertising, you can optimise for higher returns just by developing and communicating your Unique Selling Proposition.
Domino’s did that when they declared: “Warm, fresh pizza, delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or your money back.”
We’re not talking about a sexy slogan here, just a promise, a declaration of your differentiation from the “me too’s” on the market.
Consider this: when the consumer is faced with “me too” businesses everywhere, the only way they’re able to choose is based on price. But when you compete on price, you lose. Every time.
7 WAYS TO BOOTSTRAP YOUR MARKETING
Bootstrapping your marketing isn’t a new concept.
It’s the way most of the big guys had to start – and the way the future big guys will start out too.
So if you want to be a future big guy, here are 7 things you need to do for your business, starting today:
Stand apart from the “me too’s” – find out why your community spends money with you and not your competitors. Then, tell that message to everyone!
Chances are your favourite customers hang around with like-minded people. Do you want them to bring their friends next time? Why not give them a reason to stop keeping your business such a secret. This technique alone could double your business right off the bat!
Where else do your customers shop? Not too long ago Millie’s Cookies cross- promoted a discount with Ocado to their customers. Who else has your customers and how can they promote your business to them?
Get out in the community by sponsoring local events, or just touch base with industry publications – remember Microsoft and Google got straight in front of their market just through free publicity.
Do your current customers need a reason to come back? Coffee cards may be cliche, but they’re everywhere because they work! How can you keep your customers coming back for more?
Do you have up-selling opportunities that can increase the average sale per customer? Amazon does this online with their “Customers who bought this also bought… ” section; website hosts up-sell their packages all the time. Even offline: fast food and restaurateurs do this by selling bundles, meal deals, up-sizing, wine recommendations, starters & desserts. Take a look at clothe store mannequins or boutique displays. How can you make sure your customers buy more each time?
Collector and model-maker magazines sell the first issue for mere pennies and make a loss up front because the follow-up subscription to complete the model is where the profit comes from. Do you have back end profit potential? If not, can you build some? You might even consider distributing a partner product for a 50/50 split and help a fellow small business to get off the ground as well.
All the big companies that you think are your competition were small not too long ago.
These big guys learned to grow up without a huge advertising budget, while facing the competition of their time, paying high business rates, and potentially in a worse economy than the one we’re in right now.
But by bootstrapping their marketing and seeing opportunities where it looked bleak, they managed to get to the place that they are now.
You can be the same success story in the next 12 months, so think to yourself about these 7 ways you can leverage your own business with the benefits you have around you everyday, and see what unique and exciting marketing avenues you can explore for your own growth.
Tim Rich is a referral-based Marketing Coach for small business owners both offline and online. He employs the methods in this article and many more to help entrepreneurs implement Marketing Systems that will increase their profits 20-100% without increasing their advertising expense.