Guerilla marketing is a small businesses best friend when trying to get noticed. To compete with the big brands, you need to make a big impact with your marketing ideas on a small budget. Eva Missling, European General Manager of online graphic design marketplace 99designs, offers advice on small business marketing on a tight budget.
With each marketing task you tackle, look for new and innovation solutions rather than taking the obvious, tried-and-true route. Is there an alternative way to do it better? Chances are the answer is yes. At 99designs we provide a platform for clients to source graphic design work by connecting them with a community of more than 250,000 designers around the world. Businesses who run design contests on our site, or work directly with designers through our 1-to-1 Projects offering, realize we’re a time and cost-effective alternative to identifying, hiring and working directly with a single designer or an agency.
Make your online communities ‘all about them’ rather than ‘all about you’.
Don’t just send out cool news about new products and company milestones. Educate and engage your community by sharing their success stories, providing educational blog posts and resources, and extending special offers. By delivering valuable content to your customer base, you will grow your following organically.
Consider what emerging social media platforms can offer your company – and also which networks your customers are using. As a design startup, visually focused platforms offer an ideal way for us to show off the fantastic designs created on our site. So, in addition to Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn, we’re active on Instagram and Pinterest. Members of our designer community also love these platforms, since both double up as a portfolio for designers and a place to sample work for clients. Having a presence on the same platforms as your audience makes cross-sharing posts easy, and organically increases your followers.
Consumers are swayed by referrals and testimonials because they feel more comfortable knowing someone else has had a good experience with your company – so shout about the positive feedback you’ve had! Feature testimonials on your home page and relevant landing pages, and give customers an easy way to share their positive feedback with their networks. At 99designs, satisfied customers are given the option to send a Tweet about their contest that includes a discount. Social media has made word of mouth an even more important component of any business’ growth.
Being virtuous when you’re in a position to do so is a great thing. Through 99nonprofits, we give away about ten free design contests monthly to not-for-profit companies. We foot the bill for the design work and the participating organizations receive high-quality design work they might not otherwise have been able to afford. We feature the organizations and their designs in blog posts, and encourage them to invite other non-profits to apply. If your budget won’t allow you to give away freebies, consider partnering with a charity that aligns well with your industry to offer discounts to their members or co-sponsor events together.
It’s more costly to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one, so use all the tools available to you to keep your customers coming back, whether that means giving them referral offers (“refer a new customer and get credit toward your next purchase”) or discounts. Of course, the best way to encourage loyalty is to provide excellent customer service – never underestimate its value!
The lottery ticket in fast, creative marketing is producing something that goes viral. The reality is that not everything is going to become the next YouTube sensation, but when creating sharable content, don’t be afraid to be different, fun and engaging.
Social media is a great tool for conducting free market research. Regularly ask your customers to weigh in on a new product or an obvious tweak you’ve made in your business model. On a day-to-day basis, keep an eye out for Twitter, Facebook and other social network feedback, and whether positive or negative, respond to them all. If your audience feels you’re listening – and truly care about each customer – they’re likely to be more vocal in recommending you to friends, and remain loyal themselves.
Whilst implementing any of these tips individually should have an impact, keep in mind that they complement one another. Think of them as ingredients in a recipe for success rather than simply a list, and use them together for the best results!