Tag Archives: marketing strategies

11 Ways to Market Your Business with a Small Budget

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Small businesses with great products often fail due to its inability to get themselves in front of the mass market.

Despite of the successes of multiple social media platforms, traditional marketing mediums remain to be outside the budget limits of most small businesses.

In today’s article, I’ll share with you top ten ways to market your business with a small budget.

1. Advertisements

There are a number of websites now that offer free advertisements if you wish to sell product/service such as Mudah.my, Carousell and more.

You can even post advertisement on Facebook Groups which is specifically built for the purpose.

If you’re willing to spend a little bit of money, you can always go for Facebook Ads as it also posts your ad on Instagram – which means you are able to extend your market reach further.

Although, keep in mind that it is important to target your market specifically – or you’ll risk having only traffic to your business but without much sale.

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2. Press Releases

Press releases can be expensive depending on which medium you approach. It goes without saying, the larger the news, the more expensive it becomes.

However, if you’re able to attract enough attention from public, most news medium are more likely to come over and have a look at what the big deal is.

Release a statement that you’re organizing a charity event or that you’re helping homeless people to build their homes. Organize events, followed by invitations to news media to cover the stories. It’s a cheap form of publicity.

3. Sponsorship

Sponsorship is not as easy you’d think. Quite a number of entrepreneurs often mistaken that it’s always best to sponsor any events that attract the most customers. While these kind of events can be very expensive, it is also attracting people who are not in your targeted market.

If you’ve followed me long enough, you’ll know it’s always best to avoid or reduce reliance on the ‘numbers’ game – where the more is better. This is expensive and is kind of a gamble.

Personally, I feel it is best to narrow down the number of consumers by categorizing them into who would need and benefit the most from your product/service. Whilst the market has been minimized to smaller number of consumers, the chances of getting sales return is promising.

For example, if you are selling affordable designer handbags – sponsor a group of fashion influencers who attract women looking for international branded designs but with cheaper price tag. If you sell athletic watches – a group of fitness enthusiasts/celebrity fitness trainers. You get the idea.

Play with numbers where you can afford to lose in case things go south.

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4. Media Stunts/Guerrilla Marketing

Media stunts are effective in creating buzz.

Remember when Richard Branson drove a tank through the city?

Or do you remember when Elon Musk launch his Tesla to space?

Look at Domino’s on how they leverage the potholes problems in US towns by adding their own brands on each of the repairs they conducted.

While small businesses can’t compete at the level of those billionaires, there’s nothing you can’t do with a little bit of ingenuity and creativity.

For a small business, start looking around your neighboring area for things that you feel need to be addressed.

Provide a solution and stamp your brands all over it to create awareness of your company.

Don’t forget to invite news reporters too.

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5. Make more use of your business cards

Your business cards are a form of investment – so use it wisely.

It’s not a matter of simply distributing those cards among your family and friends, it’s about creating the need for them to ask for your business cards.

For example, back when I ran Mirsky Mode, I often meet up with my lady friends to catch up on things where I always bring up the ‘handbag’ conversation. We’ll talk about the design, brand and the expensive price tag of the bag. Once we get to the price, talk your way into how your company offers designer handbags for an affordable price. They would immediately ask for a card or even check out your online store on the spot!

This can also be applied to other industries too.

The important thing to do is to make sure the person you intend on distributing the business card is a part of your targeted market – or you’ll risk of wasting away that card.

Then, create a need for them to find out more about your business

6. Join a local networking group

A business that does not connect often fails.

Your company needs to be connected with people to gain their support.

By becoming emotionally connected with people, you are adding value to the relationship. Build on it and when the time is right, people will start visiting you to see what your business has to offer.

I’ve often made new friends from online meetup sites such as Meetup and AirBnB activities.

If you visit the local public library or town hall, there will be notice boards on local events or gathering too.

Pay a visit to one of them and start building relationship with people.

7. Use self-employed sales agents

This is a cheap alternative selling method.

Self-employed sales agents do not take large commissions from you since they do not have to pay any sales agency fees.

They are also highly motivated and very good at working independently.

This is great for you since you do not need to spend too much time on training/teaching them the ropes as they can get the things done on their own.

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8. Leaflet drops

The key of a successful leaflet drop is to pick the right market to distribute to.

Leaflet drops is a numbers’ game. Traditionally, the more you distribute, the higher chances of getting sales. This costs money.

Instead, narrow down your market. Target those who you feel the most likely to be interested in your product/service.

Pay more attention to the design of the leaflet. Be more emotionally connected with the consumers on the issues of what your business offers to resolve. Selling part comes later.

I’m not a huge fan of traditional leaflet drops but since I know a few businesses that successfully gain results from it, I’d share with you nonetheless – but with caution as it could costs much money and time which small businesses can’t afford.

9. Give talks to other businesses

I’ve given talks on investment once and learned few things from it.

First, you gain new connection who are in similar fields or interest. This is a no-brainer.

Just be sure to leave your contact or company’s contact details so they can find out more about your business.

Secondly, during Q&A session, I’ve managed to understand what troubles or issues people are experiencing in the field respectively.

The sessions gave me direct insight and I’ve learned numerous issues which my company can help resolve. A win-win.

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10. Write for your favorite e-magazines/blogs or create your own newsletter

Contributing articles is a must for bloggers and even writers nowadays.

Reasons are that you will extend your market reach to the blogs you’re contributing to. Don’t forget to leave links back to your blog (with permission, of course). If readers enjoy your writing, they will know where to look to find you.

Being a writer, I’m very fond of this idea. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always enjoyed writing fiction and as I grew older – business topics. So, why not use this to advantage in growing business?

11. Collaborate With Social Media Influencers

In this digital age where social media thrives able to flood your business with traffic/consumers, you’d best take full advantage of it. Plus, it’s cost varies from low-to-zero.

Influencers’ endorsements are definitely cheap compared to celebrities’. They can help influence their followers with a click of several buttons and your business will be on the ‘maps!’

While some agree to promote your business on reasonable fees, there are also those who simply accept your product/service as payment. It all comes down to negotiation and their popularity rating. Rest assured, they will cost you a lot less than celebrities.

Read more about what I wrote on selecting the right social media influencer for your small business.

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5 Great Ways to Build Customer Loyalty Online.

In 2003, Harvard Business Review wrote how loyal customers are much more profitable than other customers. The article reported loyal customers are prone to buying from you more often, they cost less to serve and most important of all, they provide the highest quality of feedback.

Whilst all these are good, small businesses still struggle to obtain the creme’ de’ la creme of their customers. Here, we take a look at five effective ways to build your customers’ loyalty:

Continue reading 5 Great Ways to Build Customer Loyalty Online.

3 Easy Ways to Showcase Your Product’s Quality Online

Showcasing your product online is a crucial element of great online content. Since consumers find it difficult to visualize the product online, it becomes your priority to invest more resources on ensuring the message does not get lost.

Whilst hiring online content manager is a recommended solution, most startups simply could not afford to do so due to their ridiculous rate, giving established businesses the upper hand.

All that said, I sat down and reflected on it. Here are 3 cost-effective methods to showcase your brand’s service online:

Continue reading 3 Easy Ways to Showcase Your Product’s Quality Online

How To Improve Customer Experience and Customer Loyalty

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Frankly speaking, good customer experience leads to loyal customers. And loyal customers often leads to customer retention and great PR (two benefits every business should pursue) which is great since these primary drive for cost-effective and more sales.

Now, I’m not going to beat around the bush of its importance too much or how exactly it funnels to more sales at cheap expense. I might write more about it in the future. For now, let’s focus on how to improve your customers’ experience.

Let’s focus on Tesco, a giant UK company. I wrote a paper on Tesco back when I did my MBA and recommended 4 strategies on how to improve the company’s customers’ experience.

1.IMPROVE ONLINE PRESENCE

Tesco PLC is recommended to integrate its business entirely with the ‘online’ world (Schneider and Bertelsen, 2010). As discussed in the Johnston and Kong (2011) paper, customers enjoy being part of not only as consumers, but also to be part of the company’s future development leading to the co-creation value (Prahalad and Ramaswamy, 2004)

The company needs to be more involved online. Hiring an IT team to set up social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will not suffice.

Tesco needs to be more involved to the extent of hiring a team of talented ‘social media’ managers who are not only socially active online, but also have strong value of online influence. Having strong presence in the social media is vital as it allows Tesco PLC to conduct business in more channels.

It could also provide as a platform for customers to conduct ‘troubleshooting’ benefitting the operation teams involved in continuous improvement. Customers will also enjoy engaging with Tesco front-liners as they feel they are a part of the brand.

By constantly engaging with customers, these create environment which contribute to service quality and customer satisfaction leading to loyal customers (Kandampully and Hu, 2007; Masceranhas et. al., 2006).

2. EMPOWER EMPLOYEES

Apart from that, Tesco could also employ the empowerment of employees approach which helps on improving the image of the company, hence brand value.

By providing conducive and secure work environment, employees will be more willing to work beyond the contract. Employees will also exchange view with customers on the level of happiness and motivation being employed in Tesco.

The best example of a company which works hard to keep employees happy is Starbucks. Every employee receives proper training, tools, job design and security which in return, enable them to be highly motivated. They are even trained to recognize returning customers – these lead to improving corporate image, an important factor to customer loyalty (Kandampully and Hu, 2007).

3. CREATIVE CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (CSR)

Another strategy to ensure customer loyalty is by having Tesco PLC be more involved in the charity work internationally and locally.

The suggested strategy for Tesco is similar to Tom’s Shoes (Tom’s, 2013), to the extent where the company would get customers to get ‘onboard’ in participating charity events organised by Tesco. In the context of Tesco PLC, the level of participation among the employees and customers will further influence emotional consumer experience, improving the corporate image which influences customer loyalty (Kandampully and Hu, 2007; Masceranhas et. al., 2006).

4. INTRODUCE NEW SALES CHANNEL(S)

As part of delivering great customer experience, it is suggested that Tesco PLC could benefit further by providing the ‘drive-through’ concept.

It works similar as companies in food and beverage industry, only the layout is different and transactions are performed without having the need for customers to get out of their car.

The new platform for Tesco PLC will provide new channel for business which is part of improving service quality – crucial factor to delivering customer experience and customer loyalty (Kandampully and Hu, 2007; Liljander and Strandvik, 1997).

REFERENCES

  1. Seth, N., Deshmukh, S.G., Vrat, P. (2005) “Service quality models: a review“, International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 22 Iss: 9, pp.913 – 949. Retrieved from DOI : 10.1108/02656710510625211
  2. Tom’s (2013). Available at : http://www.toms.com/
  3. Johnston, R., Kong, X. (2011) “The customer experience: a road-map for improvement“, Managing Service Quality, Vol. 21 Iss: 1, pp.5 – 24. Retrieved from DOI : 10.1108/09604521111100225
  4. Mascarenhas, O. A., Kesavan, R., Bernacchi, M. (2006) “Lasting customer loyalty: a total customer experience approach“, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 23 Iss: 7, pp.397 – 405. Retrieved from DOI : 10.1108/07363760610712939
  5. Teixeira, J., Patrício, L., Nunes, N. J., Nóbrega, L., Fisk, R. P., Constantine, L. (2012) “Customer experience modeling: from customer experience to service design“, Journal of Service Management, Vol. 23 Iss: 3, pp.362 – 376. Retrieved from DOI : 10.1108/09564231211248453
  6. Meyer, C., Schwager, A. (2007), “Understanding customer experience“, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 2007 No.February, pp.117-26. Retrieved from URL : http://hbr.org/2007/02/understanding-customer-experience/ar/1
  7. Prahalad, C. K., Ramaswamy, V. (2004). JOURNAL OF INTERACTIVE MARKETING VOLUME 18 / NUMBER 3 / SUMMER 2004. Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com). DOI: 10.1002/dir.20015, http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/35225/20015_ftp.pdf
  8. Bharwani, S., Jauhari, V. (2013) “An exploratory study of competencies required to co-create memorable customer experiences in the hospitality industry“, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 25 Iss: 6, pp.823 – 843. Retrieved from DOI : 10.1108/IJCHM-05-2012-0065
  9. Liljander, V., Strandvik, T. (1997) “Emotions in service satisfaction“, International Journal of Service Industry Management, Vol. 8 Iss: 2, pp.148 – 169. Retrieved from DOI : 10.1108/09564239710166272
  10. Kandampully, J., Suhartanto, D. (2000) “Customer loyalty in the hotel industry: the role of customer satisfaction and image“, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 12 Iss: 6, pp.346 – 351. Retrieved from DOI : 10.1108/09596110010342559
  11. Espejel, J., Fandos, C., Flavián, C. (2008) “Consumer satisfaction: A key factor of consumer loyalty and buying intention of a PDO food product”, British Food Journal, Vol. 110 Iss: 9, pp.865 – 881. Retrieved from DOI : 10.1108/00070700810900585
  12. Johnson, C., Mathews, B. P. (1997) “The influence of experience on service expectations“, International Journal of Service Industry Management, Vol. 8 Iss: 4, pp.290 – 305. Retrieved from DOI : 10.1108/09564239710174381   
  13. Long-Tolbert, S. J., Gammoh, B. S. (2012) “In good and bad times: the interpersonal nature of brand love in service relationships“, Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 26 Iss: 6, pp.391 – 402. Retrieved from DOI :  10.1108/08876041211257882  
  14. Kandampully, J., Hu, H. H. (2007) “Do hoteliers need to manage image to retain loyal customers?“, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 19 Iss: 6, pp.435 – 443. Retrieved from DOI : 10.1108/09596110710775101
  15. Dick, A., Basu, K. (1994), “Customer loyalty: toward an integrated conceptual framework“, Journal of Marketing Science, Vol. 22 No.2, pp.99-113. Retrieved from URL : http://www.scribd.com/doc/135705548/Customer-Loyalty-Toward-an-Integrated-Conceptual-Framework
  16. Rowley, J. (2005) “The four Cs of customer loyalty“, Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 23 Iss: 6, pp.574 – 581. Retrieved from DOI : 10.1108/02634500510624138
  17. Duffy, D. L. (2003) “Internal and external factors which affect customer loyalty”, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 20 Iss: 5, pp.480 – 485. Retrieved from DOI : 10.1108/07363760310489715
  18. Schneider, M., Bertelsen, A. M., (2010). “Beyond Foursquare : The Next Generation of Customer Loyalty”. Harvard Business Review [blog] 4 October. Available at : http://blogs.hbr.org/2010/10/beyond-foursquare-the-next-gen/ [Accessed 3 Dec 2013]
  19. Morningstar (2013). Available at URL : http://financials.morningstar.com/ratios/r.html?t=TSCDF

4 Ways to Make Your Online Business Stand Out than the Rest

A survey reported that the average growth of e-commerce is around 25% per year, in bad times. Harris Interactive, the one conducted the survey, also revealed that 81% small businesses which have online presence reached more customers, increasing sales and profitability.

It is obvious how essential every small business should invest seriously on online presence. However, the ease of internet access has made the internet more saturated with businesses competing each other.

The question remains “How does your business stands out?” Here is a list of ways to overcome the problem.

Continue reading 4 Ways to Make Your Online Business Stand Out than the Rest