How stiff is the competition in your industry? How do you intend to stay ahead of competition in business? What’s the average number of new customers that come to transact business with you daily? Do you know how to attract or find new customers for your small business? Do you need cheap marketing ideas for your small business?
Is your business experiencing difficulties due to a shortage of customers? If I offer you effective small business marketing strategies and ideas that will help you get new customers or clients for FREE; and also help you outperform competition, will you be willing to try them out? If your answer to the last question is yes, then read on.
Finding good customers is one of the challenges of starting a business and one peculiar thing about this challenge is that it never ends. From the day you open up for business; your business will constantly be in need of customers. But unfortunately, most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t know how to promote their businesses and those who are well grounded on the importance of marketing a business are short of marketing ideas.
“You are in a war. You must plan to take the other guy down first and do it. Winning is not the best thing; it’s the only thing. If it were not, no one would keep score. To win the war, you must take charge. You must set the organization’s objectives, establish a chain of control, delegate, appraise performance, adjust and act.” – The Mafia Manager
In a previous article I wrote, I explained that competition is one of the challenges faced by entrepreneurs when building a business from scratch. Business is a war; so also is marketing. A case of dog eat dog; and a game where winner takes all. Just like stated in the quotes above; winning is not the best thing, it’s the only thing. You must plan to take your competitors out before they do the same.
“In business, the competition will bite you if you keep running. If you stand still, they will swallow you.” – Victor Kiam
In this article, I am going to share with you eight effective small business marketing strategies and tactics that will help your business gain undue advantage and ultimately overcome competition. I am not sharing this guerrilla marketing tactics with you just to thrill you; I believe in action and corresponding results. These are not the regular marketing tactics you come across everyday; these guerrilla marketing tactics have been tested and proven.
“If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.” – Jack Welch
I am an entrepreneur and I face stiff competition everyday; from the first day I launched, it’s been war. But I survived and my businesses are thriving and growing at an exponential rate. How did I survive competition? I didn’t survive by rolling dice and praying for luck; I survived competition by being tough and strategic in my marketing approach. It’s this same small business marketing strategies I used that I want to share with you today.
“Luck is not a factor. Hope is not a strategy and failure is not an option.” – Anonymous
“We have always had a pretty competitive ferocious battle with British Airways. It lasted about 14 years and we are very pleased to have survived it.” – Richard Branson
Now what gives me the confidence that these marketing tactics will work on your business? Sincerely, I can’t really guarantee these marketing tactics will work on your business but it was these same business marketing strategies that Richard Branson used to position Virgin Atlantic against British Airways. It was these same marketing tactics that Jeff Bezos implemented to position Amazon.com to compete favorably with Barnes and Noble. These same marketing tactics helped Facebook stay in the game against Google.
So if this guerilla marketing tactics worked for these successful entrepreneurs when their businesses were in the startup phase, I believe it will work for you. If you are ready to outperform your competitor, then below are eight underground marketing tactics you can implement to stay ahead of competition.
“The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all but goes on making his own business better all the time.” – Henry Ford
8 Effective Small Business Marketing Strategies for Overcoming Competition
Your mission to survive or stay ahead of competition begins with strategic planning. You must identify your competitor; spot out the competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, and plan your strategy based on the information gathered. Concentrate all your attacking effort on your competitor’s weaknesses while avoiding and defending against the strengths.
“The best thing to invest in your business is your time. To schedule, plan and use time effectively, know your turf and know your objectives. Assess the obstacles and opportunities, then devise your strategies.” – The Mafia Manager
When developing a competitive strategy, don’t do it alone, do it together with your business team. Your competitive strategy must not only include plans to defeat competition; it must also include plans that will strengthen the business from the inside as well as on the outside.
b. Focus on a niche
“Don’t try to be all things to all people. Concentrate on selling something unique that you know there is a need for, offer competitive pricing and good customer service.” – Lilian Vernon
Most businesses try to be everything to everyone; don’t join them. Find a niche market and serve that niche to the best of your effort. In every industry, there’s an under served, abandoned niche that the big corporations considers too small to be served. It’s up to you to find such niche and focus your entire marketing effort on it. Don’t spread your effort, concentrate and don’t try to be everything to everyone; be something to someone.
“And here is the prime condition of success, the great secret. Concentrate your energy, thoughts and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged in. Having begun in one line, resolve to fight it out on that line; to lead in it. Adopt every improvement, have the best machinery and know the most about it.” – Andrew Carnegie
Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic was able to breakthrough because it focused on business men and students while British Airways strives to serve everyone. Facebook was able to breakthrough because it focused on youths. So if you are going to stay ahead of competition; then get focus.
c. Strive to be unique
What sets your business apart from the competition? What does your business name or product stand for in the heart of your customers? What’s your unique selling proposition? If you haven’t given these questions a thought, then I think you are making a grave mistake because creating a unique selling proposition begins with you answering these questions. To outsmart your competitors, you need to be unique. You need to find your strength, work on it and broadcast it to the world.
As an illustration, Aliko Dangote set his company apart with speedy delivery and uniform price. Wal-Mart became a brand with its unique pricing strategy; Apple became a brand with innovation and Virgin Atlantic grew because it offered first class service to an ignored niche; “business people and students.” So if your business is going to stay relevant in the marketplace; then you need to be unique.
The fourth small business marketing strategies to outsmarting your competition is to build a brand for your business. You may say you don’t have the huge marketing budget of the big corporations but you can build a brand in your own little way.
“If you are not a brand, you are a commodity.” – Robert Kiyosaki
By emphasizing on quality, striving to fulfill your brand promise and working on your overall brand image; you can build a strong brand image for your business. Most of the popular brands in the world today were smaller brands of yesterday. If you consistently invest in building a brand for your business; you’ll stay ahead of competition.
“To succeed in business, you must build a brand and never destroy it. One competitive advantage I had when I ventured into manufacturing was my brand “Dangote,” which I diligently built in the course of my trading commodities.” – Aliko Dangote
e. Focus on the Customer
“A business absolutely devoted to service will have one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.” – Henry Ford
In guerrilla marketing key point number two, I emphasized the need to focus on a niche. Now what’s that niche made up of? A niche is a group of people with a common interest. Most businesses are so obsessed with keeping an eye on the competition that they ignore the main asset of their business which is the customer.
“Business is not just doing deals; business is having great products, doing great engineering and providing tremendous service to customers. Finally, business is a cobweb of human relationship.” – Henry Ross Perot
Now does that mean you should take your eye off competition? My answer is no but do it with moderation. You focus should rather be how to serve the customers more efficiently; your utmost focus should be to give the customer maximum satisfaction.
“What is good for our customers is also in the long run good for us.” – Ingvar Kamprad
f. Connect with customers emotionally
All businesses try to communicate with the customers but not all connect with the customers. Your guerrilla marketing tactic here should be to discover your customer’s soft spot and touch them right on that spot. One question on the mind of all your potential customers is “Wii-FM,” meaning “what is in for me.”
“Stop talking about your products and services. Customers don’t care about products and services, they care about themselves.” – David Meerman Scott
The answer to the “Wii-FM” question is the key to successfully connecting with your customers emotionally. Connecting with your customers entails knowing your customer’s need and touching them at the point of that need. If you can successfully do this; you have nothing to fear about competition.
“Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face .You will be amazed at how many companies don’t listen to their customers.” – Henry Ross Perot
g. Strive to achieve quality
The seventh guerrilla marketing to outsmarting competition is to give your customers the best of service. You must insist on quality and make quality a standard in your business. Insistence on quality at an affordable rate can set you apart from competition.
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs
Never trade quantity and cheapness over quality because it’s going to back fire. Debbi Fields, Henry Ford and Michael Dell are successful entrepreneurs that carved a niche for themselves because of their insistence on quality. Debbi Fields extraordinary insistence on quality led to the initiation of their company’s motto “Good enough never is.”
“Good enough never is. Set your standards so high that even the flaws are considered excellent.” – Debbi Fields
h. Concentrate on innovation
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs
How did Apple become one of the most respected companies in the world? They made it through innovation. Concentrating on innovation was Apple’s overall strategy to stay competitive in the market place. Apple’s strategy was to stay competitive by providing the customers with constant innovative products that solves basic problems and all Apple’s guerrilla marketing tactics revolved around that strategy. So if constant innovation helped Apple stay in the game; why shouldn’t it do the same for your business?
“Pretty much, Apple and Dell are the only ones in this industry making money. They make it by being Wal-Mart, we make it by innovation.” – Steve Jobs
Being innovative doesn’t mean spending millions of dollars in research and inventions; being innovative simply means being willing to try out new products and techniques to improve the value of your offered services. Being innovative is simply searching outside the box for faster solutions to people’s problems so you can choose to compete with innovation or not, but know that a company driven by innovation will always stay ahead of the pack.
99+ FREE Marketing Ideas to Get New Customers & Clients for your Business
“The purpose of a business is to create a customer.” – Peter F. Drucker
It’s the utmost desire of every business man to see customers trooping into his place of business because one of the most valued assets of a company is its customer base. Most entrepreneurs have successfully built a functional business system around their product or idea but they don’t seem to be making headway with respect to finding customers for their business. And without adequate customers, there will be no sales and without sales; there will be no profits. Without profits, your business is as good as dead.
Since you have understood the importance of a customer to a business, let’s now brainstorm on how to find new customers and increase your customer’s base. In this article, I am going to reveal to you 99+ smart ways to find or attract 300 new customers in 30 days or less with little budget.
Please note that you are not expected to implement all the techniques; just pick a few and stick with it. Your goal here is to find 10 new customers each day for the next 30 days. At the end of 30 days, your business should have nothing less than 300 new customers in its asset base. Secondly, creativity should be applied when implementing any of these marketing tactics. Thirdly, it’s advisable you make sure that your entire business is prepared and able to handle the inflow of new customers.
What’s the essence of attracting new customers to your business, only for the customers to arrive and be disappointed by your lack of co-ordination and poor services? Never let that happen because customers talk a lot and bad news spread like wild fire. Now if you are good to go, then below are 30 smart ways to attract or find 300 new customers in 30 days or less with little budget.
“Sales is about identifying a thirsty prospect and selling them a glass of water. Branding is about selling your 2nd glass and the 3rd glass and the 4th until when they’re thirsty they want to buy your water. Branding is finding out what you stand for and then communicating and delivering what you stand for.” – Ben Mack
Your business card should be professional in its design and should maintain your company’s brand image and color. Important details about your business should also be included in the business cards and you must give it away at any given opportunity. Never leave your home or office without your business cards.
2. Brand your company’s car
If your company has a car, then brand it. If your company is still a small business, then consider branding your personal car. After all, it’s still your business. Brand your car with your company’s corporate color and leave a catchy message on it. For instance, if you run a pet food shop; then consider modeling a bone on the roof of the car.
3. Offer a money back guarantee to new and existing customers. A money back guarantee will attract new customers; the existing customers will tell their family and friends about it and this will lead to repeated sales.
4. Offer a discount to new and existing customers and make sure you give your discount offer maximum exposure.
5. Give away free samples to new customers. The free sample marketing strategy actually works; it was on this same strategy that Debbi Fields grew her cookie company.
6. Motivate your employees to promote your business and help you find new customers. Make them understand that your business success is dependent on their internal and external contributions to your business; and make sure you provide an incentive for them.
7. Look for a competition going on in your local area and offer them prizes. Please note that your donated prize should be the product your company sells and also make sure that the competition will receive publicity.
9. Advertise your products and services on mobile billboards that are attached to moving vehicles.
10. Create an informational booklet and give it away for free. Your informational booklet should be related to your business products or services. For instance; if you are running an electronics repair shop, you can create a booklet teaching people how to take care of their electronic gadgets.
If you run a pet food shop; create an informational booklet teaching pet owners how to care for their pets. Most importantly, you must give this booklet away for free but be sure to promote your business inside the booklet; preferably on the front page, back page and center page.
11. Advertise your business in print media.
12. Take your business to trade shows and business expos. These events attract tons of customers and exposure.
13. Form strategic alliances with other small businesses in your area and cross promote each other. For instance, if you sell men wears; you can strike strategic alliances with other businesses that deal on men shoes, men cosmetics and fragrances. You can even ally with barber’s shop in your vicinity; all you need is creativity and a win-win plan.
14. Advertise your business in electronic media.
15. Make an excellent branded sticker and give it to your existing customers. Make sure its content is something that your customers will be proud to fly. For instance, you can create a branded sticker inscribed with the words “I am a highly valued reader of MyTopBusinessideas.com blog.”
16. Initiate a loyalty program for your existing customers. This will encourage your customers to talk proudly or brag about your business.
17. Promote your business with direct marketing campaigns.
18. Approach your local radio station and offer to provide their audience with valuable information.
19. Design a hard hitting branded brochure and give it away to prospects.
20. Make your packaging branded and reusable. A biscuit company I know made their big sized biscuit package a dice board game. Once the customers are through with eating the biscuits, the package can be used as a dice game board. You can also make your package a map or educational material but make sure it’s branded and valuable.
21. Get a business website or blog and put your business on the web.
22. Become a syndicated columnist for a popular newspaper and offer the readers valuable information relating to your industry.
23. Start your own branded newsletter. You can choose to publish daily, weekly or monthly.
24. Ask your existing customers for referrals and don’t be shy about it. If you’ve serve them well; then be bold to ask them to reciprocate or encourage you by referring their family and friends to your business.
25. Offer to be a guest on a television show that relates to your industry.
26. Attend business events, conferences, annual general meetings, stakeholders meeting, lunches and social gatherings. Be sure to network very well during such events and never forget to give out your business cards.
27. Send your customers a thank you “branded public display gift item.” I am talking about gift items such as calendars, memos, customer’s loyalty badge, wall papers, awards and souvenirs.
28. Place branded notice boards in high traffic locations such as shopping centers, stadium, cinemas and conference centers.
29. Help your customers advertise or promote your business voluntarily by providing them with valuable branded promotional materials such as face caps, wrist bands and T-shirts.
30. Organize a “thank you” party for your loyal customers and ask them to invite friends who are non customers. Make sure you give the non customers a warming experience and be sure to hand them branded promotional valuables such as T-shirts and face caps.
31. Start a marketing ideas box
34. Package your product well and make it stand out
36. Offer exceptional services
38. Keep a notice board in the hallway of your office
39. Teach your staff how to sell and take care of customers
Local Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses
40. Remember your customer’s important dates
41. Send out reminder notice to your customers
43. Offer prizes in competitions within and beyond your community
44. Sponsor events within your business environment
46. Ask your satisfied customers for referrals
47. Try to win or attract an industry award
48. Start a loyalty program
51. Run free seminars
52. Keep in touch with your customers
Internet Marketing Ideas for Small Business
53. Put your business on the internet by creating a website
54. Start a blog to keep in touch with your customers
55. Create a Facebook Fan Page for your business
56. Join forums related to your industry and participate
57. Be watchful of your web copy
58. Advertise your business on Facebook
59. Use colours and fonts that attract the eyes and enhance readability
60. Advertise your business with PPC (Google Adword or Facebook Ads)
Wider Marketing Campaign Ideas for your Small Business
61. Advertise your product and services on Television
62. Run a promotional campaign on your local radio station
63. Utilize outdoor billboard advertising
64. Run mobile billboard advertising campaigns
65. Enter your business in industry competitions
67. Advertise in newspapers and magazines
As a final note, the above are 99+ effective FREE marketing strategies, tactics and ideas that you can apply to stay ahead of competition in your industry; and attract new customers without having to spend much. Even if you are running on a limited budget or you have no marketing budget at all, you can still take action with the guide provided above.
However, I would like to emphasize that implementing 100% of the marketing tactics listed above in the short run is not feasible. Rather, you will achieve more if you stick with one or combine at most seven of the 99+ guerrilla marketing tactics and implement them with a little touch of creativity; and 300 new customers will be yours in less than 30 days.