Large Fortune 500 companies have the luxury of big advertising and marketing budgets. Several thousand dollars are sometimes pocket change in a regular monthly marketing budget. Yet, for small businesses and entrepreneurs in Alamo, every single penny counts and any money you pour into marketing needs to make an immediate impact on your return on investment. The Alamo EDC works hard to make all businesses successful. Here are a few highlights of how we do that.
What is the Revolving Loan Program?
One of our responsibilities at the Alamo EDC is to facilitate the process of starting your own business. The Revolving Loan Program is a low-cost alternative financing option for start-ups and small businesses. The steps are quite simple and can be found here. If you’re thinking about opening up your business and are looking into other funding options, contact the Alamo EDC at 956.787.6622.
Marketing Your Startup or Small Business
You’ve made the decision the open up your own business and are ready dive headfirst into the land of entrepreneurship. You’ve already done your homework, made sure the market can sustain your business, checked the competition and have defined your target market, locations, hours of operation, etc. Now you have to promote your product or service, and small businesses usually have to contend with limited marketing budgets.
Lately, social media has been one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your business, but it’s not the only way. Below are some tips on marketing your product or service on a smaller budget.
Alamo’s events and programs offer great opportunities to vendors and increase brand awareness for your company. For example, the Alamo Watermelon Festival is a place where startups can raise their profile and attract new business. It’s a great way to meet local residents and tell them your business story. Plus, networking opportunities are beneficial for startups as many are keener to share tips and advice in overcoming any hurdles. If there’s one thing the community loves to do, it’s supporting local startup efforts and local events are the best place to do that.
We know this word brings fear to marketing budgets. However, sponsorships don’t necessarily have to cost a hefty sum. Small businesses usually provide free services and goods in exchange for the exposure of their logo and company information. Sponsoring a little league team or a charity walk team are also ways to let the community know about your brand. Just make sure the sponsorship makes sense with your marketing and business goals.
If you’re in the business of selling fitness equipment, healthy foods or curing some kind of disease, then sponsoring charity 5k walks would be ideal. Remember that customers must be able to effortlessly make the connection between the products or service you sell and the goal of the sponsorship. Promoting donuts or sugary snacks at a 5K marathon? It won’t make much sense.
Give a Speech or Offer a Workshop
Customers will be coming to your business for knowledge; it wouldn’t hurt to be a qualified subject expert. You don’t have to be a professional, just as long as the people attending find the information helpful. Use this as an opportunity to build relationships and don’t badger them with advertisements from your business. Just be resourceful, inform or teach them something new.
A presentation or workshop can also serve to network and present the ultimate ripple effect of previous customers bringing in friends or family that can be potential customers. Also remember to bring your marketing materials and business cards with you to hand out at the end. Make the customer want to know more about your product or service.
According to a survey conducted by Small Business Trends, 85% of small business said customers learned about them through word-of-mouth (referrals). This means that the most effective way to reach customers is still the oldest one in the marketing book.
Small businesses implement the personal approach where they get to meet the customer one-on-one and customers get to attach a face and personality to the business. Below are some quick and easy ways to increase a good word-of-mouth experience and quickly address any problems:
- Offering coupons is a great way to keep the customer engaged in products or services. Most customers actually go above and beyond to redeem a coupon. Providing such an incentives is a great way to get customers to come back.
- If possible, give out a free trial or sample. Customers feel more at ease in purchasing a new product when they have already previously tried it. This is especially true if that trial was free. This helps your business with brand awareness, there’s no risk on the customer’s side and it’s less costly than other marketing forms.
- Check reviews online. It takes a while to build a good word-of-mouth reputation and it takes just a fraction of that time to build a bad rep. If there are any negative reviews or comments, online is a great way to find out what they are and take swift action to correcting them. Also, customers usually update their reviews if you resolve the issue. This also shows the online community you’re willing to fix a problem should one arise.
According to Capterra, email marketing produces the highest return on investment for business owners. Marketers also receive an average ROI of $44.25 for every dollar spent on email marketing.
Email marketing is still a powerful way to get your message across and is 40 times better at acquiring new customers compared to social media according to McKinsey & Company. Create opportunities for collecting customers’ emails by:
- Having a signup sheet near your register.
- Creating contests and giveaways where customers must supply their email to participate.
- Making an email signup sheet for customers who want news about your products.
We Want You to Succeed
At the Alamo EDC, we are dedicated to helping you grow your business. Our Revolving Loan Program is designed to help aspiring and existing small businesses take that first important step. If you have any questions about the Revolving Load Program, give us a call at 956.787.6622 so we can help you any way we can.