Let’s be real: as a solopreneur or small business owner, money doesn’t grow on trees. You need to make every single dollar count.
In an ideal world, each dollar you shelled out on marketing, advertising, or promoting your business would return four dollars in new business.
But in the real world, that’s a pipe dream.
So, how do you get as close to that equation as humanly possible within the confines of our earthly realm? By being crafty and finding ways of getting your business noticed that don’t break the bank. And we’ve got some ideas for you.
But before we dive in, there are two things we should mention...
First, when we say “inexpensive,” we’re talking dollars-and-cents-wise.
These ideas still come with a price-tag payable in elbow grease and time.
Second, we didn’t want to recreate all the generic “cheap marketing ideas” lists on the internet that contain basic granular tactics that make you say, “duh.” Instead, this is a list of high-level ideas you can take and apply to your business in the ways that work best for you.
With that said, here’s some food for thought.
1. Tell Your Why, Not Your What
In order to promote your business in a meaningful way, people need to care about it. And, as Simon Sinek explains, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
Probably my favourite quote from his talk is, "The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe." Boom.
Way too many businesses talk about what they do—the services they provide, the products they offer—even if they have a million and one competitors.
But that doesn’t help them cut through the clutter in 2021.
Focus instead on articulating your story. Your why: the reason your business exists, the purpose it strives to fulfill, and the problem it’s determined to solve.
People will see themselves reflected in that.
Take Project Spaces, for example…
Our core service (our what) is to provide flexible, affordable workspace. Feeling inspired? I didn't think so.
But our why is to be unapologetically founder-friendly, facilitate a professional community that empowers Toronto-based small business owners like ourselves, and offer a better alternative to working from home.
And our members rally around that.
With other options to choose from, it’s your why more so than your what that will dictate who chooses to do business with you.
As a small business, one of your biggest opportunities is to leverage the power of community.
1. Cultivate a community
Don’t talk at your customers or target audience. It’s pushy and annoying. Instead, talk with them. Give them something to engage with.
This can include things like:
- Building a weekly newsletter
- Developing your social media channels, making them value-driven rather than just promotional, and proactively engaging with people
- Polling your customers and engaging them
- Asking them to tag you or share videos and photos and re-sharing them
- Running engaging contests and giveaways
Engagement drives trust. Trust drives sales.
2. Tap into the community
As a small business, making connections in the proverbial community is a huge opportunity for your business.
- Finding collaboration opportunities: Complementary businesses that you could possibly collaborate with in order to get in front of relevant audiences in a non-competitive way, like hosting a helpful webinar.
- Teaming up with other local businesses: Connections with local businesses that can create mutually beneficial opportunities for cross-promotion.
- Contribute to your local community: Teaming up with a local cause to offer your services or launching an initiative designed to give back.
3. Join a community
Becoming part of a professional community, like a coworking space, is a great way to get the word out about your business in an organic and non-obnoxious way. By simply surrounding yourself with other professionals, learning more about what everyone does, and sharing about what you do, you open the door to potential new referrals, connections, and leads.
3. Create a Brand Around Your Business
Great businesses are more than just a product or service. They also have a brand that people connect with on a more emotional level, in turn forging stronger bonds between companies and customers.
Your brand should be built around your why.
Not to be self-centered here, but we’ll use Project Spaces as an example again.
Since our members believe in our why as much as we do, it’s become something that unites us.
Our brand has become a professional family that likes to hustle hard and have fun and believes that working from home sucks.
And people have started to take pride in that, even wearing Project Spaces hoodies and hats for the world to see and sharing their experience at our space with their friends, families, and professional networks.
4. Build Your Personal Profile
People like to buy what they know from people they trust. So, finding ways to put yourself out there as the face of your small business is a great way to promote your company.
Think about things like:
- Contributing expert blog posts to relevant websites
- Looking for speaking engagements
- Starting a blog or podcast of your own
- Contributing to groups and forums and answering questions
- Taking part in discussions on social media
The more helpful you can be for free, the more people will trust you and the more likely they’ll be to do business with you.
Promoting your small business on a tight budget isn’t easy. But if you get creative and are willing to put in the work, there are a ton of ways for you to do it effectively.
If you’re interested in learning more about us and our community, get in touch today and come check out Project Spaces! We’d love for you to join us.
Founder-friendly coworking in downtown Toronto for entrepreneurs and digital nomads. EST 2011. We create original workspaces, fill them with relentless entrepreneurs, and watch the magic happen. Learn more