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Six ways to promote your business cost-effectively

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Making your company stand out from the competition is no easy task. The trick is to create a good impression and make sure people think of you first when they need what you offer.

Every owner of a smaller business needs to think about how they can raise awareness of their brand, and ensure it’s front of mind when people think about making purchases or asking for more information. The challenge for most small firms is how to do this without spending a fortune. 



The following tips should allow you to raise your profile without having to stretch the finances too far: 



Think local


For many firms, their local area will be the main source of business opportunities. Advertising at a local level can be extremely cost-effective, so think about targeting local newspapers, websites or magazines.

Consider surrounding areas too; most people are happy to travel a short distance or use a service from the next town if they know they’re getting a good product. Dropping leaflets or cards through doors is a good means of reaching customers if it’s householders you’re after. 

Think about building your profile locally too; sponsoring a local kids’ football team or school event is a good way for customer-facing businesses to get their brand known in the local area and generate some goodwill from potential customers.



Make an impression


Think about the brands you remember. Businesses such as Big Yellow Self Storage, Churchill and ComparetheMarket.com probably spring to mind. They all excel in their respective fields, but you remember them because of their catchy design or captivating slogans or characters used in their adverts.

What works for you will depend on the sector you’re in, but it’s worth ensuring that anything that is visible to consumers – vans, leaflets, websites, logos, even letterheads – are memorable and stand out from the competition. 

This is one area where it may be worth spending a bit of money to bring in a professional who can help you create the look and feel that is appropriate to your business and the sector you work in.



Get out and about


Often the best advertisement for your business is you, so focus on developing your presence in the local business community, particularly if your business is in the B2B rather than consumer space. Join online discussion and networking groups, and find yourself a local business networking group which will allow you to meet other people. Many of these people will want to talk about their own business too, but it’s amazing how much work comes through personal contacts or word of mouth. 



Build an online presence


This is one of the easiest ways to market yourself, and it needn’t cost a penny. Write a regular blog about topical business issues affecting your sector and customers, and host it on your website, and then share this regularly on social media, using sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Not only will you soon build up followers online, you’ll also increase the traffic you get to your website. If they like what they see there, this should eventually filter through into enquiries and customers. 



Use customer testimonials


These are dynamite in helping your business stand out from the competition. If you work in a sector where work can be rated on online sites – such as Rated People or Trust A Trader – ask customers who you feel would give a good review to rate you. You can also ask them to post a recommendation on Facebook or to write a testimonial for your own use, which you can then run on your website, advertising or even your company vehicle.



Display your credentials


Many sectors will have accrediting bodies which assess work and award certificates, or professional qualifications to demonstrate your own personal competence. These can be an easy way for customers to judge people or businesses before getting in touch, so make sure you have the necessary approvals and then display these clearly on your vehicle, website and other material. 

There are other ways you can stand out from the crowd too; consider entering local or even national awards and make sure people know if you’ve been shortlisted, commended or won any accolades. Displaying your FSB badge can also help, by conveying to customers that you are a small business and one which is actively part of a much larger membership organisation.