Photo Credit: www.thecollegehelper.com

We had some great feedback from many on my last article featuring lower-cost marketing tactics. In response to your interest, I’m outlining five more marketing tactics for entrepreneurs that won’t break your budget!

The themed promotion

“Ladies’ Night Every Thursday”. “Sandwich of the Day Menu”.  “Dinner and a Movie Deal”. Some bars and restaurants use tactics like this to increase sales on certain days of the week, or during slower seasons. These concepts are as old as time, but they work beautifully. The reason they’re effective is simple: they work the same way your customers’ minds work. Repeating events based on a theme or a pattern creates associations in your customers’ minds—every time they encounter your promotion, it gives them a second chance to act. So, the message about your business is frequently top of mind for the customer.

Moreover, a theme can create an emotional connection to your business. The association is natural—the client or customer is thinking of you. Then, be creative and give the customer a good reason to think about you: during months that start with “M”, the second drink is half price. All winter you get a free soup to warm your heart. Spring is the time to hit the gym. Entrepreneur week. Think about how to connect with your customer and create a theme or timely promotion. This will also be a great exercise in understanding your market.

The famous cold call

Is the cold call obsolete? Some believe so, but when it comes to getting a quick response, cold calls still have value. Recently, the rise of social networks has cast a shadow on the practice, which involves calling people on the phone that you have never met or done business with before. Add to that a history of questionable cold calling practices and an increasing fear of fraud.

In contrast to trends, the cold call remains an excellent way to approach clients and partners at a low cost. The main advantage of this practice is that it allows the entrepreneur to start a conversation with a potential client. If you choose to use this approach, here are two pieces of advice. First, know how to properly assess your time. Since there will not be any direct income, you’ll be investing your own time to make the calls. This generates a cost to your enterprise, since you can’t devote that time to something else. Second, the time you spend calling potential clients makes up only half of the overall time associated with cold calling. The other half of the time will be spent researching which people to target and contact. This is very important. If you don’t research, your calls will not yield a result and you will quickly become discouraged. We don’t want that!

The social media plan

The creation of a Facebook page is often the very first thing an entrepreneur does. The first one hundred “likes” are quickly attained and the entrepreneur is happy. Then, the ensuing stagnation discourages the entrepreneur. It’s at this moment that some choose to turn to paid publications to augment their visibility but that’s not always the best solution.

It’s important to understand that having a Facebook page or Twitter account are business development activities, but they require a lot of time and patience. Many entrepreneurs have the impression that the simple fact of putting their business on social media will result in it going viral. Unfortunately, that is not true. Spreading your message organically doesn’t happen overnight. Take the time to develop a calendar of your posts. Be rigorous. After some time, you will have a client base and an engaged community with whom you can start a conversation. This has a major benefit and is very cheap. But don’t forget, you must have patience!

The well-planned workshop

You must become an expert in an area. Your business is a trade, so you have something to teach people. What you need to do is offer free workshops or conferences where people can get to know your business. So, you must position yourself as an expert and your business will gain legitimacy. You will have the chance to show people what you know and, even more, you will develop a relationship with them. This aspect is very important. Even before talking about what your business offers, the most important thing is the relationship you have with your clients and partners.

If you choose to hold a workshop or conference, make sure you have a good audience, both in terms of number and quality. Quality means finding people whose interests are consistent with the services you offer. In other words, make sure to speak to people who could eventually become your clients or refer clients. Given that it takes a lot of effort to put on a workshop or conference, it is important to be targeted in your efforts.

The clever competition

There was a time when it rained competitions of all sorts, each more absurd than the one before it. For that reason, today’s consumer is fed up with contests of all kinds. Add to that the fact that by providing contact information they expose themselves to receive spam and… again contests of all kinds.

What I propose here is a very different approach. It is co-organizing a design competition with your customers. Encourage them to bring a change or improvement to your offer and reward the best player! This initiative has several advantages. Participants will get to know your company and its offer initially. Then it calls on customers directly or potential customers. This effectively engages them further towards your offer. Thus, they will remember you when they need your services. Finally, this approach will allow you to gather extremely valuable data on your offer and your clients… for free! Think about it a minute—not only is it an inexpensive marketing action, with the bonus of a free market research, it is noticeable!

I hope that my two posts will help clarify the marketing approaches that you can adopt as an entrepreneur. In conclusion, it is important to understand the nerve of the war on marketing is to connect with the right people and to send the right message at the right time. There are numerous tactics that you can adopt. Some are more onerous, others less so. The important thing is to know how to identify what is the most convenient for your business. To arrive there, the help of a professional is occasionally useful and can save you time and money.

Written by: Jean-Philippe L’Écuyer, Entrepreneur in Residence at Futurpreneur Canada, jplecuyer@futurpreneur.ca

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