If your business has tried newspaper or television ads, direct mail, the Yellow Pages, or door hangers to bring in customers, you know how expensive that can be. What if I told you that there are four online marketing channels that can drive customers to your location or website—and you don’t have to spend more than $150 per month on any of them. Each of these is especially valuable if you use them to disseminate compelling, limited-time offers. Sound interesting? Here are my Top 4 Shoestring Marketing Channels. Two will help you to re-connect with existing customers, and the other two can be used to attract new customers.
#1 Text Messaging—Advertising Efficiency and Timeliness
What do you do when your smart phone signals the arrival of a new text message? You read it, right? Almost immediately, right? Many smart marketers are now taking advantage of text messaging to market a variety of products and services and drive customers into their store or to give them a call. You can find many reputable bulk text messaging services for less than $100/mo. The price is usually based upon the number of cell phone numbers in your database.
How do you get cell phone numbers from your customers? There are a variety of methods. First, you may be surprised to find that many of your customers have already given you their cell phone number. Since many families have eliminated their land lines, the phone numbers in your database may include quite a few cell phone numbers.
Some businesses have set up kiosks in their store that allow customers to input their cell phone numbers into a small device in return for VIP status, which might include special discounts, rewards programs, etc. And, sometimes all you need is a sign saying “Text ‘VIP’ to xxxxxx to join our VIP Club.”
#2 Email—Unlimited Connections for Less Than $50 per Month.
It’s not new, but it is still one of the most effective ways to get a special offer to past customers—who are always among your best prospects. With the advent of smart phones, your emailed offer can be delivered directly into the hands of past customers at just the right time. Imagine a restaurant sending out a free drink offer just before lunchtime. Or think about an auto maintenance business offering a discount on an oil change—at just about the time when a customer is likely to have driven enough miles to need one.
With email, you can beautifully display images to further enhance your advertising message.
Email services are still one of the most cost effective marketing tools available, and you can find ones that will send a series of messages on a schedule you choose.
Learn more about email marketing here.
#3 Sponsored Search Advertising—Reach New Customers Looking for Your Products & Services
The advantage of sponsored search is that it puts your ad in front of exactly those people who are looking for what you sell at exactly the time when they are getting ready to buy. If you want to target people on the basis of their location (or their proximity to your location) you can do that too. In fact, Google offers local businesses opportunities to advertise to smart phone users through their Maps app.
Google and Bing/Yahoo both offer options for ads to be displayed when the search engine user types in a search phrase chosen by the advertiser as relevant to the business. The ads can be targeted to a geographical area as small as a 10 mile radius around a specific location or as large as the entire world.
If you have a Google+ listing for your business (and you should—it’s free!), you can use that medium to advertise a special offer.
Many business owners have told me that they find sponsored search ads to be expensive. They are right—these ads can be very expensive and non-productive if you are not targeting them appropriately. But, if your potential customers are using the search engines to find providers of your products and services, I have found that a budget of $150 or less is usually large enough to bring you some cost-effective sales. Sometimes a larger budget will bring you even more customers, however.
Learn more about pay-per-click sponsored search advertising here.
#4 Foursquare—Market to New Customers in Your Neighborhood
Foursquare is not the only social media advertising channel that is a mobile medium. Facebook, Groupon and Yelp are perhaps more well-known, but also require larger budget commitments. Nevertheless, FourSquare claims to have more than 45 million members. The minimum budget for FourSquare advertising is $50/mo.
Foursquare is a social medium that allows a local business to reward its loyal customers and to use them to recruit more customers from among these customers’ friends. Because it uses GPS locating, you can also promote your business to FourSquare members who are in the vicinity of your business. FourSquare is designed to share reviews and offers. Savvy business owners often assign an employee to the task of keeping their FourSquare engagement fresh and active.
To get a better sense of how businesses in your area are using FourSquare, download the FourSquare app on your phone and begin to engage as a FourSquare member first.
Call 720-341-6336 today to request assistance in developing and executing a results-oriented online advertising strategy.