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The past few years have been troublesome for many business owners. Brexit, general elections, a global pandemic and the rising cost of living have certainly contributed to many small businesses failing. In fact, according to Government research, the number of businesses has fallen by 6.5% since 2020.
Most businesses in the UK are what’s called SMEs – small to medium-sized enterprises. According to the UK Government, at the start of 2021, there were 5.5 million of the country’s 5.6 million businesses which fell into the small business category with fewer than 50 employees to their name. However, the measures to support businesses during the initial period of Covid-19 actually helped some businesses to survive more than in previous years. That said, since the support measures have been lifted, businesses are once again running the risk of failing or have already failed.
What may help a business to survive in these turbulent times is promotion. Knowing how to promote a business is something that very few business owners have had education or training on. Let’s have a look at some ideas.
How to promote your business
If you have a product or a service, that’s the first step to having a successful business. The other step – the one that will make or break your business – is promoting it effectively. Many business owners don’t know the first thing about marketing. However, there are a few key things that can get you started in promoting your business. What’s more, they don’t need to cost the earth either – which is vitally important given today’s economic climate.
Logos and branding
Before you launch into promoting your business, you need to have something to show for it. Creating a brand and logo is the first step to promoting a business successfully. The idea behind your business cannot be sold to potential customers if there are no visuals or band identity. You need to aim for recognition and persuade potential customers that your business has something to offer.
Think about your business’s mission statement. What is your business’s personality and what are its values? Before promoting it, these need to be very clear in your mind. Once you’re secure in your business’s mission and goals, creating a logo to reflect and promote these should be the next logical step. A logo doesn’t need to be expensive, but a good one can help you stand out from the competition.
Design and publish your website
These days, websites and businesses go hand-in-hand. The first thing a potential customer is going to do is Google what product or service they’re looking for, or Google your business name if they come across it. Having a website up and running not only makes you look professional, but it also allows you to promote your business in a variety of ways both initially and further down the line.
Your website is your business’s home. It might even be its only home if you don’t have or need business premises. So, getting it right is crucial. Put everything you can on your website including photos, contact details and events your brand has been at or will be attending.
Search Engine Optimisation
Your website holds the key to drumming a lot of online trade. But, if no one can find it, then it serves no purpose. Have a read up on some basic search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies and techniques. Many web design tools come with integrated SEO software or plug-ins which can be really useful (especially if you don’t know what you’re doing!).
SEO isn’t something that you can do once and leave. It is a constant task of updating your content and making sure it’s not only relevant but also finds its way onto your potential customer’s phone and laptop screens.
Along with a website, having a page on the most popular social networking sites is essential for drumming up business these days. With thousands of people scrolling through Facebook and Instagram every second, having a business profile can help you get noticed.
You can put your business profile on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and even TikTok. Make sure the profile has a great description as well as a link to your website. Again, social networking requires actual networking – don’t just leave your business pages alone, you’ll need to actively promote them, sharing them across platforms and news feeds. You can also create discussions in relevant groups too. But watch out, you don’t want to go overboard and get on potential clients’ nerves with constant spamming!
How to promote your local business
Having an online presence is all well and good, but if you’re a business that serves a local area, you’ll want to know how you can best promote it locally too.
Here are a few ways to help you launch into the local area.
If you’ve already had a few clients, ask them to write a review or a testimonial. You can include these on your marketing materials and on your website to help drum up more business. Businesses with a particular focus on a local area rely heavily on having a good reputation in that area, so reviews from local customers are essential.
If a review isn’t all that great, it offers opportunities for growth, creating a business that’s credible and takes its customers’ views seriously. If you send out emails after purchases or after having delivered a service, make sure there’s a link in the email to ask the customer to leave their feedback. Pop-ups also work well for customer feedback too.
Word of mouth
Of course, the best way of promoting your local business is by word of mouth. Research has shown that a whopping 92% of people value their close friends and families’ referrals more than any other kind of business promotion. But for this, you need to get your customers talking!
Getting the first few customers is the most difficult part of launching a business, but once you have a few, they’ll work as indirect marketers for you amongst their friends and family. It’s essential to give them something to talk about, though. So, give it your all and go out of your way to impress your customers. Having referral schemes or rewards for recommending a friend or family member is also an excellent way of promoting the word-of-mouth connection.
Offer your skills to the local community
Depending on your business, you could set up teaching some of your skills to the local community. If you’re a painter, offer painting classes. If you’re an IT whizz, offer computer skills workshops. Even better is if you offer them for free to benefit the local community or local charity.
Alternatively, local colleges are always on the lookout for teachers of specific skills. If you think you’ve got the time and skills to offer, it’ll be a great way of promoting your business as well as creating promotion materials and publicising your skills locally.
Local schools and charities often do fundraising events. By offering up a prize, you can also promote your business to those taking part. If you run a hair salon, offering a free cut or £20 voucher off a hair treatment won’t cost the business too much but could create a buzz around it. The winner could also love the experience so much that they rebook.
The better the prize your offer, the greater the talk surrounding it. Not only will the event raise money for the cause, but you’ll get your business out there and promoted at a local level.
Participate in local events
If your local area has a community that thrives on having local events, offer to join in. Give up your time and take time to get to know your potential clientele. Not only could you drum up business, but you’re also learning about your potential customers and can begin to understand what may make them want to purchase your products or services. Giving up your time in this way really lets your customers know that you care about them and their needs.
How to promote your real estate business
When it comes to estate agents, gone are the days of visiting a branch and picking up house brochures and flicking through them. These days, most of it is done online. You can have a browse of homes without so much as leaving the comfort of your sofa! As such, promoting a real estate business should also focus on attracting online footfall.
Competition is quite often fierce. Houses are being snapped up above the asking price within a matter of hours in some areas. To stand out from other estate agents, a well-thought-out marketing strategy is key.
Here are a few ideas:
Many may think that blogging is not all that valuable for real estate businesses, but they’d be wrong. Blogging carefully chosen content is a great way of presenting your business to the masses. You can show yourself to be an expert in your field and write snappy content about the successful sales that you have secured for your customers.
A smooth website
The last thing that customers want is a clunky, out-of-date website. If they’re trying to browse properties online, they want a smooth user experience, or they’ll quickly switch to a competitor’s site.
An active presence on social networking sites
The housing market is so fast-paced that you don’t want to miss out on a potential customer because they didn’t know where to look for a property that you’re marketing. Share your blog posts on your socials to show your skills. Share compelling links and ‘sneak previews’ of up-and-coming properties to get potential customers wanting more.
Sharing your success as an estate agent
Of course, for an estate agent, it’s not necessarily about attracting buyers of houses but about attracting sellers. Why should a customer choose you? What do you have to offer them? Share with potential customers your success rates in marketing and selling properties that are just like theirs. You need to make sure you appeal to your audience and that you understand what they want and need.
List your real estate business online
Find the places where people look for estate agents and make sure you have a presence there. This can include finding house mover groups on social networking sites as well as local town groups too. If you’re present in such places, people are more likely to remember your business when it’s time for them to move home.
Enter business awards
If there’s a business award to be had, make sure you’re on the nominations list! Winning a prestigious award, whether it’s ‘best up-and-coming estate agent’, ‘best new business’ or ‘entrepreneur of the year’ will do amazing things when it comes to business promotion! There is often press coverage too!
How to promote your health care business
Health care businesses are often trickier to promote than other types of business simply because people who are looking for health-related products are often unwell or in need of support. The last thing you want to be doing is preying on the vulnerable. However, there are ways that you can maximise promoting your health care business whilst offering the utmost care and consideration for your potential clients.
Offering no-obligation consultations
Depending on the slant of the health care business, offering free consultations – whether it’s a skincare consultation, a tooth whitening consultation, or a physiotherapy consultation – can help to promote your business.
Those consultations often lead to conversions and purchases as well as recommendations via word of mouth to other potential clients. It gives you a real opportunity to promote your business whilst helping a potential client from the outset.
Reach out to other businesses
If you offer a particular service that you think may benefit another business’s clients, reach out to that business. Perhaps you can work together to refer clients to each other. For example, a physiotherapist could recommend a particular personal trainer or vice versa.
Exhibit at trade shows
There are often trade shows in the health care field. Having a stand at a trade fair can help get your products and services known by the industry. You may also make valuable connections with other businesses and people in your field.
With trade shows being specific to your industry, it is possible to make real connections and expose your business to prospective buyers and clients. However, usually, having a stand at a trade fair can be expensive so it’s important to do your homework and work out if it is a beneficial move.
Offer loyalty rewards and discounts
People are often surprised by this suggestion when it comes to a health care business. However, promotions, discounts and loyalty rewards work for most businesses so why not try it out? An example of this could be an introductory offer for a product or service that will bring in customers who then rebook subsequent services or go on to purchase additional products.
Additionally, getting in touch with former clients to ask them how their health is going is another way that could help customers return to buying your products and services.
How to promote your food business
Food businesses may find there are times when they are rushed off their feet and other times when they are idly twiddling their thumbs. Food businesses, like retail businesses, are often seasonal and appeal at different times of year.
Here are a few ideas to promote your food business.
Networking and collaboration
If you have a small café, why not collaborate with a local baker and offer to use their bread in your meals. Both the baker and the café benefit from the collaboration and can promote each other’s businesses.
Run a competition
It could be a simple offer of a hamper of your food or a voucher for a meal. People love the chance to win, so get them on board. Even if they don’t win, competitions ensure that people talk about your business and may pop in to sample your goods whilst entering the contest.
Host a community event
Offer to host or cater for a community event in your local area. This gives your business an opportunity to increase its brand awareness in the local area as well as allow potential future customers to sample your goods.
How to promote your retail business
Promoting a retail business when times are hard financially is tough. The cost-of-living crisis has impacted retail businesses hard. However, there are steps you can take to drum up business even in the tough times.
Get your potential customers to click on your links
If you send out promotional emails, make sure that yours stand out from others. Personalise them. What you want to happen is that someone will take the time to read your email and want to click on your links to take them to your website.
Having a bright and bold ‘call to action’ button on an email is an easy way of showing customers the way to your retail business. Why not ask them a question to pique their interest further, too?
Blogging is cost-effective way of getting your business out there. You can engage with customers and potential customers by producing engaging content. Blogging can provide customers with updates as well as cause it to rank on search engines to drum up business that way.
Show off your own products
If you’ve a clothing store, wear the clothing and talk about it when asked – the same goes for any fashion brand! People love to talk and compliment each other on their attire, so make sure you use these opportunities by wearing and using your own products as much as possible.
Getting someone well-known to wear or use your brand is the latest way of business promotion. Instagram is an excellent platform for this. Reach out to influencers and celebrities (even the minor ones) to see if they’d be interested in promoting your business by trying your products and talking about them on their social platforms.
How to promote your electrician business
If you’re an electrician with your own business, there are many ways that you can promote it.
Let’s look at a few:
Many people who need electricians look in business directories such as Yell or Check a Trade. Being listed on such sites will ensure that your brand and business appear in searches online or are printed in directories for those that still use them.
There are also local directories that offer free or low-cost listings too.
Calls to action
Visitors may look at your website, but you need to turn these visitors into leads. Having easy-to-find ‘call-to-action’ buttons on your web pages makes it easier to potential customers to find out more information. Offering a no-obligation quotation with a clickable link or form is really easy to do.
Ask for reviews and testimonials
If you’ve had a few customers, ask them for their feedback and promote it (if it’s good!) on your website and socials. As mentioned, people trust the views of others when looking for trades, so make sure you share your positive reviews.
How to promote your construction business
Similar to promoting an electrician business, promoting a construction business should include registering on trade websites and business directories. Aside from those mentioned above, there are a few other things that those in the construction business can do to promote it.
If you’re working on a project, make sure you take with you some outdoor advertising materials such as a billboard or panel to display. This way, people passing the area (say, a house that you’re working on) will see the advertising and will consider using your business when looking to have similar work done on their property.
Whilst this is a little time-consuming, if you’re in an area working on a construction project and there are similar properties or premises nearby that would likely also benefit from similar work, drop your leaflets through their doors. A neighbour of a house that you’ve just worked on may see the work and be tempted to have similar work done. If your leaflet drops through the letterbox, they will be much more inclined to use you to do their job too.
Offer referral discounts
If you’re working on a property, offer the owners an incentive to tell their friends. If one signs up, you can reward your original customer. This way, you’re getting your existing clients to do some of the hard work for you.
Have a branded vehicle
If you drive a van for your business, make sure your logo and branding feature. That way, if you’re parked next to where you’re working, others may be tempted to contact you to complete their work.
Equally, if you’ve got a distinctive van with clear branding, those you pass in town or who see your van parked in a car park may be tempted to get in touch with you. If you drive a plain truck, this business promotion opportunity is missed.
The lasting impression
Promoting a business is all about giving a good first impression. But it needs to be one that lasts too. Our final piece of advice is not to spam your potential clients with promotional material or offers. If it’s too much, it won’t be appreciated and can turn potential customers off, and that’s the last thing you want when trying to promote a business!