I hear it all the time….”We can’t afford to market.” “We don’t have time to market.” “We can’t get out of the building to market.” “We don’t even know where to start.” “I can’t trust any of these sales people.” That’s just to name a few. And guess what? You are right! If marketing is not your gig, then it can seem overwhelming and seem like it is something that just the big guys can afford. But let me tell you, there is nothing that is further from the truth. Marketing MUST be a part of your business. And it must be set up so that it is not a jerky component, meaning you are marketing hot and heavy – then it stops for a few months – and then you start back up. It needs consistency and it needs some budget consistently. PERIOD. So if I can give you a word of advise, stop making excuses and find someone you can trust and get one board, your you will be status quo from here on out.

Here are just a few simple items that you can do yourself to get marketing started. But remember, these must be placed in a calendar with no excuses to keep them going. And if you do not think you can do it yourself because of time…. find someone that can!

1. Create Your Story…

…or as many like to call it, an elevator speech. To me it sounds so “salesy” thought. You have a story and that is what you want others to know. This is the top way you can be marketing all the time — wherever you are (soccer game, coffee shop, in line to check out, getting your oil changed, enjoying a beer at a local establishment – sorry, I had to throw that in there.) Therefore, you need a captivating story.

We may complain about kids, teens and even millennial not having good attention spans….but research shows the average attention span of an adult (grown up) is about six seconds (with the real good ones hitting eight seconds. That’s all the time you have to grab someone’s attention.

Telling your story can lead to interest, which could then lead to engagement. If successful you have about a minute to really “sell” your product or service. Invest time and execute the delivery of your story, the return on your investment will pay huge in terms of some amazing business opportunities. And remember, practice makes perfect!

2. Think Local

Who is your customer? Where are they in your community? How can you support your future customer? Is there a way to donate your time or even to sponsor events in your community to get the word out?

Search for opportunities to get in front of your customer while making a difference. Be sure you have a clean, precise marketing message and it is delivered in a non-salesy way.

3. There is no “I” in TEAM

Collaborating with other strong, leaders in your community whether it be business owners or non-profits is a way to cross promote your products and brands. How can you support each other? Do not think about how you can grow, think “how can I be a connector?” Spend your time getting to know other people and business owners so that you can connect them to those you know around you. It will pay off two-fold if you are acting bigger than just your business.

4. Grow Your Friend-base

Many people call this “Networking” but I look at it as a way to increase my friendship base. Get out there and have fun with other business owners. Yes, you can shake hands, tell your story and even try and sell – but if you are doing in in a fun atmosphere with the attitude that you are meeting new friends, you will be way more successful. Networking sounds like a job…. But meeting new friends just sounds fun!

Bottom line, you need to plan and commit to finding new friends consistently. So make a plan and pick a number of events you will attend each month to make new friends…ok, you can call in network if you want. It is the single most important practice you can add to your marketing strategy.

5. Donate Your Time

Offer to teach about your business or the subject matter that your business is about. Even if you hate public speaking, you can’t put a price tag on a roomful of people listening to you! Take advantage of it and create a following.

So the next time an organization is looking for volunteers to speak or lead training – raise your hand! Not only will it pay off, you will be known as an expert in your field.

6. Become a Media Friend

Marketing & Advertising has changed because of the ever-changing technology. Today, a small business owner can accomplish a lot without hiring a professional firm. Become friends with the local media outlets. They have a job to do as well, and if you an help them with their jobs and be a person for them to rely on – you will have much better luck getting your word out too. Who is your local media outlet? What do you know about them? Could you take them to lunch and learn a bit more?

7. Testi-Money

Testimonies = Money

Be sure to ask your customers for testimonies. With technology there are so many ways to showcase these report cards from your clients. Yelp, Facebook and websites just to name a few. Make sure you get feedback each and every time you work with a client. Remember, you can also get some important feedback if you need to improve too. These testimonies lead to referrals, which makes getting to a new client much easier if you are referred. So don’t be shy! Ask for the referral…and you can even make it worth their time with a prize or gift.

8. It’s a Two-Way Street

Knowing your customer and keeping in touch with them will pay off in the long run. You cannot just expect your customer to stay with you because you did a good job. You need to stay in touch, try and understand their needs and how you can go above and beyond their expectations. Keeping your customers is much cheaper than going out and finding new ones. But look at it like a friendship. If you always have to be the one to reach out to a friend it gets old and you tend to stop trying. You want them to take the initiative too creating that two way street. So don’t sit back and wait for your customer to contact you. Create strong relationships with your customers, even if that means coming up with new, unique ways to reach out to them. Be sure you have several different ways to stay connected, ie: email and social media.

So there you have it! If you have any comments or questions, be sure to let us know!