Several people asked this week how to market a business or charity (or even yourself), if you have no money for advertising and marketing. The short answer is if you don’t have money, you will need to spend time. You will need to take time to build relationships and network and time to follow leads. Ideally you will want to maintain a relationship with acquaintances, clients, and potential clients long term. Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can help with this.
Some Questions to Answer
1. Who are you trying to reach?
The obvious answer is anyone who wants your product or service. But by trying to reach everyone, you spend resources you don’t have for little return. If you shoot enough random paint balls against a wall, after a long time, the wall will be covered with paint. But if you want only a small portion of the wall painted, shooting paint balls randomly is not the way to do it. It’s better to focus your aim before you shoot, and shoot only at the area that you want to hit. So think about narrowing your market or niche. If you’re a music teacher, do you specialize in piano or guitar? Do you prefer teaching beginners or advanced students? Maybe you like teaching retired adults who have always wanted to take piano lessons. If you narrow your focus, you can enhance your story and focus more specifically on potential clients.
2. What’s your story?
When you find a potential client, have a story to tell them – your elevator speech. The story should tell what you can do for them. What problem can you or your product solve for them? How can you solve their problem in a way that’s different from everyone else?
Specifically, to create your story, you need to ask yourself:
- What is the problem you can solve?
- How can you solve it?
- What do you want them to do next?
For instance the music teacher can talk about helping people fulfill their life long dream to play the piano. Emphasize how you are different from your competition. The music teacher specializes in adults; she understands that teaching an adult beginner is different than teaching a child beginner. Testimonials from previous clients can help. That’s proof that you or your product really can deliver. What you want them to do next depends on whether they are a friend, a previous client, or a potential client. The music teacher can ask friends if they know anyone who wants lessons; she can ask previous clients for testimonials; she can ask a potential client if she can call them later or to take her card.
3. Who do you need in your network?
First think about the people you know – all of them – the parents of the girls who take dance lessons with your daughter, the people with whom you volunteer at the food bank, good friends. Contact them and tell them your story. You can do this the old fashioned way – when you see them or call them on the phone. You can ask them to keep you in mind, or to give you leads, or to follow or like you on your favorite social media.
You can also use social media, like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, to network with those you know; this can really help to grow your business. You can join other networks where potential clients are. Then you can begin to gradually add some of those people to your network. The really wonderful thing about using the online networks is that you can continually remind those in your network that your business exists just by posting something. Just don’t post too often; you don’t want to be obnoxious. And don’t post only about yourself; you are networking to build long-term relationships.