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Without customers you have no business. Marketing is the art of taking your product or service to your desired customers and developing a market for it.
The answer many people come to is to place an advertisement in the media or go to the local radio station to start a media campaign. While both of these are valid ways forward, they can be expensive and if you are starting on a tight budget you should look at all the options before making your marketing choices.
Marketing is wide-encompassing and can include building your brand, choice of business name, the look and feel of your design, PR, paid offline and online media, social media, events, business networking and various other. Consider your target market and if they are a specific group think about where they go, what they do and what they read and then target those opportunities.
You can begin with a zero budget and make most use of free tools and ideas to get started.
1. Networking is one way forward. There are the physical networks, business clubs and groups like the Chamber of Commerce, Best of Guernsey, WDF, IOD, and the CGi can give you immediate access to potential customers.
2. Create a special promotion for your extended family, friends and networks you are already part of.
3. Attend events - for example if you are offering a dog walking service, go to dog shows, pet shops and vets and see if they will display your cards or allow you to target their customers. Get a stand at various Annual Shows and Fairs, Seafront Sundays and Christmas events. Engage in local community events and people will get to know about you.
4. Create a Facebook page – it’s one of the best free and highly social tools to get new customers and engage with existing. Facebook pages are highly visual and viral, they can be customised to your brand and you can develop more sophisticated tabs to capture emails, organise promotions or create a store on Facebook. Your Facebook page can be your initial website containing all the business details. A Facebook page is free and can be created in 10 minutes.
5. Leverage your LinkedIn profile – LinkedIn is easily the most important business network out there. Make sure you have a profile and it’s a good one, with a good picture and relevant qualifications and career milestones that will help sell your products and services. LinkedIn is also one of the best tools to find potential partners, employees, advisors or simply promote your offering to your network.
6. Deal sites like QuidsIn and Guernsey Treats could work well for some businesses but you need to be careful about your pricing and positioning.
7. Send a press release to Guernsey Press, BBC, Island FM, Channel TV, Business Brief etc – if you have an interesting story to tell, don’t be surprised to get a call or email asking you to appear for an interview!
8. Print business cards and leaflets - this can be done at home or for little cost, and then distribute them to the people you want to buy your product or service or potentially interested.
9. Send an email newsletter to your customers – you will need to capture the emails of your customers and make sure they can unsubscribe from your emails. It is true that there is an overload of promotional emails in our inboxes, yet email marketing if also one of the key marketing channels for many businesses in re-engaging with existing customers. If your customers value your services and you create great emails with good content and promotions, some of them will definitely read your emails.
10. Word of mouth – that’s the holly grail of marketing but you cannot exactly guarantee it. Make sure you have a good product, deliver a great service keeping your customers happy, keep working away on marketing and it will come. Word of mouth is the vital element, particularly in a small Island like Guernsey.
It is also really important to try to measure the success of each your efforts. With some it may not be possible to measure exactly but gone are the times when this quote was true, it is now easier than ever to calculate the exact return on your marketing spend.
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” - John Wannamaker.