Starting a small business is an exciting prospect. But marketing it? Not so much. If you are looking for some creative marketing ideas for your newly opened business, keep reading.
You already know the basic strategies but the real question is: Are they really working out for you?
Let’s say you start out by telling your family and friends about your exciting new product.
Pro: They know you and want to be supportive of your business so they buy something from you once.
Con: They’re not going to keep making repeat purchases.
Scenario 2: You make a Whatsapp group with most of your contacts and share photos of your products.
Pro: They’re not going to leave the group because they don’t want to seem rude.
Con: They can and will mute you.
And getting muted is just the worst, isn’t it?
So what now? Is your business going to stop with muted whatsapp groups and one time purchases?
It certainly should not!
Well, there is good news for you.
As I am writing this, as per the Live internet stats, 4,937,278,192 people are using the internet at the moment. (Read out the number yourself).
So trust me when I say, you have a lot more options to reach out rather than relatives and whatsapp groups.
The world of online marketing is all the rage now. That’s why now is the perfect time to reach out to a larger consumer base and approach them in most relatable ways possible.
I know what you are thinking? “I don’t have THAT much budget”.
Don’t worry! There are plenty of affordable ways to get started with.
If you are a small business owner, trying to compete with market biggies, then this blog is for you.
At the end of this blog, you will have an idea about a few affordable marketing techniques and how you can implement it for your business.
Added benefit? They won’t leech away a huge chunk of your time or your energy.
So without further delay. Let’s dig in.
Creative Marketing Ideas: An Overview
With the new normal taking over people’s lives, the majority of the population is stuck at home with phones in their hands. Let me guess? you might be reading this blog from your phone too. Am I right?
So just like you, there are millions of other people who are looking for services and products at the comfort of their homes.
If you have a product that you know is in demand, all you need to do now is figure out how to effectively transform your approach into a business-savvy one.
But remember, there’s no “one size fits all” for marketing. It depends on what your business needs and which marketing strategies you are most comfortable with.
After all you WILL have to keep promoting your business constantly and regularly to make sure it appears on the radar.
So read on and choose wisely:
Be Active on Social Media
Social media is where the youth is at, to be honest. And not just the youth, your uncle is probably on social media looking for the best place to get a customized T-shirt right now.
So, you need to make your presence felt on major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Which social media platform is the perfect fit for you will depend on what you plan to sell.
For example, go take a look at Suta’s page on Instagram. Since Instagram is primarily an image-sharing platform, clothing and jewellery brands like Suta (a saree brand) thrive here.
Also, very importantly, people need to know there’s a real person running your account and not just a bot which answers, “Thank you for your feedback” to a three paragraph-long rant from a customer criticising their product. Customers need to feel heard and attended to.
You can use platforms like Facebook to perform a wider range of functions like sharing blogs. Of course, put information out there in a simplified, easy-to-swallow way. Try not to fall in the Too-Long-Didn’t-Read category.
Social media marketing also has certain perks. You can easily piggyback on viral memes and draw the attention of your customers. It doesn’t even really have to be related to your business, it’s just an eye-grabbing strategy and it works.
Create Content that People Are Searching for.
As we’ve said before, blogs draw in customers. Figure out what topics to create content on by knowing what people are commonly looking for. So, how to go about doing this?
First, you need to know what people are Googling. For this, you can use keyword search tools like Keyword Generator and get information from trends.google.com. Not only will this let you know which keywords are searched for but also, the monthly volume of the searches that are related to your business or service.
So, if you have a bakery, type in related terms like “birthday cakes” or “freshly baked breads.” You’ll know whether people are searching for it and to what extent people are searching for it.
The higher the search volume, the more readers you can draw in by writing on those topics.
Also, the readers of your blog don’t immediately need to become your customers. If you post quality content on a regular basis and manage to convince people to subscribe to your blog, that’s profitable for you too. These subscribers can share your articles and increase the visibility of your brand and if they stick with you long enough, they can become potential customers.
Practice Local SEO
This might seem complicated but it really isn’t. We’re talking about Local Search Engine Optimisation. This is especially relevant if your business operates only within a specific area. Let’s say you have a small café in location X.
You need to be visible when people of location X search for “Cafes nearby” or “Location X cafes.”
For this, you need to create a free Google My Business account. Not only does this allow you to show up on Google Maps but also on the local section of the Google Search itself. This is an essential feature for local businesses.
You’re most likely to get traffic from customers who are already in the area and hence they need to know that you’re nearby. So if you have a business in Park Street make sure “Park Street” appears in the title and content of your website pages.
Also, you know how people often Google “Best Cafes in Park Street”? Try to find out if you’re on those lists. If you’re not, reach out to the food bloggers who can put you in there. The same is valid for other kinds of businesses as well.
A local listing not only draws people in, but it also gives them a chance to review your business which appears right there on Google or Google maps for others to check out. Look at the example below.
Credibility and visibility. Two birds, one stone.
Utilize YouTube for promotion
Say you aren’t very comfortable with writing blogs, but you can speak extensively and enthusiastically about your product- opt for YouTube! The following search allows you to figure out what people are searching for on YouTube:
site:youtube.com inurl:watch title:topic
Now sort this according to the “Organic Traffic” and you’re good to go. Target those topics and you will draw in a sizable audience.
Most of us will agree that watching videos is an easier way to learn something than reading about it. That’s exactly why having an active YouTube channel helps. It’s more interactive and more casual.
Plus, you can get a lot more creative with your content as well. You don’t even have to make long in-depth videos, just make a bunch of short, fun and pithy ones.
The best part about being visible on YouTube is that this will make you visible on Google as well since Google owns YouTube.
So go ahead and put your most creative video ideas to the test. Binging on YouTube videos is something we’re all guilty of, you just need to tap in on that guilty pleasure.
Giveaways, Polls, and Contests
We will do anything for free stuff. Seriously, we will.
How many times has your friend tagged you on a random post on Instagram because she “really couldn’t live without that lipstick! And they’re giving it away for free!”?
Plenty, right? Now as a result of that you now know the name of that makeup brand.
Yeah, giveaways might not be free for you but they draw in a ton of audience. An interested audience at that, who are likely to view more of your products. Why else would they be trying so hard to get a free product of yours otherwise?
Polls are not just interactive, they let you understand the demands of your customer base. After all, it’s better than customers simply getting tired of your products and silently shifting over to other brands, right?
Here’s how you can actually listen to them and mold your practices according to consumer response.
Contests are just fun in general. And most importantly, this is sort of like the free version of giveaways since you don’t really need to give anything away. Hold a “Caption this post” contest and see the comments flood in. More comments, more visibility. The prize can be as simple as featuring the winner or the winning comment on your page.
As we have already stated in the beginning, you have to decide which of these is your cup of tea. This will not only depend on your comfort level with a particular marketing strategy but also on your audience.
So, this is the last advice we’re going to leave you with:
Know your audience. After all, if you’re a paediatrician, you won’t market yourself as a tattoo artist would, right?
Knowing your customers’ habits and prominent shopping patterns is the key.
Emphasize what makes you different
“I’m not like the other girls” might be the most annoying sentence you’ve ever heard but you should practice saying “This is not like the other businesses.”
Why? Because there are tens if not hundreds of companies selling exactly what you do. Why should the customer buy from you and no one else?
Here’s where we can really learn from Suta, a clothing brand.
Are Suta’s products cheaper than their competitors? Absolutely not. (However, if yours is, then you should absolutely focus on that.)
What sets it apart then?
Suta draws your attention towards the following details the moment you Google them:
- They are a women-owned business. Two friends started the company as a passion project.
- Their goal is to shine a limelight on their artisans.
- They actually pay their artisans well, unlike the big-name clothing brands like Forever 21.
- Last but not the least, they believe in minimalism.
Remember, this is the information that they themselves are putting out there, front and centre. And this is exactly what sets them apart.
They make it clear that when you decide to buy from them, you are not only supporting a women-owned business- you are supporting labour rights.
Their selling point is not only relatability (you too want a successful business with your childhood best friend, right?) but also moral righteousness (no one wants to be on the other side of labor rights).
There has to be something different about your products. Or, even if there isn’t- there has to be something different about you. Find out what makes you special and sell that.
Have interesting ads in interesting places
“Ads? That’s gonna burn a hole in my pocket!” you exclaim.
What if I told you there’s a cheat code?
Did you know there are coupons and discounts that you can access for Facebook and Google ads? Don’t believe us? Just Google “Google Ads Discount Code 2021.”
Did you notice something odd about the last sentence? Yes, there was an overabundance of “Google.”
That’s exactly how much we use Google.
This is exactly why your product, say bedsheets, needs to show up on Google when someone Googles “quality bed sheet.”
Putting ads on Facebook is a little less effective because people are more concerned with looking at memes than buying bed sheets BUT what if they were already looking for bedsheets?
Whether you consider it creepy or not, Facebook knows what its users have been searching for. And you, as a seller, can target your ad based on “Purchase habits” under the “Behaviors” option of their “Detailed Targeting” feature.
Also, you need to make your ads interesting- which leads us to…
Learn how to create Infographics
What do you do when you stumble across a post on Facebook which has a huge chunk of text that ends with the words “See More”?
You scroll past and move on with your life. No one has time to read a treatise on Facebook of all places.
But what if you stumbled across a scrumptious plate of brownies? Oh, AND it’s “Sugar-free” and “gluten-free”?
Don’t lie, you’d click on the link. So would we, to be honest. Even if we don’t have any plans of buying it, we’d at least visit the site once to check out the product details and the price. And boom! The company has successfully managed to show you all of their other products as well.
What drew you in? The photo of the brownies.
Now, even if you don’t sell mouth-watering brownies, you can still use this strategy to lure people in.
Let’s say your business provides online consultation regarding mental health. Rather than just putting up your name and contacts on the ad, maybe provide knowledge tidbits on mental health that prove you really know what you’re doing.
People hate being preached at but they like random pieces of information that they find over the internet. Supply that in an attractive packaging. Infographics are basically eye-candies.
Attractive graphics along with an interesting piece of info? When have you ever scrolled past that?
Partner up with the right channels
You have your eyes on a dress that you saw on Instagram. But it looks better because of the neckpiece that the model is wearing with it. Only makes sense to get that neckpiece as well, right? And look! The jewelry page is tagged as well! How lucky for you.
And how lucky for the jewelry page as well, right? Now they have you checking out their entire collection.
Exactly why collabs are a great area. If you find another small business with a similar target audience, pair up!
It’s a win-win scenario. You get to tap into their consumer base and they get to tap into yours.
Remember the song “Under Pressure”? The legendary collaboration between Queen and David Bowie? Even now, that single song successfully performs the job of introducing Bowie fans to Queen and Queen fans to Bowie.
It’s not like you’re trying to find a soulmate. Try out different marketing partnerships, you’re bound to find a variety of new customers.
Turn EVERYONE into walking billboards
Subtlety and marketing are antithetical concepts. Moody novelists who consider it boorish and uncouth to talk about their books in public- also don’t sell more than a dozen copies.
Putting your brand name and logo on a t-shirt might be the gaudiest form of marketing but it works!
If YouTubers aren’t scared of shameless merch plugs, why are you?
Wear your merch.
Make your employees wear your merch.
Offer a free T-shirt with your brand logo to your customers and make them wear your merch.
Make EVERYONE wear your merch!
Why does Aakash hand out these T-shirts? Because they get to have a thousand brainiacs walking around as living billboards.
The moment you start wondering where you should send your teenage nephew from his 11th standard coaching, one of these Aakash ambassadors is going to walk by you. And voila! Now the idea has successfully been implanted in your head.
See, no one says “no” to free clothing, even if it is just a single-colored T-shirt with your business info on the back. And it doesn’t have to be a boring T-shirt. If you get creative with your designs then it only helps you. The “that’s a cool t-shirt, where did you get it from?” factor never stops working.
Don’t want to shell out a fortune on free clothing? Go for smaller items like paper weights, cups or key-chains.
As a child, every time I went to my doctor, I noticed a beautiful golden paperweight in the shape of a pyramid on his desk. I have forgotten the name of my doctor’s clinic but I’ll never forget that the pyramid was a gift from Cipla.
Reviews are crucial!
You saw a pair of boots in a Facebook ad. You’ve only seen your favorite K-drama characters wear it. Is it really available in your country? Or is it a scam?
What do you do to verify if the site is legit? You check the reviews. If there isn’t a single review, then it’s easy to reach the conclusion that you’re going to get cheated out of your money.
So, not only do reviews serve the purpose of letting your customers know the quality of your products/service, they’re also a marker of the legitimacy of your business.
You’re not Flipkart or Amazon. So how should your customers know they can trust you?
That’s why even bad reviews help. Would you trust a site where every product had a 5-star rating? No, right? Exactly why you should have a decent number of substantial reviews to draw in more customers.
Where would you get reviews from if you’re just getting started? Give away a few of your products for free if you have to, in exchange for reviews.
But you won’t always have to. You can always ask your customers to tag your business when they’re posting photos of your restaurant or wearing items of your clothing line.
Customer satisfaction is the key to getting more customers.
Coupons, free trials, and SALE!
Have we told you we love free stuff? Well, we love sales as well. If you plaster the word “SALE!!!!” in great big, bold letters on a beard trimmer, I, a woman, will buy it. That’s how much it works.
We buy stuff that we don’t need, have never needed, and are never going to need as long as they’re on sale.
How many times have you entered a shopping complex to buy one packet of gum and have left with three gigantic packs of cookies just because the banner said “Buy two get one free”?
How many times have you ordered a Domino’s pizza just because they offered you a “25% off” coupon?
And you don’t even have to lose money to make money in this scenario. Keeping a profit percentage despite offering discounts is not difficult.
Plus, your customers are going to recommend your business to their acquaintances as well because they’ll feel like they got a great deal.
About free trials… remember when Taylor Swift pulled her music off Spotify? Well, in the short span of time when her music could be streamed for free- people got so addicted to it that they had no choice but to buy her albums.
And of course! How can we forget about Jio? When the plan to offer free calling and data packs were announced, some of us obviously thought it was a hoax. But when everyone else started enjoying the benefits of a completely free network, we all got a Jio SIM too. Jio extended its free trial offer so long that most of us practically forgot that there was life before free high-speed internet at all. And right when we were addicted- BAM! Jio closed its trap and there we were- too dependent on it to give up now that we had to pay for it.
Also, Mukesh Ambani very smartly kept handing out freebies after the end of each free trial period. That’s why people kept believing that this free data paradise would never come to an end. Extremely smart marketing, see?
That’s the magic of free trials. If you have a good enough product, your customers will get addicted to it during the free trial period.
And this dependency is not easy to shake off. This is exactly why Netflix or Amazon Prime or YouTube Premium never run out of subscribers.
At the end of the free trial, the subscription fee seems like a small price to pay for the comfort that you have gotten used to.
Another sure-shot way to get customers.
Engage in E-mail Marketing (but don’t spam)
This one’s a bit tricky because we all hate spam. But then, sending out group emails to those who subscribe to your blog or newsletters is also one of the easiest processes out there.
So how to get email marketing right?
Don’t inundate your subscribers with emails
They’ll get irritated and unsubscribe. Find out how many emails per month gets you the best response. For this, try out different strategies in different months- not all at once. The least frequency of sending emails should be once a month and the most should be twice a week.
Find out when to send out the emails to get more traffic to your site.
The timing is important. Again, figure out the answer to this question by sending out emails at different points of time over the span of a few months. Not all at once.
Make sure you’re sending out the mails to valid email addresses.
Also, keep updating the list of your subscribers’ emails to make sure you’re not just reaching out to a few old customers who might have changed their email addresses by now.
Let people unsubscribe if they want to.
Keeping your subscribers hostage by making the process of unsubscribing unreasonably complicated, is not a good look for your business. If they want to leave, they should at least leave with a good parting impression, right?
Contact Influencers for Outreach
If a 23rd-century historian ever starts writing about us, they’re going to present influencers as the 21st-century aristocracy.
While it makes sense why every teenager would suddenly go crazy for a drink that Pewdiepie was spotted sipping during one of his videos, it seems to make no sense why a pretty girl on Instagram would randomly become coveted by dozens of companies.
How do you make sense of that? Well, they’re literally- influencers. They make a living out of influencing people to do what they do. Especially because they make what they do on a daily basis look glorious.
Why should you care about influencers? Because they can make your product look glorious as well. If they have your beverage in their hands, their entire followers base is going to want that beverage. If they live in your resort for one weekend, you’re going to get a sizable footfall soon.
The thing is- some smaller influencers might not even want payment for showing off your products. You can simply send them free samples.
This is a win-win situation for both of you. Just like you want to tap into the influencer’s follower base, the influencer wants to increase their profile reach to get yet more sponsors.
This is an especially effective marketing strategy if you have a younger target audience.
If Komal Pandey using that foundation, it has to be good, right?
Know Your Customers
Okay, so last but definitely not the least: Do you know who your ideal customer is?
We’ve used the term “target audience” multiple times in this article and there’s a very good reason for it.
How many copies of your steaming hot erotica are you going to sell if you market it to 60-year-olds?
Not a lot, right?
This is why conducting market surveys is a crucial step before you start marketing.
You cannot be surprised that no one’s buying your product if you’ve never tried figuring out if there was any demand for your product in the first place.
This is also why creating an ideal buyer persona is so important.
What does this mean?
This means putting yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer and then trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Narrowing down your target helps you narrow down your creative marketing ideas as well. You cannot and should not try every single strategy in the book.
How to not burn out while marketing? Focus on short-term goals and streamline your marketing strategies according to your consumer base.
We know how exhausting getting a business started can be. Hopefully, now you have somewhat of a simplified but comprehensive idea of how to market your business.
Did we miss out any creative marketing ideas? Let us know in the comments below!
Godspeed, budding entrepreneurs!
Frequently Asked Questions
The very FIRST thing you need to do is get registered on Google My Business. Otherwise your business is just not going to show on Google maps or Google Search when people make local searches. Make sure a lot of exciting photos and reviews pop up when people Google your business.
Utilizing User Generated Content. GoPro’s entire marketing campaign is based on user generated content. What this basically means is that you use the photos, videos, etc. of your users genuinely enjoying your product as a part of your marketing campaign. It adds a lot of credibility to your business as customers always trust other customers more than you, the business owner.
Email marketing is way cheaper than PPC social media marketing. Mailchimp in fact remains free till you have two thousand subscribers. But if you can get really creative with your content, any free social media account can be great for marketing as well!
Nowadays small businesses have taken to Instagram Reels and YouTube shorts to create addictive content that also sells their products. If you can manage to make relatable, catchy content- that’s great! If that takes too long to catch on, really stress on User Generated Content.