<ul><li>Marketing a Small Business </li></ul>Without a Budget Written by Dominic Povey (Founder)
Take one small business… Bath Soup Company was formed by three entrepreneurial students at the University of Bath to offer a quick, hot and healthy food option on campus. Dedicated to helping its local community, Bath Soup Company works extensively with local producers, musicians and charities. The combination of an exceptional product, an inspiring story and the entrepreneurial drive of the founders has fuelled Bath Soup Company’s growth beyond campus, initially attending local farmer’s markets and then setting up the Bath Soup Company Canteen in Bath’s city centre. Bath Soup Company’s origin as a student business with little to no capital has meant its founders have become very apt at finding ways to minimise expenditure. This guide shows how a combination of new media and local press were used to successfully market Bath Soup Company with no budget. Hopefully you will find these ideas relevant and inspiring for your business.
Create an online presence An online presence was created at www.bathsoupcompany.co.uk. A simple, cost effective website was used to offer usability above all. Integrating Twitter and YouTube links offers interesting, updatable content without the need for an expensive content management system. Google Analytics offers a free way to monitor your website’s traffic, your visitor’s geographic location and their navigational habits. This is very useful information when trying to improve the relevance and effectiveness of your website .
Make it findable The Bath Soup Company Canteen was registered with Google’s Small Business Centre. This registers a business location on Google maps, which is then displayed at the top of the Google’s natural search results , for free. There are many other free business directories available such as YellowPages.com and Yahoo!Local . Make sure your web address is always listed. Google Adwords can be employed to take advantage of Google’s paid search results . A well targeted campaign will keep costs down. Bath Soup Company used a geographic restriction to limit its campaign to users located within a 10 mile radius of Bath. Also, look out for free Google Adwords vouchers offered by company formation services and banks offering business accounts.
Get in the papers Local newspapers , magazines and radio stations can offer very effective PR for free, all you need to do is offer them a story worthy of news… Bath’s local press and radio have covered Bath Soup Company’s journey from University campus to city centre, its involvement with Bath’s Flavours of the West event , an award received for its contribution to the local community and a culinary review of its product . There’s bound to be some ideas there for your business. Remember to include your web address in any press releases and use social media to share your new found fame with your customers.
Utilise Social Media Social media allows you to create content that can greatly enhance your brand image and generate huge PR for your business. It allows you to engage with your customers and take advantage of the most powerful force when marketing on a budget, viral marketing . Have fun . People primarily use social media to interact with friends and have fun. Therefore make sure the content you create works for your business but at the same time, is fun, light and interesting . Bath Soup Company ran a series of YouTube videos detailing the creation of Bath Soup Company’s Canteen in only 4 days. With a deadline so tight, we just had to see the funny side.
Utilise Social Media Social media allows you to create content that can greatly enhance your brand image and generate huge PR for your business. It allows you to engage with your customers and take advantage of the most powerful force when marketing on a budget, viral marketing . Share Your Knowledge. If you are passionate about your business, believe you are the best at what you do, or know anything that might be of interest to people, share it. Sharing your knowledge helps to establish yourself as an expert in your field, enhancing your credibility and encouraging conversation with your customers. Bath Soup Company ran a series of YouTube videos championing the local producers that supply the Bath Soup Company Canteen.
Utilise Social Media Social media allows you to create content that can greatly enhance your brand image and generate huge PR for your business. It allows you to engage with your customers and take advantage of the most powerful force when marketing on a budget, viral marketing . Engage your customers in conversation. Your relationship with your customers is essential to establishing brand loyalty and repeat custom. Both Facebook and Twitter are excellent for encouraging conversation with your customers. This allows you to better understand their behaviour and their needs, as well as keeping them up to date with your latest developments, or even just today's “Soup of the Day”.
Don’t forget collateral Good old fashioned marketing you can touch, cheap and effective . Bath Soup Company displayed posters in the local area to reinforce the coverage in the local media. A well placed poster is cheaper than a blanket campaign. Bath Soup Company selected Bath’s Tourist Information office, the city library, local tour buses and large local businesses. Our Story was created to be placed on each table in the Bath Soup Company Canteen. This proved to be a very effective way of bonding with our customers and was extremely popular. Twenty new copies of Our Story had to printed everyday as people took them home to share their experience with their friends and families.
Summary 1. If you run an offline business, you may not think online marketing applies to you. At the very least, the internet can help to make your business more findable. Registering the Bath Soup Company Canteen with Google’s Small Business Centre not only helped customers to find us but also a large number of suppliers with essential deliveries. 2. A combination of offline and online media proved extremely successful when marketing the Bath Soup Company Canteen. Feedback from many of our customers that saw our company offline said this led them online to our website, where they had then made the decision to pay us a visit. 3. While it may not be for everyone, Facebook , Twitter and YouTube have allowed the Bath Soup Company Canteen to achieve great coverage with no money and very little effort . Twitter is especially easy to use, can be set up in minutes and is excellent for accessing your local business network . Despite its origins as a source of entertainment, YouTube is also an extremely powerful tool for your business . Whether directly advertising your company’s products or sharing your industry knowledge , social media websites give people the chance to make that all important personal connection with you and your small business.
Comments I welcome your thoughts, ideas and experiences on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact me! Dominic Povey [email_address]