Like most attempting to run and manage a business, I’ve had triumphs and failures in marketing my business and building awareness for my product offerings. Much like the Cobbler’s children with no shoes, as a Digital Marketer by occupation, I’ve found that many times my own marketing efforts get placed on the backburner. That’s why I wanted to put together a simple checklist for marketing a micro business. But first, let me speak to the obstacles that a micro business face in their marketing efforts:
- First and foremost, resources are nonexistent. There is no room financial experimentation. Any hit, hurts
- Like many micro businesses, my own is extremely niche. My market is small and therefore, my messaging needs to be pinpoint targeted
- With a single employee, every effort made is my own. This is always taken into consideration when contemplating a new marketing channel
These elements make a micro business unique and marketing effectively and efficiently no easy task.
While I’m using my own micro business CruxSax Chalk Bags, as a basis for this post, the tips below can be adapted for businesses of all sizes as it’s easy to loose touch with the basics as growth occurs. Its important to remember where you started and the fundamentals that got you to where you are today. So with that, let’s look at some ways to efficiently (and frugally) market your business.
Financially, do you have any room for marketing spend? If so, how much can you afford to spend on promoting your business? This can be determined by calculating your raw ROI (without any marketing), then deciding an acceptable ROI, a return you can live with to accommodate marketing spend.
Simple economics will tell you to take the gain from investment (price point of your product) less the cost of your investment (this can be the cost of raw materials + the effort/time spent making the product), divided by the cost of investment. Let’s see this in action with an example:
- I sell my chalkbags for $20 + $5 for shipping
- An average bag costs me $5.50 in raw materials and takes me about 1.5 hours to make.
- Total shipping cost is $3.25 + .5 hours of my time packing, making labels and running errands to the post office.
You have to place a value on your time but for illustration purposes lets say $1/ hr
This would look like this:
In this example I have a raw ROI of 133% – so now ask yourself, what is an acceptable ROI? For me an ROI of 75% is acceptable. This would put my total cost of investment at just about $14.30/ unit sold in order to maintain a ROI of 75%.
Take your total cost of investment ($14.30) and less your raw cost of investment ($10.75). This would mean I can afford about $3.55 in marketing spend for each unit sold. If I sell 2-5 units a month, my monthly marketing budget is somewhere between $7-$18 per month. This may not sound like much but keep in mind that the internet offers many ways to inexpensively market your products and the goal is to be as granular and targeted as possible.
If you have a website, you can do this through PayPal. There is no monthly or set up fee. So how do they make money!? Well, if your monthly sales are less than $3,000 then they charge 2.9% fee per transaction + .30 cents.
If you don’t have time/ ability to create and maintain a website then my preferred option, (if you make handcrafted items or sell vintage finds) is setting up a shop on Etsy. For those who many not be familiar, Etsy is a marketplace where you can buy or sell all things hand-made or vintage. Etsy charges $.20 cents to post a listing and transaction fees are 3.5% of the item price. If you use their direct checkout which gives you the ability to accept credit cards, there is also a processing fee of 3% + .25 cents. Yes, total that’s 6.5% + $.45 cents per item sold but you can off set this by including the fee amount into the item price.
If you don’t already have a separate email account for your business you should obtain one. And why not, it’s free and keeps your personal emails separate from your business emails.
AdWords has been an extremely successful marketing channel for me. As a micro business owner the trick here is to make your ad groups and keyword selection as targeted as possible. The funds aren’t available to target broad keywords that aren’t converting. Be specific, make use of long–tail keywords, which may not have a high search volume but are detailed descriptions of your creations.
Money $aving Tip: Take advantage of Google Reps & their knowledge as it’s unenviable that they’ll contact you after initial set up of an Adwords account. Don’t be afraid to ask for a voucher. They often give these out to new advertisers and it can save you big bucks for a little investment (e.g. spend $25 and get $100 in free advertising).
Announce shop happenings, new creations or product offerings to your social following. Not enough time to manage a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc. etc? That’s ok! Set up your twitter account to additionally post updates on your Facebook. I’d only recommend this tactic if your following on the two networks is different audiences, as it can be repetitive and create a bad experience for your fans.
Don’t have a social following? Well, Facebook ads can be a good place to start. Target by interest, demographic, or target followers of other brands or groups simular to your shop. Sponsored Stories ads are really successful at garnering page likes. You can set a daily budget to run through a determined period of time to manage spend and stay within a pre-determined budget.
NOTE: I do not recommend Facebook ads for conversions or sales- only to increase your social following. Having a social following can though, lead to sales.
Beeswax candles to business consulting, whatever you are selling, you should become a go-to resource for that topic. One way to accomplish this is by starting and regularly updating a blog on your topic. There are so many blog platforms that are free and give you the freedom to customize the look and feel, and add branding. Make sure to optimize your blog for search so people can find it when they are looking for resources on that topic. Don’t forget to add FASS (fast action social sharing buttons) to your blog in order to streamline all your customer touch points. Additionally, regular updates are essential to keep readers coming back. Also, it’s important to mention that your blog shouldn’t be a big call to action, BUY NOW. It should be a resource on the topic and not a place where you necessarily sell and promote your business or products.
Use these tips to accomplish blogging that that will Blow your Readers away!
If you want people take your business seriously and ultimately purchase your products, branding is critical. If you don’t have the design skills to develop a logo, propose a trade of your product to a friend or family member that does. Even something simple that you can add to a tag will give your products a tailored and refined look. Once you have a logo, get a custom stamp made, (there are many inexpensive places online) and use it for your tags. Since many inks are water-soluble, make sure to use a varnish spray to keep the ink from bleeding.
Some of my easiest (and cheapest) sales were obtained through flyers placed in local climbing gyms. Never under estimate the power of a strategically placed printed flyer. I like to include pull-tabs on the bottom so those interested can simply tab a tab with my Etsy shop URL. It also feels great when you check out the flyer and all the pull-tabs are gone (bonus pat on the back).
Having a successful
micro business is no easy task.
They say if you make a good product or offer a valuable service then it will sell it’s self. Well, to be frank that line is crap. You first need to market your business successfully, create awareness and THEN if you make a quality product, you will retain your customers and gain repeat sales.
Small business to enterprise, or any size in between- one thing we can all learn from a micro business is that generally people enjoy encouraging and supporting the passion of a real person. What ever your size- love what you do and be real in your outreach. Give your business a face and remember that above all else, the support of your customers is what fuels your business and inevitably supports your passion.
Please feel free to add your own experiences as a business owner as I look forward to learning about your frustrations and most importantly your successes.