Free For All (or Cheap for all, at least!)
You can’t do business if you don’t have customers. I know that’s obvious, but I needed an opening statement that would lead to this point; you have to market yourself. Otherwise, people won’t know who you are or what you have to offer. The question becomes,
How do you market yourself without spending a metric crap-ton of money?
(Yes, ‘metric crap-ton’ is a real unit of measurement.) Nobody has that much money, especially when starting or operating a small food business. What you need are some free (or cheap) options.
When I say “free”, what I really mean is that these won’t cost you money; or they at least won’t cost you much of your hard-earned green. However, nothing in life is really free. All of these require time commitment. Serious thought, planning, market considerations, understanding and communicating with your customers – all of these are investments. With a little creativity and education about how all of this can work for you, though, the return on your investment will exceed your efforts. In other words, your work will pay off.
There are a lot of free technologies out there, so I’ve broken them down into a few separate, bite-sized categories to make them easier to consume. I’m writing a post for each category rather than trying to cram all of this information into one monster post that would take you 3 forevers to read. When all posts are complete, I’ll bundle them into a series somewhere on getNOMSblog for easy reference and I’ll link to them all from this post, so go ahead and bookmark this post and check back. Better yet, subscribe to getNOMSblog, so you don’t miss those posts!
4 Ways Small Food Businesses can advertise on a budget include:
SOCIAL MEDIA – If you’re not new to the internet (or the 21st century) then you’re familiar with Social Media. It’s useful for more than sharing cute baby pictures and cat videos, though. When you’re trying to advertise on a budget, Social Media should be your main go-to method.
But Why? Businesses who have engaged Social Media correctly, with some planning and strategy, have seen outstanding results. The best part is that all social media platforms are free for individuals and businesses alike to use.
But it’s hard to learn and use! I hear this from Gen X and older business owners. Stop whining! Running a business ain’t easy. If you can deal with taxes, you can manage social media. Check out my post on this topic (scheduled to post 1.18.18) and I’ll give you some ideas how you can make it work for you. And honestly, it’s not that hard. You just have to get past your fear of learning something new. Believe me, just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean it’s going away or that you can ignore it.
BUSINESS DIRECTORIES – The name says it all; it’s a directory for businesses. Crazy, right? Even though its use has declined significantly over the last few years, almost everyone is familiar with the most old school business directory of all; the Yellow Pages. Today, there are several online business directory and listing sites, making it possible for potential customers to do quick searches for the things they need within specific niches. It’s free or fairly inexpensive to be listed in most online business directories. The catch is making sure all of your business information on those directories is correct. Check out my post on this where I talk about some of the free directories available right now and how you can make sure you manage your presence on them in a way that gets your little breakfast nook’s name in front of hungry customers.SEARCH ENGINES & SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – A search engine is an online tool that lets you, well…. search for stuff. I’m sure you’ve heard of this little company called ‘Google’. In fact, a Google search may be how you found this blog post (unless you’re one of the three people who use Bing)!
Using search engine optimization, or ‘SEO’ as it’s called by tech nerds and bloggers like me, is a way you can give your little meat n’ three down the street a better chance of being found on the various search engines when customers do searches for local places to find good fried chicken. Don’t you want potential customers to find you when they go to Google and type, “Best damn biscuits in NomVille”?! (assuming, of course, that you live in NomVille and do indeed have the best damn biscuits there) There are free and inexpensive ways to use SEO, and we’ll look at some of those ways in my Search Engine and SEO post (set to hit getNOMSblog in late January 2018).WEB SITE & CONTENT MARKETING (not exactly free but you have inexpensive options) – Every business needs a website, right? When you talk about your sandwich shop, that’s what everyone tells you, anyway! I bet you’ve already been thinking about and ringing your hands over this.
But wtf do I know about building a website?! If you’re not a tech head, you may be wondering how in the world you’re going to set up and design a website. A lot of business owners run into this, but it doesn’t have to be that scary. And it doesn’t have to be wildly expensive. We’ll talk about some ways to save money on this important piece of your advertising strategy in my Web Site and Content Marketing post.
What’s this ‘Content Marketing’ business that you’re talking about? I’m glad you asked. This is a way to create and share stuff about your business online that isn’t explicitly meant as advertisement. Think of it less like a commercial and more about an inside look at your business. It’s meant to build interest in your brand without overtly trying to sell something. I know it sounds crazy, but we’ll get into the details in this post, so make sure you check that out. It’s scheduled to release sometime in February 2018.
Looking for More?
Be sure and check out all the posts in this series as I post them over the next couple months. If you’re reading this after they’re all posted, then check out getsNOMSblog. This series will be bundled under one heading in the Business Resources section there. While you’re there, go ahead and sign up for my email list so you’ll receive future small food business tips, stories about food business owners, home cooks and food charities. We love sharing stories about NOMS almost as much as we like sharing the NOMS themselves!
Related Posts for Small Food Business
Social Media Image: Photo by William Iven on Unsplash
Business Directory Image: Photo by Anastasia Zhenina on Unsplash
Search Engine Collage: Photo Mix from Pexels, Photo by Benjamin Dada on Unsplash
Main Post Image: Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash