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Moving Beyond Social Media

July 15, 2014 | Written by Matt Beuschlein

6 Effective Ways to Market Your Small Business Beyond Social Media

When it comes to getting the word out about your business in a cost-effective way, social media is generally recognized as king. What that mindset has led to, however, is an absolute supersaturation of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a growing number of additional platforms. If you believe other businesses are overcommitting to social media marketing, you might be curious about exploring alternative options. Some of these tips are geared more toward local ventures, others are more universal - but they can all work if properly executed.

1. Flyers
Flyers are an effective tool, if you know how to distribute them. Avoid simply hanging them on doors - it's a time-consuming process, after which they generally end up in the trash. Instead, set a stack at your fitness center, church, or another neighboring small business that's interested in some reciprocal marketing. This way, your flyers can catch the eyes of passersby, but only the ones interested are going to pick them up - a great cost-minimizing tool.

2. Craigslist
You may not know it, but Craigslist has a section in which you can advertise your business. Look for the "Small Biz Ads" section under "Services." Just be sure to keep your advertisements brief. A concise overview of your business should suffice, along with a link to your website.

3. Friends, Family, and Neighbors
According to consumer research company Nielsen, 92% of people surveyed said they trust personal recommendations over any other type of marketing. Let your friends, neighbors, and family members know about your operation, and get them do some old-fashioned advertising for you.

If your business is service-oriented, offer discounts in exchange for the favor - prepare their taxes, clean their homes, or cut their grass. If you have a new product, give them a free trial. With this tactic you lose no money, and the business they generate may produce revenues for years to come.

4. Exceptional Customer Service
One of the best ways to create buzz for your biz is to provide stellar customer service. Get your team together for a meeting - brainstorm, do some roleplaying, and discuss concrete examples of good (and not so good) customer service. Be sure to follow-up during shifts by observing your team in action and offering counsel or praise as applicable.

5. Socializing More
Socializing more when you're out and about can be a powerful marketing tool for your business. Get a little chattier with the cashier at the convenience store, or when standing in line at your grocer or bank. You never know what type of new business or professional contacts may result.

6. Perks
Consider starting a rewards program, offering a referral bonus, or running giveaways or stellar discounts from time to time. This may cost your business some money up front, but it's all in the service of future revenues - a worthy cause.

If your business is just getting off the ground, be sure to devote at least one hour per day to marketing. This could involve distributing flyers, researching local advertising platforms, or exploring email marketing or direct mail campaigns - it all depends on your particular business. Spend some time off the social media marketing bandwagon and you could end up seeing results for years to come.

What methods besides social media have worked for you?

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