The internet has made it easier than ever to set up your own business. The number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) skyrocketed over the last two decades and there are fresh online brands coming online every day.
While the number of companies with employees has remained fairly constant at just over 1 million (in the UK), those that are operated by their owner with no other employees has nearly doubled in the last 20 years. Over the same period, the number of “large businesses” only grew by 7%.
With millions of firms operating, it’s never been more important to make your business stand out among competitors. If you’re operating on the internet, there are plenty of ways you can do this. Here are some of the best.
Use Freebies, Free Trials and Giveaways to Attract New Customers
People love getting stuff for free, which is why free trials can attract the attention of many people who may not have otherwise paid attention to your business. There are many great ways in which you can offer free products or services, though it’s important to plan how you do it.
Free sample products are great if you’re selling a physical product and you’re confident that the quality of what you’re offering is top-notch or you’re selling something new that many people haven’t used before. You can see examples of this online with companies like The Perfume Shop that let you give away free samples online and let you try out new fragrances before you buy a full bottle.
If you sell a service, then offering a free trial or access to bonuses can help you to demonstrate the value of what you’re offering to potential customers. The iGaming company PokerStars does this with its free-to-play site and app, letting customers take part in games and tournaments without spending real money. Some use it just to play for fun, while others do it to practice before they begin playing for cash.
The accounting software house Sage offers its clients a pretty neat free trial as well. The company lets businesses try out its cloud-based software packages before committing to spending any money. In Sage’s case, the risk of people abusing the trial is low, since companies need to use accounting software on an on-going basis.
Turn Your Customers Into Ambassadors
Multiple studies have shown that the vast majority of consumers actively seek out and read online reviews before they make a purchase, particularly when they’re buying from brands they’ve not used before. Around 8 in 10 consumers trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation from a friend, demonstrating just how important they are.
Therefore, it’s vital that you can turn your customers into advocates and ambassadors for your business, leaving reviews on sites like Google Business, Facebook, Yelp and Trustpilot. Besides offering your clients a great service, you can nudge them to leave a review by sending them an email, including a card in a parcel, or linking to your profiles from your website.
You may also want to go further by creating case studies that go into more detail about how your product or service helped a customer solve a problem. This could be anything from assisting care home residents in understanding the difference between day and night to managing a multi-billion pound infrastructure project in a capital city.
These types of case studies can help demonstrate your value to other customers who may have similar problems.
Show Off Your Knowledge
No one knows your industry better than you. You live and breathe your business, spending most of your waking hours working in and on it every day. That puts you in the unique position of being an expert in your field, even if you don’t yet realise it.
You’ll spend your day answering questions from your customers, and you’ll likely find that you’re asked the same things over and over again.
You can put your knowledge to good use by creating marketing material that can help answer questions your customers may have at different stages of the buying process.
This could be in the form of a whitepaper, an ebook, an educational video, or a series of blog posts that provide genuinely useful information that will help your customers. By making this available for free on your website and social media accounts, the information can be found in search engines and shared by other people.
That way, when potential customers are asking Google the questions you know the answers to, your website will be the place they come to.
You can see a great example of this from the mattress company Casper, which publishes “sleep resources” on its website. Meanwhile, the financial tracking service Mint.com publishes articles and tools on how to improve your finances. No matter what your business does, you can use these marketing tricks to find new customers.