Okay, so your small to medium enterprise (SME) has a fantastic idea. You have your business name but what next? You need to get that great idea out to your potential customers and create that need, want and desire so they want to buy your product or service. That part is marketing, which is often thought to be expensive but in this day and age with the growth in digital platforms, there are so many activities you could do to spread your business name with little or no costs. In this article, we will explore a few tried and tested methods to set you on the path to marketing success.

Your Website

Your most important digital tool will be your website, as this could be the first impression you make on a prospective client – think about it as your shop front. Setting up a website doesn’t need to cost the earth if you feel confident with some basic coding you could purchase WordPress Hosting for a few pounds per month and choose a theme for your website which should set you back around £50. It’s worth noting if you do pick this route your theme will need some tweaking before it looks like the demo you see.

Otherwise, if you feel you’d rather call in the experts, a quick search of WordPress developers should set you on the right track. It should cost you no more than £500 for a complete website, depending on its complexity.

Your website should include at least the following:

  • About us – This page really needs to sell you, your business and your product or service and give the background to why you have the product or service to sell. Make sure to add graphics and ask a few friends to read it once you’re done just to make sure they fully understand it.
  • Portfolio – If for example, you’re a freelance designer, instead of making one page of images it might be an idea to separate them into different categories. There are many plugins you can add to your WordPress website to make this simple such as Envira Gallery.
  • Testimonials – As soon as you can, start collecting testimonials, these can be either in words or a video.
  • Contact us – Keep this page simple with a contact us form and details on how else to contact you. Ideally, you need a physical address to help prove authenticity.

Building an Online Presence

The next challenge is to get your website found. You could pay for Google adverts, also known as AdWords but this can get really expensive. Ideally you need to get your website to rank organically, this means Google will rank your website naturally under their adverts, costing nothing but your time, so how do you do this?

  • Write content – You’re the expert in this sector, so share that knowledge. Websites such as AnswerThePublic can help you with content ideas.
  • Resources – Once you start writing content, you’ll soon end up with a small mountain of it. There is the small question of how do you display this on your website. A good example would be to create a resources section or page so that you can feature all of your internal or external website information in one place. That way people who visit your website can view your recommendations and other websites you are affiliated with.
  • Start a blog – Create a blog on your website, these are small articles that encourage conversation. Don’t feel disheartened if you don’t have many people commenting at the beginning as it can take time. These posts should also be posted on your social media channels.
  • YouTube – Depending on your product or service, you may feel videos could work well for your brand. If you do think this is something that would work for you PeoplePerHour is a great place to find video editors. It’s key these videos look professional and portray your brand positively.
  • Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram – A good example is professional services like an accountancy firm. They are likely to update these channels to show they are active but it’s unlikely they will find potential clients through these channels. However for a product, you could build your whole brand through these channels, there is nothing wrong with a little competitive snooping to see what might work for you.

Work for free

The dreaded phrase “work for free” could be a fantastic way to spread the word and to build up those important client testimonials. If you’re offering a service, you could offer a couple of months use for free. If you sell products such as handbags you could send a sample to influential bloggers in return for a link to your website.

Run a Referral Scheme

Once you have a few clients, the next step is to get them to refer your product or service. For a service, this could be a simple voucher for both parties on sign up, or an ongoing discount they both receive off your services.

For products, this could be a scalable and set discount. For example, the refer would receive a 10% off voucher for their first referral, 15% for their second, 20% for their third and so on. However, this will be a set amount of 10% for the person they refer. For online based referral schemes it’s worth testing a few, Mention Me is great for this.

Talk at events

These could be events someone else has organised where you can talk about your product/service or these could be events you organise yourself.

For example, if you’re a mechanic, organise a small event at a local venue to your business on a topic such as a few tips to keeping you safe this winter. You could then use your expertise to discuss a few tips such as;

  • How to start your car in the cold
  • What you should keep in your car incase of an emergency
  • How to check your breaks
  • How to check your tyres

Be sure to bring plenty of business cards and perhaps a few money off vouchers to hand out at the end. Next time those people need a mechanic they are likely to remember your helpful event and will come to you.

James Trowell
Head of Accounting & Tax at |

James Trowell is head of Accounting & Tax at Dolan Accountancy.