In our “Branding Your SME” theme this month, we have explored why branding matters for SMEs and branding mistakes commonly made by SME owners. We also highlighted some tips you can use to start your branding strategy. This time around we will be sharing some low-cost and free branding opportunities that you can take advantage of right now to help you reduce your branding expenses.
1. Get on social media (free)
The major social media platforms — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Pinterest — allow you to create an account for free. Unlike for personal use, however, your business social media account should be used to emphasise your brand message; the things you believe in and aim to accomplish. Pick the top two platforms where your audience hangs out and focus on those.
2. Donate some of your product/service (free)
Offer your product or service at charitable causes or events that you support or believe in. You will be supporting something you believe in and the communities the charities are in while promoting your brand. You can check out a directory of charities across Malaysia that will be grateful for your contribution.
3. Offer free classes or seminars (low-cost/free)
Show your customers that you are an expert in your industry with free classes or seminars. This works online with webinars (which can be done for free or minimal cost) or offline with low-costing classes/seminars. You can even charge people to attend after a while! You do not have to give away your trade secrets for free. Just highlight existing challenges that your product or service solves and how it does it.
4. Consider content marketing (low-cost)
To gain customers, you will need to position yourself and your brand as an expert in your area. Do this by creating content that can help your customers, whether it is webinars and seminars or video content about how to solve the challenges that your product or service promises to.
5. Find online communities (free)
Online communities provide a platform for you to meet like-minded entrepreneurs. In our previous post, we discussed many of the benefits and some Malaysian SME communities
that you can join in today. Whether online or offline, you can easily participate in online forums and communities related to your business area.
6. Industry collaboration (free)
Hanging out in SME communities will expose you to potential customers as well as other businesses that you can collaborate with. These may even be larger companies than yours looking to take advantage of the expertise that you offer. Just ensure that partnerships and collaborators are in line with your brand’s image and what your brand represents to your customers.
7. Open your office (free)
If you spent money on creating a unique office space, showing off that space may help market your brand message. Open it up to community organisations in your industry that need it for events, especially on weekends or after working hours.
8. Offer impressive customer service (free)
Customers may try your product once. But they will come back and tell their friends about your brand if the experience was better than what they can find elsewhere. More than just the initial sale or service, your daily communication with your customers and after-sales service is crucial to building loyal customer relationships.
9. Have a website (low-cost)
It does not have to be an expensive website; just a place that your customers can refer to, and find out more about what you do and represent. These days, many platforms like Instaweb
, Wix and WordPress allow you to cheaply create simple websites even without much experience.
10. Use the resources that you already have (free)
There is nothing more important than what you already have. Check with your employees (if you have) and find out if they can do more than one task, like social media marketing. Even if you are running a one-man show, use your smartphone to create zero-cost marketing videos for social media.
Promote knowledge sharing with our infographic
Want to spread the above ideas for the common good? Feel free to share this infographic with fellow SMEs!
Up next: How does your personal brand impact your business? Think about people like Bill Gates or Elon Musk or the constellation of local business icons. In our next post, we explore why personal branding is important for entrepreneurs and some useful tips to build your own personal brand. Watch this space!
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