One of your most important keys to success as a young entrepreneur is marketing yourself and your business. While online ads may be outside your budget, there are a few things you can do that are inexpensive yet effective. In fact, some of these ideas cost nothing but a little time and energy – and don’t require any special training on your part.
Whether you are starting your enterprise from scratch or looking to reboot a laggy side hustle, use these five tips to get yourself seen and heard. Smart marketing may be just the thing you need to turn your entrepreneurial dreams into a successful reality!
As a young entrepreneur in the 21st century, you already have a major marketing advantage at your fingertips. Older business moguls need to either learn how to use social media or hire professionals to do it for them. You’re one step ahead!
First, get an email address that will be used solely for business purposes. Make it sound professional and make sure it is easy to copy from a business card or flyer.
Now that you have your business email, hit the social media circuit and create new accounts that will stay 100% professional. Take the time to update your feeds regularly; if every day is not possible, then at least every other day. Better yet, schedule social media posts ahead of time so that if you get distracted by an emergency or other life event, you won’t fall behind on your business marketing.
Double-check your content to make sure it is error-free, unique, and interesting. Sites like Grammarly are free and can help you avoid silly typos.
Who doesn’t love getting something for free?
There are several ways to attract potential customers with freebies on your business website or social media:
- Hold contests and giveaways
- Offer free trials
- Give incentives for referrals
These freebies don’t have to cost you a lot. Contest prizes can be a $5 Amazon gift card, or a sample of the product you sell. The point is not a major cash prize; the point is to drive traffic to your website, Instagram, or Facebook page so that potential customers become familiar with your business.
Free trial periods are great for those of you offering a service. By offering your service for a short period of time for free, or whatever fits your business model – you will draw in paying clients. Bonus: you might get some excellent reviews, as well!
As incentives, offer first-time customers something special, such as a 10% off discount code. While you’re at it, offer a referral code to gain more customers, and offer both new customers and whoever referred them something like 10% off their next purchase.
Now is not the time for modesty or shyness. Let your friends and family know that your enterprise is up, running, and ready for business. You’ve got built-in customers in your existing network, so take advantage! Chances are, the people who love you want you to succeed, so don’t be shy. They probably know others who might be interested in what you have to offer.
Young entrepreneurs are surrounded by potential customers: classmates, teachers, teammates, existing clients from other businesses (say, the parents who hire you to babysit or tutor), your parents’ friends and co-workers. That’s a LOT of easy marketing! Word-of-mouth is great, but make sure people know how to find your business online (see below, re: business cards).
HAND OUT BUSINESS CARDS
They’re small, but they say a lot. You can design and print your own for the cost of some Avery blank cards if you have a color printer at home; otherwise, business supply or shipping stores will print for you for a small cost per sheet.
When designing your card, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Font choice
- Information organization
- 1-sided or 2-sided
- Graphic or logo
- White space
- Unique touch
You’ll want your business cards to be memorable but not offensive; contain all your relevant information without being too crowded. Consider using both sides of the card. Use a font that matches your business style. Include a personal touch by using a free graphic from a site such as Pexels. And double, triple, and quadruple check that all the information is correct before printing.
Once you have them, always have a few business cards with you to hand out. Ask your favorite coffee shop if they’ll let you leave a pile of cards by the check-out counter. Give some to your network of friends and family to hand out. Leave them in neighbors’ mailboxes. Let your business cards spread the word!
PARTNER WITH OTHER SMALL BUSINESSES
You already know the value of teamwork, right? Well, think of partnerships as a form of teamwork. The partnership doesn’t have to be official; it can be as simple as an agreement to refer customers to one another.
Say you run a babysitting service, and some of your parent clients also want someone to walk the dog every day. Do you know someone who walks dogs? That’s a potential partnership! Your dog walker friend can also refer you to their clients who need a babysitter for humans. Try offering discounts to those who hire both you and your fellow young entrepreneur: if a family hires both you and the dog walker, they get 10% off each service.
You can also partner with other young entrepreneurs to help support school fundraisers, run contests together, or help each other’s business. If your business is creating websites, and your friend wants to start their own enterprise selling widgets, you can offer to create their widget-selling website for free in exchange for a line about who created the site and a link to your own landing page.
Running a business means taking your marketing skills seriously. Marketing is one of those things that you absolutely need to invest in: your own time, and possibly some of your start-up money. A good marketing strategy will drive business towards you, helping you earn your money back and then some. It’s also your first point of contact with potential clients and customers – so make it count.
Young entrepreneurs in Florida may be eligible for a Kantner Foundation college scholarship. Click here to learn about what we have to offer and how to apply.