5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Tough economic times are requiring more and more business owners to find creative ways to get ahead. Lots of people think that during hard times, businesses should scale back — but this is a huge mistake. If you start to scale back on your marketing, your competitors will grab that market share and slowly — or quickly — put you out of business.The essence behind guerrilla marketing (a methodology coined by my mentor, the late Jay Conrad Levinson) is using time, energy, imagination and outside-of-the-box ideas to produce better results. It works in good times and it works in bad times. The key is taking action and putting some time behind the tactic.Here are seven time-tested guerrilla marketing tactics for you to consider for your marketing arsenal.1. Target a specific demographic or nicheOne of the quickest and cheapest ways to get better results is to niche down and get more specific on who you want to reach.Think about it for a second. If you owned a daycare center and were targeting parents within 10 miles of your center, the wide net could bring higher marketing and advertising costs. But if you were to narrow down the radius to five miles and get more specific on the types of parents you wanted — like parents interested in STEM — the audience size gets smaller, your message gets more focused and you can invest less to reach that audience.Related: Understanding the Concept of ‘Niching Down’ for Budding Entrepreneurs2. Create a content-rich blog.Blogs are a great way to get your message out. Not only are they free, but they can also be updated as often or infrequently as you want. Blogs have been around for years now, so people know what it is when they see the word “blog” on their search engine results page.A blog can be used to share your thoughts or explain the steps you took in creating a new product or service. It could also serve as an online journal of sorts — readers could follow along with what is going on behind the scenes at their favorite restaurants and businesses from around town (think “reality tv” for blogging), just to name a few ideas.3. Use social media to connect with prospects.In no way is social media new, but it continues to be one of the best free places to generate interest in your business on a very large stage.The key to leveraging the power of social media is to be different and stand out. What is your unique selling proposition? What sets you apart from the hundreds of other businesses on social media sites like Facebook. What will make people take notice?In order for social media marketing efforts to produce any kind of return, it’s important to execute each post with precision and meaning. There should always be two goals with every post: to engage your audience and drive them towards taking a specific action. Your prospects need to be be led in the right way in order for them to say “yes.”4. Find local influencers for content marketing campaigns.Regardless of the type of business you’re in, there are content curators online across various platforms. They already have the audience you want and are willing to promote your business in exchange for relevant content, a barter arrangement or a small fee.Let’s say you own a restaurant in Orlando, Fla. and you want to deploy this strategy. Check out Facebook, YouTube and Instagram and see who is producing content about Orlando, or better yet, the food in Orlando. Reach out to them and see what they’re willing to do for you and with you. From there you can coordinate on content campaigns. It’s very important for the content to look like native content rather than an ad.5. Join masterminds, groups, or associations related to your business topic or niche market.One of the most valuable things I have ever done for my business is to join mastermind and industry associations. The masterminds put me around like-minded people. We swap “war stories,” look at what’s working or what’s not, and even refer business to each other. On the flip side, associations put me in front of my prospects. For a small investment, I could quickly get in front of their audiences with borrowed credibility.Related: 4 Advantages of Mastermind Groups for Founders6. Get involved in the community by volunteering or donating to causes that are relevant to you.You get out what you put in. Time and money are the two most valuable resources that entrepreneurs have, so it’s important to invest them into causes you believe deeply about. For me, community involvement has led me to meeting a lot of amazing people at various events. I have gone on to do business with some of these individuals, and have even hired people from these encounters.Related: How Growing Businesses Can Prioritize Community Involvement7. Offer freebies or samples.I love attending home shows. In particular, I love the booths and vendors. And what’s one thing that almost every single booth has in common? They have some sort of freebie, sample or giveaway to reel you in. Some even hire professional pitchmen to put on an entire show for crowds of people.Free is the number one word in marketing. Think of all the times you were hooked in by a freebie or a sample and you will want to start using it in your business as well.These are only a few of the guerrilla marketing tactics that cost little money, but can produce results and a return like you’ve never seen before. When deployed correctly, your competitors won’t even know what hit ’em.