IT’S no secret that we now live in a world-gone-digital. Everything from grocery shopping to business meetings have moved online. While this has allowed many of us to stay home and keep safe, it has also devastated the SME (small and medium enterprise) sector and caused many businesses to shut down. For those that have survived thus far, it seems that going digital is the only feasible path forward.
But how can small businesses owners even begin to navigate this new digital world? The good news is that you don’t need to spend thousands on Facebook ads or hours creating social media content to start building an online presence. Here are three free ways to start marketing your business and getting customers online.
1. Help your customers find you.
One of the first things you should do when creating your online presence is to help customers find you and there’s no better place to start than on Google – the world’s number one search engine.
Let people know that your business exists by registering it on Google My Business. Registering is free and gives you a lot of perks, including having your business highlighted on Google Maps and Google Search. Over 90 percent of people worldwide turn to Google when they need something and you’d be surprised at how powerful it can be to simply show up in the search results when a customer is ready to make a purchase.
It can take a few weeks for Google to approve your registration, but once it has been set up, you will be able to enjoy free low-maintenance advertising indefinitely. You can even go a step further and visit https://grow.google.com to learn more ways to engage your customers and improve your digital marketing knowledge for free.
2. Unlock the magic of Facebook groups.
Posting on your business page or personal timeline is a great way to promote to your personal network but sometimes that just isn’t enough. If you find yourself in this situation, try engaging with more people through Facebook groups. This opens the door to an entirely new set of potential customers who probably didn’t know about your business before.
Starting out is easy. Just go to Facebook and type something into the search bar! If you have an auto mechanic shop, look for car enthusiast groups. If you sell baking supplies, look for home baker groups. If you distribute office supplies, look for wholesaler groups. There is literally a group for everything under the sun!
The trick is to find groups with a lot of members who are actively engaging with one another. You can easily gauge the group quality by looking at the number of members and new posts per day before joining. This should appear under the group name on Facebook’s search results.
To get the most out of the groups you join, try creating a conversation with other members rather than just selling to them. If you want to post something on the group, focus on why your products or services will be beneficial to the members. You can also try asking questions and getting their feedback on what you are offering. Look out for other posts on the group and make sure to interact when you see an opportunity for your products or services to help someone else. Like doing business the old-fashioned way, it’s all about being genuine and building relationships.
Lastly, make sure you follow the group rules as you interact with people because if you find a good group, you don’t want to ruin it for yourself by getting kicked out!
3. Join an online marketplace.
While Facebook is a great place for small businesses to start, it barely scratches the surface of what’s available on the internet. Entire industries have had to move online due to the pandemic, so it’s only natural that online marketplaces have been growing like crazy, too!
You’re probably already familiar with the two biggest online marketplaces in the Philippines, Shopee and Lazada, but did you know that they can be helpful even for businesses that don’t sell physical goods to retail customers?
Both Shopee and Lazada allow sellers to set up wholesale pricing, which opens your business to bulk buyers from all over the country. The two marketplaces also allow selling of digital goods, which can be redeemed online or in-person. For example, if you own a gym or spa, you can sell digital coupons with flexible redemption dates to get more customers to come in. You can even offer coupons for home services if location is an issue for your customers. Creating a seller account on Shopee or Lazada are both free and you can learn more about their policies on selling digital goods at Shopee Digital Goods Policy and Lazada Digital Goods Policy.
If you don’t want to go with Shopee or Lazada or if they aren’t getting you the kinds of customers you need, try signing up for other online marketplaces that specialize in your line of business. Tons of them have been popping up in the past year and you’re very likely to find one that suits your needs with a quick Google search.
These are just three out of thousands of ways you can build your presence and find new customers online but we all have to start somewhere, right? Change can be intimidating and stressful, so just try not to overthink things and take it one step at a time.
Belli Caballeros is the digital marketing manager at First Circle. She has been helping digital-first brands grow their business since 2014 and she is passionate about improving the financial outlook of everyday Filipinos.