How - To

How small business owners can market their businesses

According to Forbes magazine, more than 50 percent of the working population works for a small business. The Small Business Association reports there are almost 28 million small businesses in the United States. Many small businesses are home-based and hundreds get started each month.

Despite their prevalence, only a handful of small businesses survive more than 10 years. Small business owners must learn how to properly market their businesses and garner a larger audience to stay afloat. While there's no set amount a business should devote to advertising and marketing, such expenses should be included in an organization's operational budget.

Small business owners just getting started may want to consider the following tips as they attempt to market their businesses and expand their customer base.

• Create an online presence. A survey from online marketing firm Yodle found that only about half of small businesses have websites. Customers routinely go online to learn more about businesses and make purchases. Customers will visit websites to find directions to brick-and-mortar stores, find store hours and/or learn about the products or services offered by a particular firm. Small business owners should establish an online presence and ensure the site is routinely updated and modernized.

• Sponsor local events. For a relatively small investment, small businesses can get their names out to the public by sponsoring community events. When approached by schools and other organizations, lend your help. Donate a basket of goods or a certificate for services for gift auctions. Work with organizations to donate a portion of sales to a charity or school through a specialized fundraiser. Contact a sports league to see if your company name can be printed on uniforms or used on banners around the field. Not only will this get your name out, but it also will establish a positive image of your company.

• Establish yourself as an 'expert.' Be accessible to journalists and media outlets who may need quotes or insight when writing articles. Local papers and circulars can get your name out to the community and bring in new customers. Being quoted in print helps establish a reputation as being an authority in your field.

• Don't ignore social media. According to Adroit Digital, 75 percent of Americans who use the Internet admit that product information found on social media influences their shopping behavior and enhances brand loyalty. Social media accounts are generally free to set up and require minimal effort to maintain. Social media can help establish and maintain a brand and help you share messages and other content.

Small business owners can enhance their marketing efforts by taking some relatively easy steps to widen their reach and get their names out to the public.

Mankato Free Press