Social media changed the marketing game for small businesses.
Have you ever thought about how a small business would market themselves before instagram and facebook?
Here’s some history for you: Instagram was created in 2010. It has been paramount in marketing so many small businesses around the globe, and it was a huge reason for my success with Salam Shop.
But, there’s something that makes me uncomfortable about solely relying on marketing done on “rented land”. When social media algorithms change, or heaven-forbid a new popular app emerges, what do you do? It’s important to be able to adapt to change, but social media should not be the end all and be all of your marketing strategy.
I want to make one point clear: do not, and I mean absolutely do not, build a business on instagram or facebook. You need a website.
In this week’s live, I explored marketing ideas that are NOT social media. Watch the video here and read on for ideas that are tried and tested in the Muslim small business world.
Marketing Ideas that are NOT Social Media
Email marketing is the most effective way to communicate with your audience. If they have signed up to be on your list, it means they like your brand and want to hear from you. So, do me a favour and actually email them! I know more than half of you reading this have never sent an email out to your list. If you learn ONE THING from this blog post, it’s to prioritize your email list and send regular emails.
Here are a few ideas of emails you can send to your list today:
- A welcome email that includes updates from you, the founder, and links to your website and latest products, designs, blogs, etc.
- A coupon code for being a mailing list subscriber that expires in a certain time frame, or applies to certain products.
- A gift with purchase offer for being a mailing list subscriber. For service-based businesses, you could offer “subscriber pricing” for a limited time.
- An offer to an upcoming event you will be vending or speaking at. The offer could be a discounted ticket, a coupon to your products, or a meet’n’greet time.
Collaborating is one of my favorite things to promote in the Muslim business world. We are all so much more effective as a whole, than as individuals. Collaboration is often started on social media (instagram friends) but there’s no limit to where it can take you!
Here are some collaboration ideas that lead to effective cross promotion and marketing:
- Run a local event together that promotes both of your businesses, or even a handful of businesses (think: Ramadan, Eid, or even “off-season” events to boost sales)
- Write a blog for someone else’s platform that is relevant to their audience, but also showcases a snippet of who you are and what you do. I write regularly for Living Halal here.
- Send a note about one another’s product or upcoming event to your mailing list.
- Try out each other’s products or services and provide feedback in the form of an honest “audit”.
Keep in mind that not everyone is open to collaborating.
Also, always try to offer a fair exchange in a collaboration. For example, if you are launching new decor items for Ramadan, a home decor blogger that is fairly new at blogging may be interested in getting your items for free in exchange for writing a blog or sharing it with her mailing list. A seasoned blogger, however, would be better suited to collaborate with a well known decor brand (that will also boost her brand) or would expect to be paid from a new brand launch.
My pet peeve in the Muslim business world is when people don’t offer a fair exchange. Being fair is part of our deen. Don’t undercut your brothers and sisters in Islam by being unfair in business dealings, and don’t use brotherhood or sisterhood as a means for it.
Networking & Local Business Groups
Whether you’re an introvert, or an extrovert, networking and talking to people will get you far. Look for networking events and local business groups on facebook.
Remember to be yourself and be prepared.
- Don’t act like you run a multimillion dollar business. Even if you do. Be humble and kind.
- Wear what you’re comfortable in.
- Interact the way you would typically interact in meetings.
- Research who will be at the event and choose 3 people who you must meet. When you introduce yourself to them, let them know you are interested in learning more about “x, y, z” that they are working on. I can’t tell you HOW EFFECTIVE this is in getting the attention of someone.
- Bring business cards. At the very least, get their business card and follow up.
- Have an elevator pitch prepared. Keep it short and interesting.
My last piece of advice for networking is to keep your time with each individual SHORT. The most frustrating occurrence is when there are other people waiting to talk to the same person, or the person you are talking to wants to meet others, and you are holding them up.
If you are caught in the situation where someone is holding you up, kindly let them know that you enjoyed speaking to them but really wanted to meet (name) so you have to run. Let them know they can send you an email to continue chatting.
This article by Forbes covers why having a website is so important for small businesses.
My advice to you is this, spend the time you are currently investing in posting on social media to build a website that gives your business legitimacy. Do not build a business on a platform like Facebook or Instagram.
Face to face contact is priceless in the small business world. Long before Salam Shop, I was frequenting events and shows and conferences and shops to get my name out there and become a familiar face in the Muslim small business world.
There are a number of Islamic events out there, so how do you know which one is right for you? I always start with my intention: is it sales, brand recognition, collecting feedback, or experience in vending/speaking? For each of these intentions, I look for different things:
- Sales: how many people does the event typically attract? What percent of those people are my target audience? Will people be willing to spend at this event or are they there for a different purpose (ie: lectures, classes).
- Brand Recognition: what is the marketing like for this event so far? Are people aware it’s happening? Do they advertise the brands participating? Do they have a big platform?
- Collecting Feedback: will my past customers be at this event? Will there be enough time to chat with customers when they’re at my booth or will it be rushed?
Finally, I never participate in an event unless I have spoken to at least 1 vendor who has been there in the past. I want to know if the event was organized, and if it fulfilled whatever intention I have. If not, I will ask one or two more people. If the message is consistent, it’s either a no from me.
Participating in events is a big investment of time and money so I don’t ever recommend doing an event just for the sake of it.
There are several ways to participate in content marketing, but I’m going to focus on blogs, videos and podcasts. All of these methods can be undertaken independently as a business or by collaborating with other businesses.
Content marketing helps connect your audience with your brand on a deeper level. Think about the blogs and videos your target market likes to read or watch. Is it a top 5 favourites list, a “get ready with me” video, a review of a hot new product, or a behind the scenes look at “a day in the life” of your business?
Here are some content marketing ideas:
- Ask to be a guest on your friend’s podcast, or go out on a limb and email your favourite podcast and ask to be a guest. Make sure you pitch an incredible idea.
- Write a blog for another brand that applies to both your target markets. Here is one I did for Haute Hijab a few months ago that helped me grow my Muslim Mom Tribe by 100s of members.
- Go live on facebook every week to showcase your products, talk about an upcoming event, or share something relevant.
The first thing that comes to mind are those flyers stuck in your windshield wipers after jumah. I can’t say I’ve never done that (whoops!) but I don’t recommend it because it’s a waste of money and paper and kind of annoying. Here are better ideas:
- A discount coupon or code given to customers for their next purchase. Postcard size is perfect for this. Make it clear on the postcard that they can share the code with a friend, too!
- A dua or islamic reminder that is frame-able (and branded).
- Anything that will make your shipped packages more “instagrammable” – a branded sticker, a handwritten note, etc. Remember, everything is an experience these days!
If this article was helpful to you, please pin any of the images in this post or share it with your friends! Happy marketing!