I’ve always adhered to the idea of making my business look bigger than it is. I’m not trying to misrepresent my company, but I know the resources that will give my one-woman shop more gloss and make me appear more professional to potential clients.
Don’t buy into the idea that as a small business, you’re limited to your personal capabilities. Software is getting more affordable. And DIY is “in” right now in a major way. The lines blur between “big” and “small” business when it comes to tools and techniques like these.
Take advantage of what’s available to you right now, and start living large.
Big Business Tactics You Can Use
Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM)
I’m guilty of thinking CRM just works for giant corporations with multiple people accessing the same customer data. I’m also guilty of thinking my small business couldn’t afford it. But plenty of small business CRM programs (such as Insightly ) are reasonably priced, and also cater to the needs of solopreneurs and boutique-sized businesses.
If you have customers, you need to track data about them. That’s what CRM does. I, for example, keep notes when I have phone calls with clients (I’m terrible at remembering what we’ve talked about), and I like linking emails to those conversations, or assigning tasks.
Visual and Audio Marketing
Even if you don’t quite have the budget for TV or radio ads, you can still get your face (or voice) out to the masses. Podcasts  are easy to set up and record, and are hugely popular with the small business segment.
Video’s another great option for the budget-conscious entrepreneur. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to have a professional-grade video produced. Anything from your camera phone to a nice digital camera that shoots video can create commercials, video blogs, or customer interviews you can share on YouTube, your site, and social media.
Project Management Software
Again, I assumed I needed a bigger staff to really benefit from project management software. And while I’m pretty satisfied using Google Calendar to assign tasks for myself, it’s so much easier to assign tasks to others on my team, as well as see the status of what everyone’s working on with the right software.
While I’m not a huge fan of pens with logos on them, you shouldn’t overlook promotional items  as a category. Small businesses typically won’t need tens of thousands of a given item, so you can order smaller products that cost more per unit, but pack a better punch.
Legend has it that once upon a time, when Amazon pretty much sold just books, the company would send little freebies with orders, like branded bookmarks and travel mugs. Those are probably collectors’ items by now. Find something your audience will value, and they’ll actually use.
I’m still surprised at how many small businesses don’t use email marketing, or who are settling for sending text emails directly from their provider, rather than through email marketing software (such as MailChimp , InfusionSoft , Constant Contact , etc.)
With a cost ranging from $0 to under 50 bucks a month, there’s really no excuse for your business not to be marketing through email.
Social Media Monitoring
Sure, your company’s on social media, but are you actively monitoring what’s being said about your brand or your industry?
Don’t let the big social media monitoring brands like Radian6  scare you off. You don’t have to spend a gajillion dollars to track activity on social media. A simple search on the social site of your choice, or a social media platform that lets you save searches for specific keywords , will help you connect to people who are interested in your brand, or who fit the demographic you want to connect with.
Whether your business is big or small, you want to instill confidence in your clients. When you choose to invest in smart marketing and operations tools, your customers will feel good about investing in you.
Big Small Concept  Photo via Shutterstock