They say you have to spend money to make money, and that’s certainly true of marketing. But if you’ve only got a small budget to market your business, these ideas can help you get the best marketing bang for your limited buck.
1. Content – create, curate, recycle
I don’t think I even need to say this, but it’d be neglectful not to mention the importance of kick-ass content. If you can create it yourself, all the better (isn’t free always better?). Even if writing isn’t your strong point, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting someone on your team to crank out some articles for your blog. Try top 10 lists, tip collections, best practices for your industry, etc. Remember content comes in many forms so try different mediums that engage your audiences (infographics, video, webinar, podcasts, blogs)
And if you can’t CREATE – CURATE! Curating content that others produce is a great way of cross-promoting other businesses that service your customers. Publish with comments on your social media channels or seek permission to link their article on your website or include it in your newsletter. (Be smart; choose content your customers are interested in.)
Don’t forget to also recycle your content. Turn a webinar into a video tutorial. Transform a collection of blog posts into an ebook. Never be afraid to mash-up your old content – chances are there will be a ton of people who never even saw your old stuff, so it’ll be a fresh, 100% new content piece for a large segment of your audience.
2. Ask for referrals
Referrals are one of the top ways to grow your business. Remember, word-of-mouth is powerful stuff, so friends telling friends about your business is incredibly valuable.
Learning how to ask for referrals can exponentially increase the number of referrals you get and therefore dramatically increase your client base.
Don’t be shy about asking for customer referrals. The majority of people say they are willing to provide a referral if asked, but very few take the initiative to do it on their own.
Referrals make it easier to get in the door with new customers. If you aren’t asking for them, you are missing opportunities.
3. Network – in person
Don’t neglect the opportunity to market in person. You’ll meet great people in person whom you may never come across online.
Every person you meet is another marketing possibility. Obviously, you don’t want to go around shoving your business into people’s faces, but as the issue of work comes up in conversation, tell them about it.
Be prepared though, don’t go in without a plan. Learn how to tell prospective customers or clients about what you do. Develop an elevator pitch – rambling or being flustered won’t win you any converts. Research shows the average attention span of an adult is about six to eight seconds. That’s all the time you have to grab someone’s attention.
If you successfully engage them, then you only have a little over a minute to really sell them on your product or service. Invest the time to craft a killer elevator pitch. The return on your investment will pay huge dividends in terms of creating business opportunities.
Then learn the most likely places to find your new clients – and go to those places. Simple.
The down side – networking requires a time commitment and it doesn’t provide instant gratification, but a strong network is one of the greatest assets any business person can have.
4. Create/update a marketing plan
Now this might seem obvious but it isn’t.
Have you even looked at your marketing plan lately? Haul it out. Have a look. Are those marketing objectives still what you’re trying to achieve? Do you have new ones? And what are you doing to achieve them now? At the very least it could be time for a new marketing campaign or it could even be time for an entire marketing makeover.
And if you haven’t got a plan create one and make sure you implement it and measure the results – how do you know if you are being successful if you don’t measure it? Linking your marketing activities to revenue generation is always a good start too!
5. Leverage your community
You don’t have to think big when it comes to your marketing efforts. Think locally. What’s going on in your community?
Sponsor a local junior sporting team, a school event or a 5k charity walk/run. Print bookmarks and leave them at the local library. Get to know your ideal customer and think about how and where they spend their time.
Then search for opportunities to get in front of that customer with your marketing message.
Put together a group of synergistic, non-competitive businesses in your area and agree to cross-promote.
You can use offers, flyers, reciprocal website links, bundled promotions or social media platforms. By collaborating with each other, you can expand your customer base because you’ll be reaching new people. (see number 1)
7. Create buzz
If the idea of writing a Press Release fills you with dread and even if you wrote one you wouldn’t know what to do with it other than post it to your website – take a look at resources such as www.sourcebottle.com..
You can respond to journalist’s queries that are looking for story ideas and resources. Some are small media opportunities, but others are major media outlets that use this service too.
8. Build relationships
It is a lot less expensive to keep a customer than it is to get a new one. That’s why establishing strong relationships with your customer base is crucial. One of the ways you can do that is by keeping in touch with people through email marketing.
Ask customers for their email address when they visit your shop or website. Then, make your communications informative, helpful and professional — something your customers will look forward to receiving.
9. Spring clean
Now this might seem like a strange one but what I mean here is audit your marketing collateral both printed and online. Make sure it is all still relevant and details are correct – like your address and phone numbers.
Google your business and see what comes up, if you rely on local customers make sure you have a Google My Business account. This will make sure your business is not only visible on search, but on Google Maps as well.
Check your social media accounts and ensure your profiles and settings are all still relevant. We often build our social accounts and then start posting but forget to review and update the information pages.
Check review sites as well and ensure that all feedback has been responded to – the good and the bad. Try to take the bad offline. Often I have seen negative reviewers remove their comments after a personal phone call to rectify a problem.
I have left this as my final tip and one that many businesses don’t do well. They have a plan but don’t develop a budget to implement the plan. Or they under budget so they can only afford to implement half the plan.
Whilst marketing doesn’t have to be expensive there are still costs involved so make sure you budget for them and then measure their success to determine your return on investment.
Marketing doesn’t have to break your bank, blow your budget, or cost you thousands of dollars. These ten inexpensive marketing strategies will help you engage customers, build relationships, and ultimately keep your brand top-of-mind. It’s not always about the money you have to spend on marketing, it’s about the time and effort you put into it and above all, the relevance it has for your customers.
Keen to learn more and grow your business through better marketing? Come and join our Marketing Fundamentals course designed for small and medium businesses. The first course starts on 26 February and places are limited.