How To Market Your Small Business On A Shoestring Budget
When you are a start-up business, the prospect of marketing can be overwhelming, especially on a restricted budget. The top third marketing challenge for many companies, according to HubSpot, is the lack of proper resources. Unless you’re a small company with angel capital, you probably have limited promotional greens.
Fortunately, the good news is that marketing doesn’t have to be worth thousands of dollars. For larger brands with big marketing budgets, one or maybe several hundred dollars is just a small drop in the allotment. For young entrepreneurs, however, every cent counts, and investments need to pay off in immediate and real marketing ROI.
How do you know where to start?
Being unable to promote itself is financially risky for any business. Luckily, there are literally hundreds of different methods you can use to boost your overall revenue including marketing via social media and email. Mentioned below is a list of seven cost-effective marketing strategies that can help you market your small brand on a shoestring budget.
- Do your research
All-star teams don’t just study up their own game plan, they also keep a close check on what their competitors are up to, so they can look for opportunities to beat them.
If you spend a good amount of time analyzing your competitors’ strategies to look for their area of weakness in the marketplace, you will discover chances where your services will probably have the best possibility to grow. Going head to head with the ‘big dogs’, on the other hand, will only result in a loss.
According to William Bill of Wealth Design Group LLC in Houston, failure to conduct thorough market research before beginning a business venture is equivalent to ‘driving a car from Texas to New York without a map or street signs’.
A good market research plan will tell you where and who your real customers are, informing you about their willingness and likelihood to purchase your goods and services.
2. Go Guerilla
Guerilla marketing aims to leverage imagination, creativity and most of all, originality in a big budgeted place. Being on a limited budget, small but smart businesses usually use guerilla marketing to compete with huge companies.
There is no shortage of refreshing guerilla marketing concepts. One good example would include organizing a flash mob to garner maximum crowd attention, and promoting awareness of your brand.
The Oscar Meyer wiener-mobile event is perhaps one of the most in-your-face marketing campaigns of all time. A car, shaped as a gigantic hot dog, makes its way across the region, successfully drawing attention from both kids and adults alike as they keenly watch the edible looking vehicle tumble down the roads. Since its launch, complete musical pieces have been written about the wiener-mobile, which has made TV show appearances and movies for almost a decade.
3. Email marketing is magical
With an average return of 38 USD for every 1 dollar spent, email marketing becomes the tried-and-tested channel of true digital marketing. Marketers across the board acknowledge email marketing as a methodology that, regardless of organizational size, produces high returns on marketing dollars invested.
The idea is not only desired, it’s also effective. The marketing professionals at the MarketingProfs.com shared valuable data from a study that found that when it comes to marketing, for at least one third of all consumers, email is the main communication channel preferred.
This excellent piece of email marketing by Boots personalizes communication and shows product offers tailored for the recipient, which in this case is pregnancy supplements.
- Going tech
If you own a company, it is also essential for you to understand and use small business technologies. Technology will not only help expand operations but increase business efficiency as well. An accounting software, for example, allows you to see profits and losses at a glance, alongside designing and maintaining a proper budget for your business.
4. Talking does wonders
For any company, big or small, one of the biggest and most effective ways of generating revenue is interacting with existing clientele. Ideally, the method should be outsourced since talking to someone outside your company will help customers be more honest and open.
Having a Twitter and Facebook account is not enough and you must engage in the conversation by posting regular updates and promptly replying to direct messages from your customers.
The founder and president of S&A's Cherokee, a public relations and marketing firm in Cary, North Carolina, Ron Smith, agrees with the aspect of communicating with your target audience. "Monitoring social media is a must for all companies. Social media has shortened the time frame for company responses to complaints or accusations. These days, companies need to acknowledge any issues and control the messaging in a matter of minutes instead of hours or days," says Smith.
While assessing perceptions, it’s not necessary to talk to hundreds of individuals at once. You can simply choose five to ten clients and contact them to ask if they would like to participate in a short telephone Q/A. Here is how it usually works:
- Send a letter asking for permission to have someone contact them from your company
- Have the interviewer call and ask value-based questions like ‘how aptly have company ABC’s services assisted in solving your challenges?’
- Once all interviews have been conducted, compile the information and discover new trends
- Send a gratitude letter to all participants
The important part here is to use what you learn. In case you plan to keep your business static, you will be wasting everybody’s time.
5. Leveraged relationships
Try spending time developing relationships with people you already follow or know on social media; colleagues, people you meet through networking organizations, friends and even family. This is the lot that feels the most strongly about you and your services, hence, it may become easy for them to advertise your brand on a local level. You may keep them in the loop but they need time and nurturing before they would refer any business your way.
One of the most popular options for building leveraged relationships is Facebook ads. Always remember to list your business in free online directories like Google Business for the company to put you on the marketing map.
6. Contest and giveaways
Who doesn’t love free gifts? Give away fun items to potential customers to gain goodwill and and to build brand awareness.
Things such as white papers, online e-books and checklists don’t cost anything but your time. You can also try promoting your services on Facebook groups where the audience may agree to try your product for free in return for an honest review.
As a free-spirit marketer, you are free to create a viral-promo effect by making your advertising methods interesting and fun. One of the craziest yet attractive marketing campaigns to go viral is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. People dared their family and friends to pour ice-cold water on themselves within 24 hours of the campaign going viral.
7. Build your team up
The main idea behind establishing informal relationships with other businesses is to promote or market cooperatively; proving benefits for small business owners who have yet to build out large contact databases. Working with other prominent business owners whose target markets overlap with yours can help build brand awareness, making your company grow quicker than you would be able to do on your own.
All in all
The seven aforementioned, inexpensive marketing strategies will not only help you build relationships with customers but will ultimately make your brand a priority too. Remember, it’s not always about the big bucks you must spend on marketing. it’s also about adding a bit of consumer-relevance to your efforts as well.