When the budget is tight, marketing is one of the expenses that get sacrificed. It always seems like an easy decision. “Well, marketing doesn’t have any direct positive impact on the business’ finances, so why not?”
What many small business owners and marketers don’t know, however, is that marketing is the nucleus of any brand. The chaotic world of commerce pays attention to the tiniest of details, and scrapping your marketing strategy could be the end of your business. Here’s how to go about effective marketing without breaking the bank:
Social media is one of the cheapest marketing ideas for startups and small businesses anywhere in the world. Finding your audience in one place with fewer than 3 billion people on social networking sites has never been easier.
Get the most out of social media by:
- Creating informative but straightforward profiles
- Posting engaging content
- Posting regularly
- Engaging your customers in comments and messages
- Placing links in your posts
- Avoiding direct promotional language
- Using paid ads to reach new audiences
- Develop an email marketing campaign.
Email marketing is quite effective in reaching new leads. Like social media marketing, its most significant upside is cost-effectiveness, with mass emails costing almost nothing to send. The method is also undemanding, at least compared to other digital marketing techniques, and doesn’t need a team of individuals to execute.
All you need is to understand your audience and have an email marketing platform to help you track your messages and gauge the effectiveness of your strategy.
To start, create an email list by getting your customers to subscribe to your newsletter and other important business updates. Many brands will have sign-up forms placed directly in their webpages and on their social media posts. You can complement your email efforts with SMS, by using an email to SMS platform.
It’s crucial to be strategic about the number of emails you send and when to send them. You don’t want to inundate your clients with emails, but at the same time, you don’t want them to forget you.
Getting people to follow you on social media is often easier said than done. Building a following doesn’t have to follow the same old route of creating content and hoping people notice you. You can elicit interest by running a paid ad where you ask users to follow your Facebook page or Twitter handle to win a free product.
Sometimes, people don’t know what they were missing until they have it, so there’s a chance some of those new followers will transform into leads and use your service.
Invest in large format print
Large format print has been used in branding, advertisement, decor, and signs for decades. Its effectiveness has mostly remained intact, but its cost has been on a steady decline, thanks to the constant change in printing methods over the years.
One reason oversized print has managed to stand the test of time is that it provides visibility. Large format signs such as the ones offered here can make your business noticeable and make prospects remember your brand for all the right reasons.
Depending on where you place your banner or ad board, even customers who had no plans of doing business with you will remember your name when they eventually require your product or service. The image will get stuck in people’s heads as they pass by your banner each day, and your company will earn exposure and referrals free of charge.
Attend networking events
Building relationships online is vital in today’s digital world, but the power of conventional face-to-face networking can’t be underplayed.
Contrary to popular notion, you don’t have to look at those expensive, membership-only groups to earn connections. Small and less costly events exist that are equally effective in growing brand reputation, finding new opportunities, and building relationships.
Create business cards
Business cards are considered a negligible tool in the modern marketer’s arsenal, but they are still extremely popular and effective. One of their main strengths is that they are physical, and can be held and shared without the need for a smartphone or a computer.
Business cards stand out as a hard-wearing way to pass short messages in an era that relies heavily on digital channels and can be deleted without even being read.
That said, just because business cards haven’t gone out of style doesn’t mean you can create anything and stuff copies of it in your pocket—the design and general aesthetics front matters when it comes to first impressions. According to Statistic Brain, prospects are ten times more likely to hold on to a colorful business card than a standard white one.
Another survey shows that more than 70 percent of people use business card quality to judge the brand or company a person works for.
Hire personable employees
The spirit, attitude, and energy in which you handle customers are of great significance when it comes to business-customer relationships. Staying enthusiastic and positive regardless of your mood portrays you as friendly and can help strengthen the bond between you and your new customers.
When employees are friendly and willing to help, customers feel free to ask questions, make suggestions, and even share jokes with you – something that will undoubtedly strengthen the bond between the two of you.
When hiring employees, make sure that your recruits are trained, qualified, personable, and possess the right attitude for the job.
Try guest blogging
Guest blogging involves writing for other ideal, more reputable blogs within your niche, and placing links directing readers to your website. This method is extremely useful in reaching new audiences and will cost you little to nothing at all, depending on how you choose the blogs.
The first step in guest blogging is to find those reputable sites and seeking permission to write for them. You can either pitch an article suggestion to the editor in your initial email or send them a written article ready for publishing.
The former option is more recommendable as it saves you time in case your request is rejected. It also allows the editor to provide you with the blog’s editorial requirements and suggest topic changes, if necessary.
Make sure you conduct in-depth scrutiny of the blog you wish to write for before pitching the editor. This is to ensure you understand the blog’s editorial standards and its audience and to identify topics that haven’t been covered yet.
Apply for awards
Many organizations offer niche-specific awards that businesses of all sizes can apply for if they meet specific criteria. Just being in the nomination list of these awards can give your small business the exposure it needs to grow since most of the awarding organizations are established and trusted.
These organizations will often share information about your brand on their websites, social media posts, and advertisements, portraying you as a reputable brand worth checking out.
If you’re lucky to emerge the winner of any one category, there are many ways you can use the accolade as a marketing tool. Here are a few:
- Write a blog/press release about it.
- Share the news on your website and social media channels.
- If the accolade comes with a badge, place the badge on your website’s landing pages.
Note that most awarding organizations don’t charge anything, and all the exposure will come for free.
Ask for referrals
There’s no shame in asking for referrals and reviews from your customers. The technique is cheap and gives you the chance to get honest opinions from the people who really know your business. The leads you get are also likely to be of high quality as people trust their friends and relatives more than marketing agents.
One of the best ways to get more customer referrals is to start a referral program. How you structure it is entirely up to you, though you’ll need to provide your customers with value if you want them to participate. Techniques to achieve this include:
- Offering discounts to customers who reach certain referral targets
- Rewarding customers with gifts and free products after meeting set targets
- Creating giveaways for customers that refer your business to the largest number of new customers.
Partner with local businesses
If your business serves a specific locality, you can team up with local entrepreneurs to create joint marketing campaigns or simply cross-promote each other.
When choosing businesses, avoid direct competitors, and go for ones that complement your service or product. You may also consider partnering with non-profits for more exposure within your locality.
Partnering with other businesses exposes you to their audience and gives them access to yours.
Marketing can use up a large portion of your budget if you run a small business trying to find its feet in the industry. The above marketing tips can come in handy if you’re looking for inexpensive yet highly effective ideas to include in your marketing strategy.