Low-cost marketing tips for small businesses with even smaller budgets
It’s tough out there
Anyone who has ever started a small business knows that before you even sell your first product, you will have sunk your heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears, in addition to all your money into getting it off the ground. Well, after all that, you may not have much left in the bank (or among your supportive groups of family and friends) to run an elaborate marketing campaign worthy of your amazing product.
Since marketing is just as critical as producing whatever it is you are selling, then you need to find a way to do it without it costing you what’s left of your life. So we found some easy, affordable ways to get word out about your business.
- Free stuff
Everybody loves freebies. If you have seen those cakes or cookies that are labeled ‘free sample’ at the grocery store, then you have the concept down. Give away some of your products or offer free services to customers in stores, malls, fares or even just on the street in front of your business. If they love it, you will have instant new customers.
These are by far the cheapest means of marketing available. For example, you may already have a customer base. You can ask them to tell their friends and family about your business and give them incentives like a discount on their next purchase, or a free item.
Apart from customer referrals, industry partner referrals can be really good for your marketing campaign. Build a relationship with a business that is related to your industry but isn’t a direct competitor with you. For example, if you sell wedding gowns, you would partner with a florist. This means that you will have twice the visibility since they will market you as their partner and you have a chance to meet a new audience that would have cost you a lot of money.
The idea here is to make your business so visible that it becomes the first one that comes to mind when someone or an organization needs what you are offering. While attending all the business fares is great, going to your communities events is even better. People will come to know you as a person and what you do and remember to call you because you have made a consistent impression.
- Social Media
If you are a business owner and are not on any social media sites then you must be doing really well…somehow. Create business accounts and get on every social media site there is; from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to Pinterest, Instagram and Google+. Make yourself as visible as possible, get in on trending conversation (but not as a troll!) and always put links to your website on your pages and posts.
When all these referrals finally land on your page or your website, you need to have something meaningful to say to them. Since it’s your business and you know more about it that anyone else, you can create the content yourself. It isn’t all that hard really and you can check out other blogs and articles to see how they are structured.
Fill up your blog with as much creative and relevant content as you can. Have white papers, blog posts, webinars, podcasts, fun videos and all that jazz on your page to attract more visitors, improve your SEO status and possibly increase sales.
Promoting your content is a deliberate action so you need to develop a strategic content promotion plan to make the most of it. For example, you can plan out your social media content calendar to know what you need to release when.
Remember to polish up your content regularly with new information, or just a new way of saying the same thing. It keeps people interest and the traffic to your site up.
People love a fun challenge and it can attract a lot of traffic to your site and business. Create an interesting content with prizes that are cool yet inexpensive. For instance, you can give away branded T-shirts and water bottles rather than trips and dinners which you can’t afford yet. The prizes will also give you some free publicity from the people who wear them.
Most industries have awards for businesses which you can work hard to win. You get an online badge from them that you can put up on your website to boost credibility which in turn will increase visibility and sales. You can contact your local media to cover your win and hopefully even get an interview with them which will certainly increase your visibility.
- Business cards
While a lot of things are online, things like business cards are still useful. There are two ways you can make them a marketing tool. First, your business cards need to be interesting. They should be attractive to the eye and clear enough so that people know what your business is about at a glance. Plus, everyone you meet should go away with one of them.
Alternatively, you could have a business card contest where people come in and drop their business cards in a bowl. At the end of the contest, one person will win a prize but you will have all those cards and people to network with.
- Discounted advertising
While you may not be able to afford Facebook and Google ads, there are times when they have coupons and discounts on offer that can get you the marketing you need at a price you can afford. Your web hosting service may also have advertising discounts that you can take advantage off. Make sure to look out for these.
- Quirky and unconventional
Imagine walking on a pavement and seeing a twitter handle written in chalk, or seeing a big poster on the display window of an abandoned store. Wouldn’t you want to check it out just for curiosity’s sake? Well, the same applies to your potential customers. Think way outside the box with your marketing and you’ll find that you can do quite a bit with next to nothing.
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