5 Cost-Effective Marketing Hints for Small Businesses
If you work hard, and provide value, your business will succeed, or so goes conventional wisdom. But you can work hard only if you have clients.
How to market your business on a shoestring budget? A startup costs money. There is rent for the office, salary for staff and of course the cost of developing products and services.
With hardly a dime left over and struggling to break even, how do you develop a marketing strategy that works?
What Is Marketing?
Marketing is communication with possible customers. If you have a viable product or service, it is not enough. You have to be able to get the word out.
Marketing is the sum total of all the steps you take to increase your sales. It ranges from packaging to publicity.
However, we are going to focus on the latter as packaging and pricing are internal decisions. Publicity is the science and art of making your brand well known. It is not mere broadcasting — then all one had to do was hire dozens of billboards. Publicity is also the subtle task of convincing the customer that they need your product.
To make life easier, we have put together the best marketing tips for small businesses.
5 Inexpensive Marketing Tips for Small Businesses
1. Create Topnotch Content
Content is the easiest way to attract customers. It comprises both text (long-form content) and audio-visual (YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook).
There is much that you can achieve with content that cannot be done through traditional advertising. Introducing the client to how your business works, the process of product development, and the inside story of your production facility is a fantastic way to bring them closer to your brand.
The biggest factor is that good content makes the customer feel more at ease with your brand. At one time, a few decades ago, a brand meant a logo — think of the Ford badge or the Nike swoosh.
That is no longer the case. Customers, especially millennials, want to know more about the brand and associate with it. Content is the only suitable way to achieve that end.
- Relatively cheap to develop compared to other forms of advertising.
- Requires far less investment of resources and is an ideal solution for small businesses.
- Can be entirely outsourced to an external agency.
- Can be repurposed and used in a different context with only minor changes.
2. Use Social Media
The introduction of social media has changed the business marketing landscape. It provides a voice to everybody almost free of cost. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Linked In, Reddit — there are at least a dozen channels, each with its unique flavor.
There are 2.8 billion people on Facebook and 2.3 billion on YouTube. If you want, you can hold a live Q&A session, and Facebook or YouTube won’t charge a dime for broadcasting it worldwide.
You could also have a profile page or channel and regularly publish offers, discounts, new product lines. Besides, you can hold a conversation with your customers — one to one or as a group, receive feedback, and engage in reputation management.
On top of all this, reach out to potential new customers, and ensure that your brand enjoys high visibility for quite a small investment.
The average user spends 145 minutes daily on social media. Over 90% of millennials and 75% of Gen-Xers are active users of social media.
This is why 70% of marketers use Facebook advertisements.
- The enormous reach and low cost provide ROI that is unparalleled.
- You could advertise to the exact demographic and not waste precious marketing dollars.
- You could make your page more visible with paid promotion.
- Several social media platforms act as a rudimentary CRM and can be integrated with chatbots.
3. Email Marketing
Email continues to enjoy a huge success rate despite being the oldest among digital marketing tactics. In fact, among B2B marketers, 82% use it, and that drops only slightly to 77% among B2C marketers.
The campaign has two parts — one is creating an email that is compelling, and the second is curating a list.
Tools such as Mailshake, BuzzStream, and Ninja Outreach are complete all-in-one email marketing solutions that have excellent templates and completely automated sending mechanisms.
An ideal solution for small business marketing, they allow you to keep track of the contact list, type of email (introduction or follow-up), and prospects.
Crafting a suitable subject line and persuading the customer in about a hundred words is the cornerstone of effective email marketing.
- It is the most inexpensive form of marketing.
- Easy to set up and track using low-cost tools. You could put together an entire campaign in an afternoon.
- Excellent data reporting lets you understand the type of content preferred.
- Scalable and can provide adequate support when you grow your business.
4. Create Website
This might sound counterintuitive to many, but you would be surprised how many put off this most elementary among marketing ideas.
A website is your footprint, toehold (call it what you will) in the digital domain.
You can broadcast about your product without spending a dime (apart from that spent on creating the site).
You could host a blog on your site. This allows two benefits — it allows search engine optimization and lets you share your domain knowledge with customers through interesting content.
More importantly, you could share contact information, office hours, receive customer care emails, set up a chatbot for sales inquiries, and probably do a million different things.
Being available 24×7 to customers is important, and a website does just that. It acts as an information exchange and your own billboard in cyberspace.
- It is a professional medium of interaction with clients. Social Media is indispensable but happens on a third-party platform.
- You could use it to collect email addresses with consent to send mails for promotion and information.
- It provides you a unique opportunity to tell the story behind the brand.
- Since a website sends cookies to browsers. You can understand who visits your site and from where. This makes it possible to fine-tune other marketing activities.
5. Guest Posting
If you have never heard about it, guest blogging is a very suitable means of outreach.
What does it mean? Essentially that you write content for a reputed blog in your industry or field.
What does it do? It establishes you as a leading expert in the field. If you can demonstrate that you are well informed, it goes a long way to make your brand dominant.
Moreover, you get to expand your network and interact with others in your field. Knowledge is key to growth, and no one can grow it in isolation. Networking enables you to carry on a conversation, and guest blogging has the keys to it.
- You improve your authority and establish yourself as an expert.
- It brings you customers and generates leads.
- Guest blogging is essential for the SEO process, which in itself is essential for marketing.
- Establishes you as an influencer.
Do What Suits You…
All of the above are not for every business. Neither are we asking you to implement all at the same time.
However, over a period of a year, you should be able to put all of them into place and reap benefits from increased sales. Though these are basic steps, they continue to remain important as your business grows.
About the author
Lesley Haught is a professional writer, web developer, and CEO of webbuildersguide.com. For nine years, Lesley has been working as a web interface developer, which has allowed him to strengthen his experience and skills in website development. Also, he’s fond of photography, marketing, and of course, writing articles. His works have been published in popular online magazines and blogs, including 2CheckOut Blog, 3Dcart Blog, Template Monster Blog, Contrastly, Hackread, Hacked, Wploop, and many others. Find him on Linkedin and Facebook