We all know that starting and running a small business is no mean feat and with budgets being tight – one of the areas that always seems to take a hit is marketing. We all know however that marketing is an essential component to the success of any business venture and should always be factored in – no matter how small the budget. Here are some marketing tactics you can make use of that won’t blow your budget, but will ensure that your business has a marketing presence.
- Create and Publish Great Content. Content is something that everyone is looking for and if you can provide great content on your industry, it will go a long way to getting your business recognised in its field. If you are not a great writer, find out if someone on your team is and get going with creating some awesome articles that you can put up on your blog (or even get published). Things that work well are top 10 lists, tips and best practices for your industry. The more content you have out there, the better.
- Create Instructional Videos. Video content is really valuable and does not need to be hugely expensive. The advent of the smartphone means that anyone can create a great quality video. Visual aids are sought after, and if you have some good tips to share on using your product or service, this can be a very good way of getting your company out there.
If video sounds like too much of a challenge, try making slide presentations and sharing them on SlideShare.
- Look for great deals. Although a massive ad campaign is probably out of your budget, there are often discounts and coupons floating around for paid Facebook ads or Google ads. Some web hosting services also offer advertising discount codes as part of their offerings.
- Be a Social Networker. Social Networks offer an efficient and cheap way to market your business. To ensure that you are making the most of these opportunities, create business accounts and participate in as many of the big social network sites as possible – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Add Instagram in there too if your business is image-oriented.
- DIY Infographics. Infographics are insanely powerful marketing tools. They’re visual eye candy, they’re easy to digest, and people love to share them, so they’re a great way to drive up referral traffic and links. Hiring a designer to make you a really great infographic can be costly, but you can make your own on the cheap if you don’t mind a bit of a challenge.
- Give New Life to Old Information. If you’re in a dry spell, instead of making something new, breathe new life into something that already exists on the web. There are a ton of data studies and stats available on the Internet. Find a study that relates to your industry and polish it up. Highlight the most important or interesting parts of the study, add images, crank out some charts, and make your own thoughts and predictions based on the data.
- Make use of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a major social media site that is often under-utilised. Don’t just add network connections and sign out – join groups, enter into dialogue with connections, and share your blog posts. There’s a ton happening on LinkedIn, and it can be a great place to promote your content, share ideas, and build your brand.
- Recycle Your Content. Just as you can repurpose existing data studies, you can rehash your old content into new creations as well! Turn a webinar into a video tutorial. Transform a collection of blog posts into an e-book. 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.
- Come up with a Customer Referral Program. Offer existing customers a free product, free month of service, or some other reward for referring new customers. Remember, word-of-mouth is powerful stuff, so friends telling friends about your business is incredibly valuable.
- Online Competitions. Obviously for this you will need to come up with something for a prize, but the number of participants and new potential leads you get will be well worth the price.
- Industry Partnerships. Team up with a business related to your industry (but not a direct competitor) for a joint project. This can be done locally offline through some kind of special event, or online with a webinar or promotional giveaway.
Partnering with another business means twice as much notice. If you’re partnering with an industry-relevant business, you’re getting introduced to a whole new audience related to your niche. People pay big money for that kind of access!
- Get Involved in Business Awards. Most industries have business awards you can win, providing you with an online badge you can place on your website. Badges like these can boost credibility, and as a result, increase sales.
If there aren’t any awards for your industry, you can always look at hosting your own. You’ll get a ton of attention from other industry businesses that want to apply for your award, which means even more connections and more possible future collaborations.
- Good Old Business Cards. Get yourself some great business cards, then give them to every person you meet. Every handshake should come with a business card. The more people who find out about your business, the better – even if it’s just a quick glance at a business card, this old fashioned marketing tool is still a strong one.
- Guerilla Marketing. Guerilla marketing emphasises creativity over budget, and strategies are often cheap and easy to implement, especially when localised. There’s a ton of room for invention here, and you don’t need a big budget to be successful.
- Host an Event or Class. Plan an event or class to host, then print out flyers and post them on community bulletin boards (libraries, coffee shops, local colleges and community halls). While most community bulletin boards won’t let you post business advertisements, they’re often more than happy to post information promoting an educational event or class.
- Business Card Draws. Put a fishbowl at your place of business with a sign asking visitors to drop their business cards in for a chance to win something from you, this is a great way to grow your database with up to date information. Use the email addresses provided to let users know that while they haven’t won this time, they are more than welcome to join your mailing list, which will notify them of future giveaways and special offers.
- Email Marketing. Email marketing is a great way to get new visitors engaged with your business, as well as maintain relationships with your existing customers.
- Car Magnets for the Company Car. Slap a magnetic sign on your company car to build brand awareness as you drive around town (just be sure to obey traffic laws). Bumper stickers and window decals work as well!
- Do Good Things. Get involved in local charities and causes that mean something to your business. Not only will this get you noticed in your community, but also it is good for team-building and general morale.
These are just some cost effective ways of marketing your small business. Remember that we all have to start somewhere and your small budget will grow as your business grows. Just don’t make the mistake of not marketing your business at all, as this fundamental element of your business is crucial to its success. Make 2016 your year.