You may not have the big budget of a multi-billion dollar corporation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some big marketing for your small business. In fact, there are lots of ways to improve your marketing right now that will cost little to nothing out of pocket.
Stretch your marketing dollars by implementing these techniques right away:
Focus Your Audience. It’s important to know exactly who your audience is so you can focus your efforts just on them.
Although this information is valuable for designing your marketing materials, it’s doubly important if you’re going to be using social or content marketing to promote your company. If you know who your audience is, you can choose more appropriate keywords and zone in on online spaces where those people are more likely to be found. When you concentrate your effort, your spend will drop. Later you can expand to different audiences as your first segment starts to generate income.
Network. There are lots of other businesses just like yours out there trying to market themselves against the crowded backdrop of the Internet.
Find these people and make friends — either by offering to guest blog or by designing a cross-promotion that benefits you both. Guest blogging can turn into a small supplemental income if you establish yourself as an expert in the field. Those cross-promotions are fun for customers if you’re choosing complementary services or products that appeal to your audience and make sense with your marketing. For example, if you make neat umbrellas, you could cross-promote with someone who designs cool rubber boots — it’s a match made in heaven.
Create a Social Experience. Social media is a tough one for many marketers, but that’s because they fail to think of it in the right context.
Social media isn’t in itself a sales vehicle, but it can be a vehicle to create a huge amount of sales and goodwill elsewhere — both are necessary for a small business to thrive. Social media accounts don’t cost you anything, but social media management tools like HootSuite may have a monthly fee if you choose to use them. They key to social media is being social — all the tools in the world won’t do you any good if you’re marketing at your customer base instead of sharing and socializing with them.
Be Ready. Your small budget marketing may take a little longer to gain steam than a billion dollar blast, but eventually customers will come. And you need to be ready. Customers are already wary about the customer service they’ll receive with a vendor — American Express’s 2014 Global Customer Barometer demonstrated an increasing trend of dissatisfaction.
In 2011, it found just 26 percent of customers believed customer service efforts were failing; by 2014, that number was up to 38 percent. The funny thing is that 68 percent of those same customers told American Express they were willing to pay an average of 14 percent more for good service. Service matters and it affects your bottom line. If you don’t have the staff to answer the phone, don’t let it go to voicemail, instead partner with an answering service that can provide you with the same kind of support that big businesses benefit from every day.
There’s plenty of marketing you can do on a small budget, but you have to play it smart. Know your audience, partner up with other businesses, blog your heart out and be ready when those calls do come in so you don’t lose a single one of your hard-earned leads.