One of the biggest marketing challenges for small businesses is dealing with little to no budget for it.
Unless you have an investor or a healthy chunk of cash saved up, you’ll probably struggle when it comes to finding the resources for marketing.
But unless you market your business and offering, no one will buy it. So, how can you still market on a tight budget?
The good news is that you don’t need to use traditional, costly methods of marketing (which are a nightmare to track and measure anyway) – there are so many innovative and cost-effective ways to market today.
Here are 10 ways to effectively market your business on a shoestring budget.
Some of the most successful marketing campaigns of all time have been done on a tiny budget, with bucket loads of creativity and originality winning out over money. Even businesses who have an unlimited budget have effectively used guerilla marketing campaigns to market their new products or services.
Because it captures people’s attention.
A few ideas include creating beautiful wall art or even organising a flash mob. This is the time to be creative and think outside the box.
Leverage Your Community
If you run a local business, then start thinking smaller when it comes to marketing. What can you do in your local community to increase awareness of your business?
Get out and about and speak to local business owners, and find out what’s going on in the coming 6 months. Maybe there’s a charity walk or run you can sponsor. If you’re in the food or drink business, how about setting up a food stall at a kid’s soccer match?
If you think carefully, there are limitless ways you can get in front of your ideal customer.
Existing and potential new customers love valuable content. Whether you want to start a blog, create a YouTube channel with entertaining videos, or even host your own podcast, there are plenty of ways to do this.
You’ll establish yourself as an expert in your industry, get free organic traffic on search engines, and attract new customers who are already interested in what you’re selling.
Linking up with other non-competitive businesses in your local area can be another great way to market your business.
You can cross-promote each other’s businesses with flyers, website links, or social media shoutouts. You’ll reach new people, and get to help other businesses out too.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and make the ask, after all, what’s the worst that could happen?
Ask For Referrals
A great way to market your business at no cost to you is by reaching out to current or previous customers or clients and asking for testimonials or referrals.
If a customer has had a great experience with your business, they’re likely to be happy to give you a referral, but probably need a gentle nudge to do so.
Run Contests & Giveaways
Everyone loves a freebie!
Contests and giveaways work effectively on social media channels like Instagram, or even via email. The prize doesn’t need to be expensive – it could be a bundle of e-books, a free 30-minute consultation with you, or a loyalty card where you buy 7 coffees and get your 8th free.
Another effective approach is to join up with one or more related businesses and ask each of them to donate a gift. This creates a hamper of wonderful gifts to giveaway which increases the value of it, and everyone receives extra exposure for their business as a result.
Create A Buzz
You don’t need an expensive publicist to create a buzz around your business. Most media companies are actively looking for stories to write about, so if you can create something that’s interesting and timely – and linked to your business – then they’re likely to want to run a story on you.
You could also try creating a publicity stunt, or doing something kind for the local community. Not only are you giving back, but it makes a great story.
You’ll probably know already that it costs more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one. So take good care of your current customers, and make the effort to build real relationships with them. Email marketing is a great way to keep in touch throughout the year. Be sure to create a good mix of valuable content along with promotions.
Some companies like to make a note of their customer’s birthdays and then send them a free gift or coupon code on their birthday as a gift, which can also be effective.
Offer A Free Trial
A free trial or sample is an inexpensive way for you to get your product or service out there, obtain customers, and hook them.
If your offering is good and provides people with real value, then they’re likely to want to purchase it again. People are much more likely to make a purchase once they’ve been able to test it out first.
So don’t be afraid to give something away for free.
Join A Networking Group
Whether you’re a local business or not, there are so many networking groups (in real life and online) that you can join and make valuable contacts from. Facebook is a gold mine for groups like these, while dating app Bumble has created an entire networking platform on their app.
There are also specific networking events that are regularly run in many large towns and cities. You never know who you’ll meet and what doors can open simply by showing up, seeing how you can help others, and telling people what you have to offer.
These are just 10 of the ways to effectively market your business on a shoestring budget, but there are so many more ingenious ideas to spread the word.
Get your creative hat on, and most importantly, have fun with it.