Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in the game for a few years, you probably don’t want to spend much money on marketing if you can just do it yourself. If you're a small business owner who wants to save some money, here are some tips for marketing on a budget.
#1 Go Local
You may be doing business out of a local storefront, or you may be solely online… Either way, you can leverage your community to market your business. Get your name out there by sponsoring a local soccer or flag football team, print out some flyers and hang them up at the local gym or recreation center, set up a booth at a local event, or offer to speak at an event where your expertise would be valued. This will boost awareness about your business AND help you make one-on-one connections.
#2 Be Ready With Your Pitch
If you’re out there in the community, you’ll inevitably have opportunities to pitch your business to fellow locals. When that opportunity arises, make sure you’re ready with your elevator pitch. A good elevator pitch contains a quick explanation of how your business helps people and how you offer something unique. Practice it, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want your prospect to sense nerves or desperation.
Find other businesses that you believe in and make connections with them. Offer them your willingness to promote them if they’ll do the same for you. You could even come together for a community event and refer potential customers to each other. No matter how it looks, it’s a win for you and a win for the other businesses in your community.
#4 Take Advantage of Free Social Media
We all know that there are countless social media platforms out there, and it can seem a little overwhelming. But the good news is that it is either free or very inexpensive to market your business through this medium. Choose a few platforms that you think suit your business best and become an expert in the many ways to reach and expand your audience with them.
But here’s a quick tip: don’t go ad-crazy in social media, especially without nurturing relationships with your current and potential customers first. Social media is meant for socializing, so make that your priority first.
#5 Recycle or Publish Useful Content
These days, content is king. Not only does it boost your credibility and brand awareness, but it also helps people. Of course, you don’t have to spend any money to create great content (if you or a member of your team are willing to do it yourself). If you’ve got older content, simply recycle it. Update it, spruce it up, add a new take on an age-old issue… whatever the case may be, don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to.
#6 Use Email Marketing
Maintain your customer base by sending them periodic emails. Get their email address (either in person or online) and send them your awesome content or a discount deal here and there. Just make sure you’re nurturing the relationship through every touch point. You’ll be surprised how good of an impression this will leave on your customers-- hopefully good enough to get them to tell others about your business.
#7 Offer Discounts, Promotions, and Giveaways
Everyone likes freebies and discounts, so if you want to attract more customers, give them an offer they can’t refuse. Of course, if they love your product or service, they’ll probably come back or tell someone else about you. And even though you may lose a few bucks by giving away freebies or offering limited-time discounts, you will likely gain a repeat customer which is much more valuable in the end anyway.
#8 Ask Your Customers for Referrals
This is your business we’re talking about-- if you don’t ask for the support of your customers, then who will? Asking for referrals is free marketing, and all it takes is your willingness to ask. If you don’t get any traction with a simple request, consider incentivizing customers in exchange for their recommendation.
#9 Don’t Underestimate the Business Card
It doesn’t cost much to get some good-looking business cards to hand out. And even though this is a more old-school approach to marketing, it’s still quite valuable. Always have your business cards on hand, and give them to everyone you meet.
#10 Seek Recognition
Believe it or not, it costs little to nothing to apply for business awards for your niche. And if you are selected, you can tout that award on your website or in your storefront (or both). This boosts your credibility and gives you another thing to write about in your email marketing and social media campaigns.
Making Your Budget Work
Marketing your business on a tight budget is not as difficult as you might think. And by putting into practice the above tips, you’ll find that a little hustle goes a long way.
Sean M. Fitzgerald - Local Marketing Strategist
Gung Ho Local, LLC
PS. I help launch a new small businesses almost every month. Contact Gung Ho Local for help with your Website, Branding, Printing and Apparel.