I know what you’re thinking. . . Marketing’s expensive. But, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be. You truly can market your small business without breaking the bank or straining your wallet seams. With technology being so prevalent today, the digital marketing landscape offers numerous creative and affordable ways to marketing your business and increase brand awareness. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on marketing campaigns in order to rise above the competition and stand out in your industry. There are plenty of budget-friendly small business marketing tactics you can use TODAY.
Here are 9 affordable marketing ideas for small businesses:
1: Publish Great Content
It shouldn’t need to be said, but engaging content is key when it comes to marketing your brand. Why would anyone want to read yawn-inducing content stuffed to the brim with keywords?
That’s right. They wouldn’t.
If you have the skills, you can create content yourself. If writing isn’t exactly your strong suit, you can always hire an experienced content marketer / writer to do it for you. Always remember the four E’s of content marketing:
The content your site produces should fit into at least one of these categories. If it doesn’t, it’s going to be hard to attract, engage, and compel your audience to take action – like becoming a customer.
Try List posts (especially Top 10 lists), how-to articles, video content, infographics of best industry practices, etc. All of these types of content will position your business’ brand as an industry authority and will help you build a relationship with your prospective customers.
2. Create Video Content
As I mentioned in the last section, video content is incredibly valuable. Not only does it help with SEO, but it also catches the attention of your audience more than plain text posts will.
It doesn’t break the bank, but it can cost a few dollars to produce professional videos for YouTube. Even then, you can still record them on your phone or a camera you have on-hand, and then upload them for easy sharing and embedding.
Showcase new products, offer tutorials, and talk about relevant (and interesting) things going on in your industry. Instructional videos are one of the best ways to get more sales. If video still sounds a bit too daunting, head on over to SlideShare for an easy way to put together an eye-catching slide presentation.
3. Customer Loyalty Programs
It’s roughly 6 to 7 times more expensive to bring in new customers than it is to get your existing customers to keep coming back. In fact, boot your customer retention rates by a mere 5% skyrockets your profits up to 95%. Besides, existing customers spend nearly 70% more than new customers will. So, how do you keep your customers coming back for more? Implement a customer loyalty program!
Customer loyalty programs establish relationships with your customers and get them to become loyal fans of your brand and its products. With a customer loyalty program, businesses offer their customers exclusive promotions, products, and discounted prices in exchange for a promise that they will continue to return to that particular store. Generally, this promise is upheld through point systems, referrals, and other similar methods. And, if there’s one thing consumers love, it’s the promise of free stuff. With an effective customer loyalty program in place, your customers will tell their friends about all the great stuff they get. Their friends will check out your website, and will likely become new customers. After all, word-of-mouth IS the most powerful form of advertising!
4. Use Social Media Effectively
You would be surprised to learn how many small business owners create social media accounts, but then don’t use them to their full potential! They don’t post content with depth or value, and they don’t engage with their audience. It’s hard to build up a following – and get new customers – if you don’t take the time to establish a relationship with your audience.
If you haven’t already, take the time to create business accounts on the major social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram. This doesn’t mean you have to be spreading yourself thin trying to be everywhere at once. Establish a presence on all of the sites, and then schedule posts with social media scheduling tools. Then, focus in on 2-3 platforms that your target audience is using. Go where your audience is, and you will be able to convert them from followers to customers.
- Use your company’s logo in your profile picture for consistent branding and recognition. If you don’t have a logo (or it’s time for a new one), consider a logo contest with 99Designs. They tend to produce better results and offer a design you love or your money back.
- Include a fully fleshed-out bio that adequately describes your company. Include links that lead to your website and other social media platforms.
- Incorporate industry-related or branded keywords and hashtags to your bio.
- Add header images that relate to your website.
- Engage, engage, engage! Comment, retweet, and like the posts of others. Share 3rd party content, your own content, and eye-catching images.
- Be authentic, but not transparent. You want to let your audience get to know you and your brand, but there IS such a thing as oversharing.
4: Email Marketing
Email marketing is just as important as it is affordable. It provides a budget-friendly means of promoting your content and products, and to offer additional value to your audience. Send out regular newsletters with links to your latest blog posts and include exclusive discounts, tips, and how-tos. Even if you don’t happen to be tech-savvy, it’s easy for small businesses to set up email marketing campaigns with affordable tools.
5: Recycle Older Content
You can repurpose everything from existing case studies to your older blog posts. Take several related blog posts and turn them into a downloadable eBook or packet. Make a blog post into a webinar script or one for a video tutorial. Take the main points of a product write-up or other article and create a shareable infographic. Get creative with it and find ways to repurpose your old content. Most of your newer readers are likely to have never read your older stuff, so revamping it will make it entirely fresh and 100% new for a large portion of your audience. It’s a great way to bring in new readers and turn them into loyal customers.
6: Contests + Giveaways
While you do have to spend a bit on the prize, you will make up for it in engagement, number of participants, and the potential customers you get from hosting a contest or giveaway. It doesn’t even need to be expensive. It’s free, and consumers love to receive free things. Just take a look at T-Mobile and their T-Mobile Tuesdays: they are constantly giving things away, and routinely hold contests for bigger prizes. They get tons of new followers and potential customers each time someone posts about what they’ve won. If you’re not sure how to go about it, check out Rafflecopter – They make it ridiculously easy to host a contest and then embed the entry form on your website.
7: Guerilla Marketing
If you’re on a tight budget, this is the way to go. It’s more about creativity than money, and the tactics are generally pretty easy to implement, especially if you’re targeting local customers. Write your Twitter handle in a prominent place with sidewalk chalk. Use an abandoned area as a canvas for street art that represents your brand. Put your company’s stickers on poles, billboards, and other urban fixtures to catch the attention of those passing by. There’s a lot of creative wiggle-room here, and it doesn’t require you to spend lots of money in order to have a successful marketing campaign.
8. Apply for Business Awards
If there’s one thing that builds credibility and boosts authority, it’s having awards showcased on your website. Most industries have awards you can apply for and, if you win, they give you an online badge to display on your site. More credibility means more sales.
9: Host an Event
Company events are one of the best ways to drive more foot traffic into your business, increase your brand awareness and reach, and bring in new customers. It doesn’t require a ton of money, either! Plan a company event, and then hand out flyers and post about it on social media. Build up anticipation for at least a week prior to the event to get people talking and excited about it. You can even tie it into a give away, or hold a raffle, to bring in even more people. Look for affordable DJ services to add flair and make things more exciting. Create high-quality images for social media and make flyers with free tools like Canva. Get creative with it!
What are YOUR favorite ways to market a small business on a budget?