The marketing world is awash with high-cost options for putting your product or service in front of potential customers – but what happens when money’s tight?
The reality is, money is tight for many businesses – but that doesn’t mean you can’t embrace buy into a decent marketing strategy. In fact, having a limit on your spending can take you down some less-trodden but still very effective paths.
We’ll walk you through some excellent marketing options you can explore, even if there’s nothing in the bank…
Where are you now?
Before you begin batting ideas around your office, it’s important to define what you do – and how that compares to other providers in your marketplace. What’s makes you good, what are your weaknesses, what gives you the edge?
Without some definition about who you are as a company, you’re going to be stepping into a marketplace that can quickly take up enormous amounts of time for very little reward.
Who’s your target audience?
It’s now time to think about who your audience is. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a B2C or B2B business, just start making notes about who’s most likely to be making the decision whether or not to use your service.
When you’ve got a person in your mind, think about their behaviours; what do they consume online? How often do they use a service or buy a product like yours? Where do they live? Are they trailblazers or followers?
They key here is to understand exactly the kind of person you’re going to be targeting.
Where do you want to be?
The next step is to consider where you want to be compared to where you are now. Would you like to double your turnover? Launch a new product? Reach a milestone of users?
Jot down some goals, unless you know where you want to be, you’re unlikely to choose the right route to get there.
What can you use?
Now, here comes the most significant part of the plan – what you’re going to use to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. There’s absolutely no limit to what you can do, but there are some sure-fire winners if you’re on a low budget, including:
- What do you do? In 10 seconds
Some of the best marketing you’ll get to do is in person – you literally never know who you’re going to bump into.
When you do talk to someone relevant, whether that’s from a sales, networking or partnership point of view, you don’t want to put them to sleep with a 20-minute explanation about what you do.
Work on a 10 second overview of what you do and why it’s brilliant. If they want to ask more, they will.
- Work with partners
There are almost certainly other businesses out there that you could work with in some regard such as Struan Baird who is an expert SEO In Edinburgh – and when you do, you both become sources of work for the other.
Perhaps you’re a design agency – could you work with a writing service to offer a more complete package for your customers? Working with partners is a great way to double your marketing efforts without doubling your staffing or marketing costs.
- Write your own content
You know a lot about your chosen field – so why not write about it?
80% of the written media we consume online is produced by our peers – other business owners who are looking to provide valuable content that keeps potential customers coming back.
Write about what you know, even if it’s just the basics – you can guarantee there are people out there looking for that information.
- Establish your social media
Social media channels give your marketing a different depth. While you can look at a website and not really know whether it’s been updated during the last year – a social media channel is perceived as being a kind of back-door way of looking at your business and what you’re doing.
Opt for the platforms your target audience is most likely to be using and start talking – it can be about anything, what you’re doing in the office, what you’re reading about or working on – or just reaching out and communicating with others about what they’re doing.
- Customer referrals
Word of mouth marketing is some of the best you can ever hope for – so why not incentivise your customers to do exactly that?
If they’re happy with what you’re doing for them it doesn’t have to be much – perhaps a small financial reward or access to your service for a reduced rate? There are plenty of possibilities – and you’ll find they often don’t get used, people just like to know you value them enough to make the offer.
- Look for free tools
There are many wonderful marketing tools out there that can be used free of charge assuming you’re not using them on a large-scale basis. Think about services like MailChimp, Google Analytics, Hubspot and Canva – then open them up and see what they can offer.
There’s an idea that something has to be paid for if it’s going to be effective – but in fact, you get access to some seriously powerful tools free of charge, with the hope that you’ll see enough success from them to pay and unlock premium features.
- Build a personal brand
In this interconnected digital world there’s a very strong possibility that people are going to be able to connect the personal you to the professional you (and your company).
On that basis, it’s really important that you present yourself as the kind of person your customers are going to want to be doing business with. Your personal brand is marketing you whether you like it or not, you should very definitely make it work for you.
It costs nothing to talk to people about what you’re doing – and while your product might not be needed by them directly, impressing them with what you do greatly increases your chances of being recommended on to a friend or colleague.
Be networking all the time. Look for opportunities to tell people about what you do – you never know when you’re going to run into someone who’s just one step away from your next big client.