6 ways to market a small business on a shoestring budget

For big companies with large marketing budgets, a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars can be a drop in the ocean. Generally, if an activity doesn’t achieve the desired ROI it’s not going to have a massive impact.

But, for small business operators it’s a different story. Every dollar counts, and any investment needs to pay off in real and immediate marketing ROI.

That’s why we’ve come up with 6 scenarios that show that how a robust marketing plan can still be executed on a shoestring budget.

 

  1. Research your market.

This costs nothing, and the more time you can invest in identifying not only your target markets but the characteristics that would describe your ideal buyer types, the more you will be able to:

  • Better focus your marketing efforts
  • Hone your marketing messages to attract and engage likely buyers.

Just think about the best sporting teams out there. They don’t just study up on their own game plan, they check out what competitors are doing so that they can look for opportunities to beat them. Going head to head with a competitor in areas where they are stronger or more well-established is usually going to result in a loss.

On the other hand, if you spend time analysing the competitive field to look for their areas of weakness or gaps in the marketplace, you can discover opportunities where your business will have the best chance to grow.

 

  1. Use email effectively.

Email marketing comes in high on our list of recommendations for small businesses, because it still works. Regardless of industry or company size, marketers across the board are still pointing to email marketing as the tactic that produces their highest return on marketing dollars invested.

Not only is it effective, it’s also desired. In study after study, consumers regularly say that email is their preferred channel for brand communications.

 

  1. Add speed to your arsenal.

The faster you can engage, intrigue and convert your audience members into buyers, the better. Most consumers start their search for a business, product or service online. What’s more, in many cases online research has replaced the traditional buying cycle to the extent that by the time a buyer contacts a sales person for information, they are already completely through the buying journey (or nearly so).

To ensure that prospects who arrive at your website can quickly and easily access the information most likely to convert them from browser to buyer, you’ll need to be sure that your site can automatically detect what type of device they are using. Consumers expect sites these days to be optimised for desktop, tablet and mobile, so don’t let a potential buyer go elsewhere by not having this simple feature in place.

 

  1. Optimise your site.

Although many small business operators claim that word of mouth is their best marketing. It probably shouldn’t be. When it comes to making big purchases, 81 percent of consumers go online before heading out to a store and may spend from two to three months gathering the information they need to make a decision.

Source: GE Capital Retail Bank’s second annual Major Purchase Shopper Study.

Even when it comes to low-ticket items or the type of small businesses a consumer is likely to buy on a daily basis, a web search is often the starting point that leads to a buying decision. In fact, when it comes to mobile searches, more than half result in conversions within one hour.

Source: Mobile Search Moments report

 

  1. Be strategically social.

For a small investment in sponsored posts on Facebook or LinkedIn, you can put your brand, products or services in front of thousands of members of your target audience each month. Even a small investment in social marketing can produce hundreds of new followers on social networks as well as increased web traffic, brand awareness and hopefully bottom line profits that can be traced back to initial engagement on social media.

Because of their popularity with consumers (Facebook, Instagram, etc) and with business buyers (LinkedIn), social platforms have done small-business marketers a big favour. Not only do they allow you to set a limit on the amount spent to sponsor a post or page, they have also built tools which allow you to drill down into demographics in order to put these ads and posts directly on the feeds of individuals who meet your ideal buyer type criteria. The result of all of this is more bang for your buck.

 

  1. Strengthen your team.

The idea of establishing informal partnerships with other businesses for the purposes of cross-promoting or marketing cooperatively can be extremely beneficial, in particular for entrepreneurs, startups and small business operators who have yet to establish any kind of large contact databases.

Sharing contacts and working with other business owners whose target markets overlap with yours could help you build brand awareness, and grow your business much quicker than you would be able to do on your own.

 

Author: Cameron McIver

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