By: Gordon Conner
Last week we started a series in which we uncover solutions to problems faced by smaller businesses that can be solved by branding and marketing initiatives. Last week our focus was on ways to make your business stand out from your competition. This week we’re looking at the problem of having a very small budget to solve big marketing issues.
This problem is often compounded by the fact that the business doesn’t really have a marketing and/or sales program. Entrepreneurs are really smart when it comes to their core business, but when it comes to marketing, not so much.
Some people think that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door. Wrong! They aren’t going to beat a path to a door if they don’t know where that door is. Or what’s behind it.
Another reason is marketing is hard work. Especially since it isn’t what caused the entrepreneur to get into business in the first place. By the time he has spent everything on furniture and equipment, he doesn’t have anything left for marketing.
And then there’s the entrepreneur who wants to be associated with the most expensive ad agency in town because he feels they have all the answers. Sometimes they do. But often they don’t and you’ve wasted all of your money needlessly.
Small businesses have two problems. First, their larger competitors have a lot more money to spend and you can never match them. Secondly, you have to spend a larger percentage of your budget just to stay in the ball game.
The reality is you have to squeeze everything you can out of every dollar you spend. But there are ways to pull it off and here are some of the ways to do it:
Small Budget Website Strategies:
- Don’t overbuild your Website. You can build a website for nothing if you know where to look. Do your research.
- Be sure your web address obviously conveys what your business does.
- Put your Web address (URL) on everything.
- Be sure you have utilized SEO tactics to insure organic search results. (No money spent here.).
- Try a little pay per click (very low budget and controllable).
- Produce lots of content to increase your stickiness.
- Create many links with other sites to increase your search engine visibility.
- Write new content often. Keep your website fresh.
Small Budget Social Media Strategies:
- Start your own blog and offer comments on other blogs.
- Be sure your web address is listed on every blog post and anything else that shows on the web.
- Learn how to use Linkedin effectively, as well as other networking sites.
- Use Twitter to find relevant posts and prospects.
- Be controversial, without getting yourself in too much trouble.
- Pick your niche and be the expert at it.
- Write articles and publish them throughout the Internet.
- Pick one or two social media sites and focus all of your attention there. Don’t add too many and not do a good job with any of them.
Small Budget Email Strategies:
- Build your email list aggressively. This will be like gold in the future.
- Be sure your email signature features a sales message and web address.
- As you write articles and posts, be sure to include links to valuable information.
- Write your emails with flare and fun.
- Be sure to check your emails with a spam detection tool like EmailExam, Acxiom Digital or Lyris ContentChecker to be sure your emails don’t get hung up in the spam filters.
- Have an easy way for readers to opt-out of your emails. You don’t want readers who don’t want to be there.
Small Budget Direct Marketing Strategies:
- Target your list for demographics, psychographics and any other tools available. You want fewer packages and better response.
- Test a small quantity before you mail the whole list. And use what you learn for the next mailing.
- Try a postcard mailer. It’s cheaper to produce, the postage is lower and they work! Drive your prospects to a web form or a toll-free number.
- Cut out the four-color printing unless you’re selling food, magazines, resorts or related products.
- Try third-class postage. You’ll save a ton and most people won’t even notice. The exception would be time-sensitive mailings.
- Unless you’re sending to large numbers, use postal pre-sorting.
More Cost-Cutting Ideas:
- Partner with larger companies. It’s easier to sell to large companies that way.
- Use PR (talk about saving money!)
- Be persistent. Remember to repeat up to eight times to get attention.
- Don’t overlook handwritten notes. Cheap and effective.
- Ask for referrals. They are much easier to sell, at lower cost.
- Utilize experts. It’ll cost you in the short term, but save in the long term.
- List your primary products and services on your stationery and business card, or anything else you give to potential buyers.
- Consistency is key. Make sure every one of your marketing efforts supports and reinforces your value proposition.
- Learn to haggle. The media is hungry and they have unsold inventory. Bargain for it.
One last thing. Leverage your content. You can post it to social media more than once. Saves you time and gets more exposure.
About the Author
Gordon Conner is a Branding Consultant/Coach and Copywriter who helps build killer brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing, branding and copywriting services for 39 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or www.BranWorks.com.