As a business owner, one of your goals is to get your product or service in front of the right customer, right? And this is where marketing comes in handy.
“Marketing is the process of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”
Marketing can be one of the most expensive aspects of running a business. However, it's also one of the most important. When it comes to marketing, most small to mid-sized businesses have the same three questions:
How do I get started with marketing?
Where do I focus my marketing efforts?
How do I market my business when I don’t have much (if any) money?
If you're running a business, you might not have the budget to invest in expensive marketing campaigns. But that doesn't mean you can't market your business effectively. Here are some tips for marketing your business on a budget.
Define your terms
Before diving too deep, let’s define some terms:
Advertising: Paying for exposure
Marketing: An attempt to start a conversation with your target audience for promoting your brand or offer
Inbound marketing: Also known as content marketing; creating valuable content that draws in your audience so they initiate the conversation
Outbound marketing: Intentionally reaching out to your audience in an attempt to start the conversation
Networking: Plugging into people and communities for the purpose of growing your network
Let’s get started!
So, you want to start marketing. Where do you start? If you don’t have a lot of money to spend at this current point, I don’t recommend paying for advertising. Wait until you have a solidified budget that you can afford allocating to increased exposure before paying for ads. For example, when running a single ad (on Facebook/Instagram), a good starting price per ad would be between $130 to $500+ (AUD). Don’t feel like you need to start spending that cash straight away! Focus on marketing before advertising.
When starting out, remember that it takes work… and someone has to do it. You either do the work yourself or you pay someone to do it. Chances are, if you’re reading a post on “how to market your business on a budget,” then you don’t have a lot of money to pay someone, so you’re going to have to put in some sweat equity.
Who, What, and Where to Market?
We already defined our terms, now it’s time to think about what that could look like for your business. There are three golden questions that every business owner should ask regarding marketing:
Who am I trying to serve? (The answer to this question determines your target audience)
What problems are they trying to solve as it relates to my brand? (The answer to this question determines your offer)
Where is their attention? (The answer to this question determines where you should focus your marketing efforts.)
After answering those questions, all you have to do is formulate a plan and stick to it for 4-7 months.
Formulate a Plan
With marketing, you have two main groups: inbound and outbound marketing.
Inbound marketing, also known as content marketing, involves creating valuable content that draws in your audience so they initiate the conversation. This can include creating resources for free download in exchange for contact information or creating content on your blog to increase organic SEO.
Outbound marketing is the intentional reaching out to your audience in an attempt to start the conversation. This could include methods such as cold calling, direct mail, or advertising.
Most businesses desire to focus on inbound marketing because, frankly, everyone dislikes outbound marketing. Inbound marketing is great, but it’s more suitable for the long game. You need to start early, and the results of your inbound marketing efforts may take some time to show. It's essential to have multiple marketing strategies or tactics happening simultaneously. Choose 1-3 things you can do in each category (inbound, outbound, and networking). You should always have at least 4-7 marketing tactics going on at one time.
Inbound marketing could include creating content on your blog to increase organic SEO or creating resources like white-papers and how-to guides for free download in exchange for contact information. Outbound marketing could include picking up the phone and calling people, knocking on their door, or directly reaching out to individuals through social media. Networking could include joining a group like your local chamber of commerce or attending events where your audience is likely to congregate.
The point is you need to consider where your audience’s attention is, then be there!
Many businesses have a scattered approach to marketing, trying everything without a clear plan and changing tactics every month. This approach doesn't yield results. Instead, it's important to have confidence and formulate a plan. Once you have a plan, commit to it for at least 4-7 months before making any changes. Consistency is key, and you won't see instant results. Don't be afraid to tweak things as you go, but overall, you need to be consistent to test what works and what doesn't.
With the groundwork laid out above, let’s look into some ways you can get started marketing on a budget.
Attend Networking Events
Attending networking events can be a great way to meet potential customers and partners. Look for events in your industry or local community and make an effort to connect with other attendees. Be prepared with an elevator pitch and business cards, and don't be afraid to follow up with contacts after the event. Remember, networking is about building relationships, so focus on making authentic connections rather than just trying to sell your products or services.
Use Social Media
Social media is a powerful tool for marketing your business. It's also free! By using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you can connect with your audience and promote your products or services. Here are some tips for using social media effectively:
Choose the platforms that are most relevant to your business and target audience.
Post regularly to keep your followers engaged.
Use hashtags to increase visibility.
Run contests and promotions to generate buzz.
Leverage Email Marketing
Email marketing is another cost-effective way to market your business. By building an email list, you can reach out to your audience with targeted messages and promotions. Here are some tips for effective email marketing:
Offer a valuable lead magnet, such as an ebook or free trial, to encourage sign-ups.
Segment your email list based on interests and behaviours to make your messages more relevant.
Use eye-catching subject lines and design to increase open rates.
Test and optimize your emails to improve performance.
Start a Blog
Blogging can be a great way to market your business without spending a lot of money. By creating a blog, you can share your expertise and build a community of followers. You can also use your blog to promote your products or services. Here are some tips for starting a successful blog:
Choose a niche that you're passionate about and that will appeal to your target audience.
Create high-quality content that is informative and engaging.
Share your blog posts on social media to increase visibility.
Collaborate with other bloggers in your niche to reach a wider audience.
Collaborate with Other Businesses
Collaborating with other businesses can be a great way to reach a wider audience and generate buzz. Here are some ideas for collaboration:
Host a joint event with another business in your niche.
Cross-promote each other's products or services on social media.
Co-create content, such as a blog post or video, with another business.
Now you're ready to market!
Marketing your business on a budget doesn't have to be difficult. By using these tips, you can effectively promote your products or services without breaking the bank. Remember to focus on creating high-quality content that resonates with your audience, and to leverage the power of social media and email marketing to reach a wider audience. Good luck!
Before we head off though!
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