You know you need to market your small business. But it be can quite frustrating when you know what you need to do, but can’t do it because you have a very modest – or almost non-existent – budget. Still, you have to find a way to do your marketing and promotion if you even want to have a fighting chance of elevating your small business to the level you intend it to be.
So how do you work around a shoestring budget?
That’s the first thing you have to do – acknowledge that you do indeed have a starter budget to begin with. Not accepting that fact, or worse, resenting it will stop you from taking proper action. You can make sales; you just have to be willing to go out there and take strategic initiatives to let your prospects know that your business does exist, and to put it in the best possible light.
The good news is that you don’t need to break the bank in order to have an effective marketing strategy. Here’s how you can successfully pull it off on low funds.
- Work on your blog.
Yes, this tactic is amazingly simple and practically a no-brainer. But it can also be deceptively effective if you take the time and effort to do it correctly. This means that your business doesn’t only need a blog – you need to publish consistently fresh content on it. It will be the core foundation of the rest of your digital marketing strategies, after all. Always keep your audience in mind and make sure your posts serve their interests and needs.
- Have an email list.
It’s almost like a rule of thumb: it’s a classic strategy for business owners to have an email list. That goes for you even if you’re just starting out and barely have anyone on your list to begin with. Of course it’s understandable if you don’t want to immediately commit to a monthly fee for its management service, but then again you don’t necessarily have to. A notable provider like Mailchimp allows free registration if you have less than 2,000 subscribers – which, in all likeliness, you do. But don’t worry – you can level up your email marketing later on.
- Be a contributing writer for an industry publication.
Placing an advertisement in a popular trade magazine can feel like a very expensive fantasy. You can, however, still make your presence known without running an ad. Contributing an article will do just that. And the best thing about this strategy is that it works no matter what field you’re in; just look for a publication in your respective market. Many magazines accept contributed articles with short author bios.
- Attend networking events.
Never underestimate the power of a personal connection. Even though many of your marketing endeavors are admittedly online, it still doesn’t hurt to go out, mingle, and meet new people every so often. Check what networking events and meetups are happening in your city, and plot one or two in your calendar regularly. So that it doesn’t feel like a waste of time, be discerning and choose those events that really appeal to you. You can also scout for seminars or workshops in your area. You’ll learn something new and expand your network at the same time.
- Consider hosting webinars.
Hosting webinars can usually be quite expensive, but you can, of course, make adjustments to it to fit your budget. A cheap option like MeetCheap will allow you to organize one without going well above your fund limit. Or if you really have no extra cash to spare, Google Hangouts will do for starters. The point is to share valuable content, establish yourself as an industry expert, and promote your products or services.
- Have your own Facebook group.
If your business already has a Facebook account (and it should), creating your own Facebook group will help in your marketing. It doesn’t have to be about your business; instead, think of a topic that is relatable to your business and work on it. For example, if you run an organic restaurant, your group can be about healthy eating. If you have a gym in a big city, your group can be about exercise tips for busy professionals.
- Prepare a business card.
Of course you have your website and online profiles already, but it would still serve you to have a well-designed business card with you. And because it’s part of your branding, ensure that it matches your company’s visual identity and outlook. Have it on hand no matter where you go, even if it’s to a place that is not at all business related – like a grocery store. You never know where you’ll meet a likely customer, after all.
- Teach a free class.
Do you like to be in front of people? Then make good use of it and leverage your public speaking skills to teach a free class. It’s a good way to introduce your business to locals, particularly if you’ve just set up office in a new location. And before you complain that you don’t have enough time as it is, the class doesn’t have to be comprehensive or exhaustive. Rather, aim for something that is fun but still informative – and you can shoot to teach for as little as one hour.
When you’re short on funds, you need to work with what you have – and that includes being creative, resourceful, and innovative. You already have more than enough to get you started; you just have to see how you’ll utilize them. Marketing your business is not a piece of cake, and that goes whether you have a big budget or not. If you don’t, it just means you may need to employ alternative ways to get the results you want. But that’s the key point to remember: you can achieve them, and they’re totally possible.
Do you have any tips on marketing your business on a budget? Share with us in the comments.