In today’s financial climate, business marketing is more important than ever. We see so many small businesses closing their doors, because they just can’t turnover enough profits to keep themselves afloat.
Competition is fierce and if you are in the same market space as the large commercial enterprises - where do you find the money to compete?
Small business marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. Yes, if you have the budget you can spend an enormous amount of money on promoting your business, but there are still plenty of shoestring marketing ideas easily available to you that are really cost effective. Here are 9 small business marketing ideas that won’t break the bank.
1. Create a website
If you don’t already have a website, you're looking down the barrel of a deep dark hole. A website for your business is a must and there is absolutely no excuse if you don’t already have one. This is the digital age and there are so many small business marketing opportunities available in the digital space that you may as well close up shop right now if you don’t have a website.
2. Referral programs
Leveraging your existing customers to gain more customers is a very simple, but incredibly effective way to increase your customer base. There are two simple ways to implement referral programs – either offer an incentive for referrals or ask for social media follows.
So to encourage referrals with the first method, you can offer your existing customers a free product, a discount on their next purchase, free product services for a year, a free consultation or a host of other gifts. With the second approach, you can add a plugin or widget to your website, which automatically asks visitors to invite their social media friends to follow your website – for example, check out the LoginRadius Friend Invite widget or WordPress Social Invitations.
Referral programs are the one shoestring marketing idea that most business owners are most comfortable implementing. This is because it doesn’t take much of a stretch to create a referral program and you don’t have to learn anything new.
3. Content marketing
Creating and promoting content that engages your audience and helps to solve their problems, educates them about a specific topic or answers their product or brand questions, gives you the opportunity to dramatically increase traffic to your website.
For this to be effective, you need a variety of different content formats, such as eBooks, case studies, YouTube videos, webinars, podcasts and blog posts. Then promote this content via your email list, social media networks and your website.
4. eCard marketing
Building business relationships and keeping in contact with customers and associates is a very reliable and effective small business marketing strategy. One of the simplest of these strategies is to send eCards to your contacts to celebrate a special occasion or holiday.
You can send eCards to celebrate Christmas, holidays, anniversaries and birthdays, to recognise awards, and to announce the launch of a new product. They're a fun, light-hearted approach to maintain contact with important business associates.
5. Social media marketing
Many business owners don’t understand the power of social media marketing, but this is an essential strategy in your business marketing arsenal and can no longer be ignored. If you are looking for shoestring marketing ideas, then you need to have a social media presence so you can leverage these platforms to promote your business.
So check out Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and all of the other social media channels where your customers might hang out and start posting content and engaging with your audience.
6. Email marketing
This is such an inexpensive way to keep in contact with both customers and potential customers, it is amazing that so many business owners do not take advantage of this strategy. Nowadays, people read their emails on their mobile devices, so the size of your audience is growing every day.
It is very simple to set up an automated email marketing campaign using tools like MailChimp and you can use this method to upsell to customers, offer discounts, promote competitions, launch new products and so much more.
7. YouTube videos
Creating YouTube videos is one of the most cost effective small business marketing strategies available to you today. Did you know that Google now owns YouTube? Well, this means that Google really likes to promote YouTube videos in its search engine results pages, so creating YouTube videos is a win-win situation!
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to create a 5 or 10 minute ‘how-to’ video for your business. The more videos you create, the more opportunities you have to promote your business and to increase sales and profits.
8. Apply for awards
This is a great shoestring marketing idea because the more awards you win, the greater your trust factor and the more customers you will attract. Awards help to position your brand in front of the larger community and increase your credibility in the eyes of the consumer.
You can do all the legwork yourself, but there are companies who will source suitable industry specific award programs for you, write your submissions and even submit your applications as well – check out Creative Collective and start applying for your next award today.
People are very visual and infographics have become a very popular and trendy business marketing tool. You can spend a lot of money having professional infographics created for your business, but there are lots of free DIY options available online as well.
People love to share infographics on their social media channels, so if you can create eye-catching and engaging infographics, you seriously have the potential to dramatically ramp up your online traffic and conversions. Check out Visual.ly and see for yourself how easy it is to create infographics.
Marketing ideas for every business
There are so many cost-effective small business marketing ideas available today, that there really is no excuse for your business to languish in the doldrums. If none of the above business marketing ideas suit you, then why not try participating in forums, hosting an information evening, taking on speaking engagements or sponsoring a local community event?
With so many innovative marketing ideas that won't break the bank, you can easily build brand awareness and increase traffic, sales and conversions for your business. It is important to remember however, that you need to mix up these strategies and not put all of your eggs in one basket.