If you read our blog about investments for online startups, you know that marketing is one of the best places to invest. But if you’re a small business, you don’t necessarily have the capital to afford a clever, large-scale marketing campaign. You have to stretch those precious dollars and make every penny count! Here are seven ways to market your small business that won’t break the bank.
1. Reward Referred Customers with a Discount
Your customers will definitely start referring their friends if it means they get a discount. Any kind of referral program is smart. But the most effective way to create a referral program is to partner with another business.
You should choose a business that operates either online or is in close proximity to yours. They shouldn’t be one of your competitors but instead offer products or services that complement yours. Build a relationship with them that’s mutually beneficial. Whenever you successfully refer one of your customers to their business, that customer will get a discount and vice versa. This is convenient for buyers and incentivizes them to use your services. You’ll likely gain many new loyal customers.
For example, if you’re a professional photographer, you deal with a lot of clients who want their makeup professionally done, especially for special occasions like weddings. Find a local makeup artist whose work you believe in and form a relationship with them. Clients who use your referral to a makeup artist can receive a discount.
2. Apply for Awards
Some businesses are fortunate enough to be nominated for small business awards or titles like “Best Cup of Coffee in the Midwest” or “Most Fashionable Independent Clothing Boutique.” But did you know that sometimes you can apply for these kinds of awards? If you end up winning, you could be recognized online, in a print publication, or on social media. Either way, if you’re able to win an award—or even announce that you’re nominated—you’ll definitely turn some heads.
Any award is something to brag about! Add the award to your website and all your social media channels. If there’s a write-up somewhere, get a copy and hang it up in your shop with pride. This is great advertising that will take you nothing apart from a little time.
3. Invest Some Time in Email Marketing
If you’re like many businesses, you probably have some kind of email list (and if you don’t, start collecting them ASAP)! This is a great way to inform customers about special discounts and promotions.
Turn your emails into a marketing campaign. Send out a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly newsletter with exclusive content that will excite your readers. You can even have two separate email lists: one made of current customers and one of people who simply subscribe to your emails. This will help you be even more effective with your marketing strategies.
4. Participate in Guest Blog Posting
Blogging is an easy, effective way to market your business and get found online. Another way to use blogging to your advantage is guest posting. Find another business that offers complementary services to yours or that you have some other connection with. They just need to have a blog! Then trade a featured blog post on their site for a featured post of theirs on your site.
This is the perfect way to get people who may not otherwise read your blog to check out your website. And this could lead to new people buying your products or services. If you don’t have the time or the expertise to write one of these blogs yourself, hire a professional writer! It’s the best way to ensure you’re putting out consistent, high-quality writing that readers will value.
5. Enhance Your Blog with Eye-Catching Visuals
Although having good writing on your blog is important, it’s not necessarily enough to gain new customers. You need great visuals to truly capture your audience and make them want to purchase your services. Photos don’t need to cost a lot. You can find them on stock photo websites like Pexels and Unsplash if you’re not willing to spend the money on professional photos.
One of the best ways to add visuals to your blog is to insert an infographic. This is a way to give your customers valuable, in-depth information. You could try your hand at making your own infographic or if you can afford to pay extra, hire someone else to do it.
6. Increase Your Exposure on Social Media
Social media is one of the easiest ways to create a marketing campaign nowadays. But not every business is utilizing these platforms in the most effective way possible. You should be targeting consumers where they are most active on your social media.
Choose a platform that is the best fit for your industry. If you’re not getting a lot of engagement, you should consider switching to a different social media platform and focus your efforts there. Make sure you’re utilizing your social media accounts as much as you can. Post valuable content for your followers and engage with those who comment on and share your posts.
7. Participate in Speaking Engagements
Is there a local event where you could share some wisdom with an audience? It’s a great way to market your small business! Look for speaking opportunities at benefits and other events. You don’t have to necessarily need to have a Ted Talk worthy speech prepared. You can simply speak on a topic related to your business.
You may even get the opportunity to network while you’re at the event. Make connections with the people there and pass out some business cards. You never know what could lead to a valuable relationship down the line! All you need is a little time to make it happen!
An Effective Marketing Strategy Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive!
Marketing isn’t always one of the most fun aspects of owning a business, but it is one of the most important. All of these ideas prove that it doesn’t have to take a lot of money to showcase the benefits of your business. If you go about it strategically, there are lots of ways to effectively market on a budget.