It’s often said that it takes money to make money – but when your funds are tight you need to make every dollar stretch. Cutting out promotion costs may make sense from a bottom line perspective, but it will stall the growth of your business.
The solution? Keep marketing and advertising, but spend as little as possible while you’re growing. When these low cost ideas start working, you can then allocate more funds to your promotion. But for now, here’s where you need to spend your time.
Know your market inside and out.
This should be your first step no matter what – and best of all, it’s free! Spending more time on Google, mining your customer database and strategic searching on social media can help you develop a better promotion plan. You should also scope out the competition and see how they are approaching your shared target market. Doing your homework will keep your costs low as you set out and help you keep them low when you have a bigger budget.
Don’t be shy about asking for referrals.
Just like research, asking for referrals will cost you very little but will produce big results. Your existing client base is a gold mine – and you could be missing out on its potential. If a customer is happy with your company, take the time to ask for a referral. Or consider starting an official referral program that rewards your customers for spreading the word about your great work.
Think DIY when it comes to PR.
A high priced publicity firm isn’t a necessity to get the word out about your business. Although there is value in PR firms when you have the budget, as you grow your small business you need to think DIY. Become a master self-promoter by focusing on techniques that are high-impact, low-cost. Try this list from Inc.com or visit HelpAReporterOut.com to view opportunities to be featured in the media.
Teach what you know to your potential advocates.
On average, people know at least 200 people. Some will be perfect customers for your business and others may know someone who would be. Educate your audience through a blog, through social media and through local presentations. You’ll build relationships with people in your current circle who can become advocates for your business. Think of it like planting seeds for future business.
Engage with email.
E-mail marketing is cost-effective and easy to track. It can deliver results with each and every send. Deliver high quality content via e-mail newsletters can help you reach your audience on a regular basis. Use an email marketing platform like MailChimp or Constant Contact to develop pieces that reflect your brand as well as manage your contact list and gain permission for sending messages.
Marketing and advertising don’t have to take a majority of your budget to be effective. Use this list as a springboard for your own marketing campaigns.
About the author:
Tobi North – Creativity rock star and marketing master
I enjoy being innovative and creating communications that customers can relate to. I am always looking for that “light bulb” moment, when I find an interesting topic that I know our customers will love to learn more about. In between creative brainstorming sessions, you can probably find me at a concert or searching for the best BBQ joint in town. .