Marketing on a Limited Budget
The marketing budget: it's never enough for marketing professionals, and always too much for management. Some global corporations like Coke or Pepsi or GE can spend upwards of 10 percent of total revenue on their marketing budget, but that number is a pie in the sky to many marketing folks from small or midsize companies, where they're lucky to get one or two percent of revenue allocated to marketing. We will be the first to say that you usually can't expect grandiose results with a shoestring budget. But that doesn't mean you can't make an impact.
A limited marketing budget might be a blessing in disguise. It forces you dig deep and get creative with your methods. Luckily, that’s the kind of authentic connection that customers want from a business.
So, where do you go from here? In marketing, there’s a well-known rule that says your customers need to be exposed to a message at least seven times before it influences their buying decisions (and we've heard that number increase to 10-12 touchpoints in recent years). Your low budget can still be high-impact with the right mix of techniques. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Write a Blog
It’s one of the most cost-effective ways to showcase your expertise. Write about industry innovations or make a bold prediction about the competitive landscape. Solve problems for your readers. An online search for blog ideas can help you build your portfolio. Look at questions you get from customers or clients; those are content gold. Research what other businesses are saying about a topic, then take it a step further. The ideas for content are endless. Then share your posts on social media.
Make How-To Videos
Videos are shared 1200% more than text and images combined. That’s huge. If customers think the video is informative and valuable, statistics suggest that they will share it, which extends your reach and boosts your reputation.
Consolidate Social Media
Are you spending too much time managing your social media accounts? A platform like Hootsuite or Buffer might be able to help. They can make it easier to schedule your content and then analyze performance. We're partial to HootSuite because of its analytics and integrations, but it depends what you need and want. To just schedule social media, most any of the platforms will do the job well.
A well-designed infographic is worth a thousand words. They are persuasive, eye-catching, and easily shared. Most people are visual learners, so this type of image might be the perfect fit for explaining a complicated aspect of your business. Along the same idea, insert memes and GIFs in your social media rotation. Facebook has a nice feature on the platform itself (not through a social media management platform like HootSuite) to create videos from up to 10 images. Whatever you can do to break up the text.
Recycle Old Content
Do you have existing content? You can repackage it as a newsletter or a free download. Then repost it on social media to help generate even more website traffic. Remember that it is 100 percent new content to a large portion of your audience. We've seen past clients take a few dozen older blog posts, update them, and put them into an e-book. You can also take snippets of old blog posts and use them in social media posts without the link. Or you can go back through the archives to see what elements of a topic you didn't explore before, and write a new post - and be sure to link back to the previous one.
Start a Customer Referral Program
Ask for referrals and reward customers who give them. A satisfied customer is your best advocate, and testimonials are highly persuasive. Once you hammer out the details, you can promote it using any of the previously listed ideas. We know of a dentist who mailed out a $10 Starbucks gift card any time a current patient referred a new one. There have been other arrangements we've seen where clients get a small discount on their bill for a referral, or employees would get a percentage of first year collections. Whatever works - the reward doesn't have to be big.
Apply for Business Awards
Have you ever searched for business award opportunities? It might take some time to apply, but a win means instant credibility and free publicity for your business. Usually there are industry-specific awards in addition to local business awards. We don't advocate for doing projects solely for the sake of winning an award, but when you do great work, it feels good to be recognized - and it helps that you get the extra marketing mileage out of the process, too.
Remember Public Relations
There are entire firms dedicated to the art of public relations, and when you have the budget for it, they can open doors for you to national publications and get you on the short list of local reporters' phone calls. But you can still implement some similar PR tactics for little or no money. You can host a training event, volunteer your services for a nonprofit organization, sponsor an event, create a business award of your own, and don't forget you can (and should) announce new hires, promotions, new service lines, research findings, publications, and events. Research who the reporters are in your industry niche and start developing a relationship with them WITHOUT the expectation that they will call you for an interview. You can also subscribe to a PR service like Cision (formerly PR Newswire) to broaden the reach of your existing press releases.
Honorable Mention: Google Ads
The beauty of Google Ads, formerly known as AdWords, is that your budget is whatever you want it to be. You can target specific keywords and have your ad appear in the Google search results anytime that keyword or a similar phrase is entered, and the campaigns are fluid - meaning you can update them anytime. Google Ads can support your whole branding effort generally, or can be done for specific services or products. You choose the keywords, the audience, the placement, and the budget, and Google takes it from there.
We'd be remiss if we didn't mention paid social media advertising here. It's relatively cheap, extremely measurable, and has the ability to target specific segments. Plus it usually boosts your own page followers in the process. On Facebook and LinkedIn, you can boost posts and publish online ads. Boosted posts are the cheapest and can be done for as little as $10. Twitter obviously has sponsored tweets. Facebook lets you promote your entire page or event. There are a lot of options that won't cost much money, in other words.
Are you ready to put a few of these ideas into practice? We can work with you to determine the best plan of action and then help implement a cost-effective marketing strategy. Contact us for more information.