Marketing is an important step in spreading the word about your company, but what in the world can you do when you're already on a tight budget and need to reach new customers? Thankfully, there are plenty of outreach opportunities without massive price tags attached; you just need to know how to capitalize on them. Here are seven of the best cost-effective marketing campaigns available for your tight budget.
1. Create Content
It’s hard to reach consumers if you don’t put any feelers out. Not all marketing relies on you paying an advertisement agency money to publish commercials and print billboards. Thankfully with the help of the Internet, there are plenty of outreach methods available.
So what kind of content should you focus on? Look towards creating a blog, a YouTube channel and even producing a podcast. Each of these outreach methods allows you to connect with a varying audience that shares similar passions. If your business sells collectible toys, you can write blog posts about collecting, upkeep and searching for the next great score, which is perfect for some consumers. Others will find listening to an audio podcast to be more beneficial as they can turn it on while they ride the bus into work. YouTube is great as you have an instant visual presence. Plus, as you fall into a grove with creating one outreach method it will become easier to produce the others.
Each outreach method can advertise the others, bringing in additional viewers/listeners all while you grow your customer base. Best of all, you’ll probably have fun creating these videos, writing about a passion and recording podcast. There’s always going to be a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll start to look forward to this outreach opportunity.
2. Establish Yourself as a Leader in the Industry
Customers want to know they are buying products and services from leaders in the industry. This is also where you creating content comes in. When writing beneficial blogs and showcasing new products through video reviews on YouTube, you’ll create a strong following, all while boosting your credentials. As more and more people turn to you for advice, they will also turn to you to buy your company’s products. So, always focus on establishing yourself as a leader in the industry. It goes a long way in marketing your business, all without paying much money to do so.
3. Create a Referral Program
Do you know how much referral programs cost? Nothing. At least not up front. You don’t need to pay to market a referral program. Instead, you reward a current customer with a discount on future purchases (or simply pay them money) when they send a potential lead to you and the lead turns into a customer. There are all sorts of referral programs currently out there. MeUndies pays cash for every referral someone sends them. Tesla pays out $1,000 to a customer who refers a new customer. The tech company Dropbox provides additional storage space to current users who bring in new users. There are all sorts of options when it comes to referral programs. The point is, these programs cost you nothing in advertising as you allow your customers to do all the talking for you. Plus, people are far more likely to listen to their friends when making a purchase rather than a random advertisement they spot on the Internet.
4. Ask Your Customers for Some Social Media Love
Social media is a great tool for businesses. It instantly connects you with customers and allows you to put a much more personal face on the company. With that said, you want your customers to share some love and showcase the products they purchase from you. After all, whenever a customer shares your post, mentions your business in a comment or highlights your services, it acts as free advertising.
There are a handful of ways you can go about doing this. For starters, you can conduct contests with your followers. Tell your followers you’ll select one person who re-tweets, re-posts or shares an image of your company and you’ll give them a free gift card (or something else for free). It only costs you the value of the item, but it can help spread the word of your business to tens of thousands of other social media followers who wouldn’t have seen your content otherwise.
Another great way to garnish a bit of social media love from your followers is to have an Instagram feed on your website of customers who tag your business in their posts. Naturally, you'll need to approve these posts before the images go live, but avid social media users love the idea of having their content shared, as it may mean more followers and exposure for them.
Social media is a powerful tool. Just make sure you take advantage of it.
5. Press Release
This is a bit old fashion, but it is one of the best ways for instant exposure, especially if you’re opening a physical storefront. Smaller towns love to highlight new companies and businesses that are opening. Before you move ahead with your official launch date for the business, check with the local newspaper(s) to see if they are willing to run a press release for the business. Most newspapers have no problem doing this. You just need to make sure it is written correctly (if you’ve never written a press release before, now is the time to start looking for examples online).
The beauty of the press release is two-fold. First, it works as free advertising. Even if you pay someone to write the press release, you’re spending very little to have your local newspaper run the press release for you. If you’re having problems with the major newspaper, check with the weekend and “Around Town” papers.
The second benefit to creating a press release is the newspapers and other media outlets might decide to run spot pieces on the opening of your business. Look for local Facebook groups. There might be a Downtown Alliance or specialty group that promotes what is going on in the area. Connect with these groups and you’ll reap the rewards of advertising with them.
6. Email Marketing
Email marketing has been around for several decades now. It is the oldest form of Internet marketing around. It's taken the mantle of the old-fashioned mailer advertisement and run with it. The beauty of email marketing is it doesn't cost much, if anything at all, to run a successful campaign.
As people stop by your website, request an email address. Upon completing a purchase, your customers may provide an email address. However, beyond this, you can ask for an address in order to provide special discounts, keep them up to date on the latest news and so on.
With the help of a service like MailChimp, you can also collect email addresses and partition off different accounts into specific categories. This way, you can send different newsletters and information on products to varying demographics. All of this goes a long way in making it easier to connect with your customers and grow your business.
Sometimes the older marketing practices are still the best. This holds true for email marketing, so if you're not yet using email marketing, you should. Plus, consider combining email marketing with your referral programs. For example, Harry's (an online shaving service provider) amassed over 100,000 individuals on its email marketing list in under a week thanks to a great email marketing campaign and excellent referral program.
7. Sponsor Non-Profit Organizations
It may not seem like an instant marketing opportunity, but this is a great way to spread the word of your business, showcase your passion for the community and cut down on your year-end tax return at the same time.
Non-profit organizations are always looking for sponsors. Whether it is the local animal shelter, Boys & Girls Club or another organization altogether, these services often have very small budgets. Sponsoring these organizations is a great way to showcase your business. Perhaps you purchase uniforms for the club's youth sporting teams and have your business name on it. You can place your company information on different advertisements with the non-profit organization, just so others know who is sponsoring the organization.
By following through with this option, you're essentially utilizing a tax-deductible marketing approach that also builds goodwill for your business in the community. It is the only true marketing method that accomplishes these tasks at once. If you do have some marketing money at your disposal, consider using it with non-profit organizations. At the very least, you'll at least know you are putting money to a good cause that is important to you and your company.
Spreading the word about your business doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg. Yes, there are plenty of ways to go big with your marketing, but this only works for companies with major advertising budgets. As a smaller business or one that is just starting off, taking advantage of these seven cost-effective marketing campaigns will profit instant returns, often without spending a dime.
Tell Us –
What do you think is the best marketing method for businesses with a limited budget? Does your business have a referral program?