Whether you’re a small startup or an established small business, knowing how to market your business is vital to its success.
If you’re worried that all effective marketing has to be expensive, let us reassure you – it doesn’t have to be.
There are plenty of terrific opportunities to earn customers while staying within a small business marketing budget.
Try these inexpensive marketing tactics to get you started.
6 proven low-budget marketing ideas
1. Develop a marketing strategy
Marketing is the lifeline that helps your small business to reach and connect with your audience.
And, it’s ultimately the driving factor in long-term growth.
For your business to grow, it must be seen.
But, you can’t market your business effectively without a strong marketing plan. You can’t fire blindly and hope for the best. That’s how you’ll end up spending lots of money and get little value for what you spent.
You need a marketing plan that lays out your goals and a clear strategy.
And, if you’re just starting a business, this is the perfect time to build your marketing plan. In fact, as you write a business plan, your marketing strategy will be one of the core topics you’ll research and include in your plan.
If you already have an established business but struggling to grow it, this is your chance to put your business back on a strong path to success.
A strong marketing strategy should:
- Build on your company’s brand identity by answering the “who” and “what” questions of your business.
- Think holistically to engage both new and existing customers.
- Establish a digital presence and prioritize a professionally designed website, blog, and social media presence.
- Create high-quality content that is useful, relevant, and actionable.
- Generate and convert new leads consistently.
Take the time to develop a strategy that can be accomplished with the time and money that you have available. There are many strong low-cost marketing tactics that can be executed on a shoestring budget.
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2. Create a company blog
If you have a company blog, you already know it’s good for business.
If your company doesn’t have a blog, you’re missing out on leads, sales, and other valuable benefits.
When planned well, blogging can:
- Boost SEO: Search engines gravitate toward fresh and valuable content.
- Drive traffic to your website: This traffic then turns into leads and new customers.
- Establish authority: Your company’s expertise positions you as subject matter experts.
- Connect you to clients: Blogging gives you a space to connect with seasoned, new, and potential customers all at once.
You can launch a blog for your business with very little money. And, it’s relatively simple to do. You’ll need to decide on a name, a blog design, and the best platform to host your blog. Then write about what you know best.
Your content must be high-quality
Strong blog content will build trust, brand awareness, and convert leads to customers. Weak content only takes slightly less time to create but will yield none of the benefits.
Aim for your content to be:
- Relevant: By focusing content on brands, projects, services, or needs that relate to your business, you’ll yield maximum results.
- Valuable: Your content is valuable when it teaches its audience how to do something, helps them to make a decision, or fixes a problem. Such content will position you as a subject matter authority and inspire loyalty to your brand.
- Consistent: Prospects will show up when you are consistent. If you show up consistently, they will too.
Develop a blogging strategy for your company as soon as possible, and begin reaping the rewards it offers. For more insights, take a look at our comprehensive content marketing guide.
3. Capture and hold attention with video
Video marketing isn’t new. Marketers have used video successfully on blogs, websites, and social media for years.
What has changed, however, is how important video has become.
Viewers today consume video content for longer periods of time than other forms of online marketing.
And, while video can be wildly effective, it can also be expensive.
But, there are ways to create great video at a reasonable cost. Here are three tips to help you produce effective video content without breaking the bank:
- Go live: Use Facebook and Instagram live feeds to share videos using your webcam or smartphone. Viewers can immediately like and share your content, driving immediate traffic to you. Be sure to save, though, or you won’t reap the long-term benefits!
- Be the teacher: Position yourself as a subject matter expert by offering live webinars. Save the webinars and promote them via social media or as gated lead generation content that you can deliver via email.
- Keep it short: You’re passionate about your content, we know! Keeping your videos short is the best strategy. There are varying studies over how long a marketing video should be, but the consensus is that engagement starts to lessen around the two-minute mark.
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4. Engage in social media
No one could have predicted the effect social media would have on the world.
It is estimated that there are 3.8 billion active social media users, which is quite an evolution from the early 2000s when social networks first took off.
Social media marketing is a cost-effective way to harness all the social media buzz into quantifiable marketing leads.
This methodology works because it meets your customers where they’re at – a move that pays off big.
Invest your time in the right platform
The question is never if you should do marketing with social media, but instead, which platforms make the most sense for your business.
After all, social media platforms are not created equal. What works for a millennial-centric art studio may not be effective for a real estate firm.
As we previously wrote,
Your business goals will help to determine what platforms will be the best fit for you.
Here are some of the most popular social media platforms you might want to consider:
- Facebook- allows you to post longer text-based content as well as infographics, gifs, photos, and video.
- Twitter – short text posts (280 characters or less) and images, gifs, and video.
- Instagram – a mobile platform for sharing photos and videos, and Instagram Stories.
- Linkedin – a networking website for professionals, can post written articles, infographics, and video.
- Pinterest – a photo-based SM network used to research and organize images that often link to link to longer content.
Develop a social media marketing plan
- Set goals: set social marketing goals that make sense for your business. We love this visual from Hootsuite:
- Know your customer: Which platforms are they on? What times are they most active? What type of social influencing is most effective?
- Research your competition: Determine which social networks their customers are on, and the type of content that appeals to those customers.
- Set-up: Register and set up your social media platforms.
- Audit: Consistently audit what is working and what is not. (This is where those metrics in the illustration above come in handy!)
When done well, social media marketing will generate leads and revenue while being very easy on the budget.
Develop a plan. But, remain flexible. You may need to adapt your plan as your customer’s preferences and buying patterns change.
5. Invest in a professional website
Once upon a time, just having a business website was enough.
But, that’s no longer the case.
Today, clients expect an interactive, well-designed, easy-to-navigate website experience. And you don’t want to disappoint them.
A custom business website can do more for your business’s online marketing than any other digital marketing strategy.
Consider these important statistics:
- 94% of first impressions on your website are design-related.
- A recent Stanford report found that 75% of people judge the success of a business based on how their website looks.
- 38% of users will stop engaging in a website if the layout or content is not attractive.
Setting up your website can seem daunting; but, it’s not as hard as you might think.
Your website design matters – keep it simple
We can’t emphasize enough the importance of good website design.
With that in mind, even if your business is complex, your website design shouldn’t be.
Digital marketing expert Neil Patel points out:
Far too often I see websites try to jam too much information into a very small space. The navigation is confusing, and it’s overwhelming for anyone viewing the site. If this is starting to sound like the layout of your website, it could be the reason why your conversion rates are unsatisfactory. Even if you don’t think your design is too cluttered, there’s always room for improvement.
Professional web design is worth the cost – and it’s less than you think
You get it. Your website is really important. But you find yourself grimacing about the potential costs.
You’re not alone, by the way. Most business owners worry about the cost of website design.
But, take a deep breath – you can afford to have an on-brand, revenue-generating website regardless of your budget. Custom website design doesn’t have to cost tens of thousands of dollars. For example, crowdspring projects for professional website design start at just $899.
Your website is one of your most valuable marketing tools. It continues working for your business even when you’re sleeping. So, make it the priority it deserves.
6. Get involved in your community
We’ve already touched on the importance of finding your clients online; but, don’t forget the value of local support.
It doesn’t take a massive marketing budget to communicate with your local community.
But it can have a massive payout.
Community involvement can:
- Increase brand recognition.
- Boost your brand reputation.
- Help you learn more about your client base.
Consumers are more likely to choose your business if they know who you are. And, community involvement can add an extra layer of trust to that brand awareness.
Potential customers are more likely to choose a company that invests in their local community than a competitor that does not.
How can I introduce my business to my community?
- Host an informational event: Block party anyone? Host an event to introduce yourself and what you offer to your community.
- Take on speaking engagements: Share your expertise with the community. Your knowledge can benefit them and position you as a subject matter expert.
- Apply for local business awards: Business awards are a great way to build brand awareness and credibility.
- Give back: What can your business do for the community, which also can generate positive PR buzz?
Your community will support your business, once they know you exist. Take some time to get to know your local audience, and find meaningful ways to engage with your community.
There’re no low-cost, magical marketing secrets that fit every business.
Marketing on a budget takes effort, ingenuity, and constant testing to see what “sticks.” Start with these 6 budget-friendly marketing ideas.
With perseverance and a little creativity, it can be done – and done well.
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