The key towards owning a successful business is having a great idea that’s fresh and exciting, but also working as hard as you can to turn that idea into reality. If you managed to do that you are definitely on the right track! Unfortunately, building a great team and having a great product does not guarantee people will find out about your service or product. As a small business with limited cash flow it’s kind of complicated to invest money on advertising, especially when you are just starting and new marketing strategies such as social media can get a little bit confusing.
Most people would think that having a marketing plan costs tens of thousands of dollars. Well, it doesn’t. Let’s say you only have 5000 dollars and you want to get the most out of every dollar spent, but you are not entirely sure how to invest this money. If that’s the case, here are a few things you can do for your business in order to get noticed and generate some buzz in your market:
Market research can help you understand your customers, get to know your competition and the people who are willing to pay for your product or service. First of all, you have to figure out where to focus your market investments and research is the best way to start. The best part when it comes to research is that it doesn’t cost you anything and it can be crucial in any marketing campaign.
A very important aspect of your research is finding a target audience, meaning that you have to establish what kind of people are most likely to buy the product or the service that you are trying to sell. Get in contact with people and determine which social media platform can be the most effective for your business promotion. This is definitely the best way to build a foundation for your campaign and it costs you nothing but time.
Another key to success in any business is having a clear understanding of your competition. You can start by using Google Trends and Google Alerts, in order to know what your competition is up to. It doesn’t matter if you think that your idea fills a unique gap in the market because you can always find other companies that offer similar products or services as you do.
But be careful, the intensity of the competition will affect the overall potential for success of your business. It is really important to know what your dealing with. It is one thing if you only have 3 companies as competitors, this way being easier to track everything they’re doing and do it better. But there’s a whole other thing if there are one hundred companies offering similar products as yours, in this situation being harder to keep track of your competition.
This is one of the more important steps of the process and it’s totally free.
Create a Website
Even if you’re not selling online services or products, which obviously requires a website, having one can represent an online business card, with information about the services that you offer.
According to a 2016 survey from Bright Local, the majority of people accessing a website are looking for the following, in this specific order:
- list of products/services
- opening/closing hours
- phone number
- price list
- physical address
- contact/email form
- map and driving directions
If you do a little research on small business websites, you will have the surprise of finding out that half of them do not have one. For the early stages of your business, there are some services that can give you a fully functional website and they cost as much as 20$ a month. Then later you can upgrade from a starter website to a service that offers professional design help. Take Wix for example, a platform that takes care of your domain name, hosting and also offers you a website builder. You can also always consider WordPress, which is one of the most popular platforms that people build their websites on.
Another aspect that you should consider, is to maintain a blog with helpful advice on the services and products that you offer, advice that might interest your customers. You can also post entertaining articles that are meant to keep your customers engaged and help you develop a relationship with them. You can start working on one such project by using WordPress, where you can use their free features and create a basic blog.
On average, if we consider that it costs less than $20 per month to maintain an website, that means that you don’t need more than approximately $250 in one year. Considering that your marketing campaign is on a budget, you shouldn’t pay for web design services; you can just create a basic design by yourself, with the tools made available by the platform that you’re using.
The social media universe can be an overwhelming place for small businesses. First of all, you should concentrate your promotion efforts on one or two platforms. This doesn’t mean you can’t have profiles on multiple social media platforms for your business, but when it comes to spending money, you should really think about which ones will get the best engagement.
You should consider the fact that different social media platforms work better for certain businesses. If you’re promoting a visually-based business, such as art, food or travel, you should concentrate on Instagram or Pinterest. If your promotion should be more informative rather than visual, you can focus on platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn. Once you figure out which platforms could work the best for your market, you can start promoting your best content with paid ads.
One of the best ways of doing that is by using Facebook paid ads. This marketing strategy offers more than direct sales, also being a great tool that helps you increase awareness and word of mouth advertising. Make sure you understand the difference between Facebook ads and boosted posts. Ads appear directly in users’ News Feeds, right alongside status updates, photos, and videos from their friends, so they are sometimes indistinguishable from regular posts. Boosted posts are a little less complex than Facebook ads. A boosted post is simply a regular Facebook post that you pay to reach a wider audience.
[bctt tweet=”If we’re talking numbers, Instagram is king in today’s social media.” username=”relevance”]
Instagram now boasts more than 500 million monthly active users and commands one of the highest audience engagement rates in social media. Instagram ads are visually-based ads. That means that if you business is more visually-based, you’re in luck, because Instagram gets much more engagement on their posts and ads than Facebook does.
When it comes to Twitter, it isn’t exactly the best place for marketing. Twitter is a viable network for organic engagement, where you don’t have to pay in order to reach your audience. A very common practice is to simply share on Twitter, what you’re actually promoting on other social media platforms.
This whole social media promotion doesn’t have to be expensive. Professionals recommend allocating only 50$ for testing the marketing vehicle and if everything works fine, then you can allocate between 5 and 10$ a day. It is very important to be consistent with your promotion, so customers won’t doubt your legitimacy. That doesn’t mean that you have to promote a post every single day, but even if you do it three times a week, you’re only going to spend $1,000 for social media marketing per year.
It might sound quite odd, given the fact that we live in the era of amazing tools and ways to promote your business, but plain old email marketing is still one of the best ways to invest your money. In fact, the return on investment that comes from email is more than you would think. It turns out that for every dollar spent on email marketing, business owners can expect to see an average return of roughly thirty-eight dollars. Think about some of the biggest providers for this kind of service, like MailChimp. This platform for example, is meant to help companies find their audience, engage their customers, and build their brand. Some other platforms that offer similar services are: Constant Contact, Emma, Aweber.
One thing that you should really keep in mind is to make sure you optimize your email campaign for different devices, so people will be able to read your emails from their smartphones, tablets or computers. Statistics show that 66% of emails in the US are read on smartphones, so if you don’t optimize your email campaigns to function across multiple devices, you will miss out on new sales and new customers.
With services like MailChimp, you can even start out with no money ( but with limited available features) and afterwards you can start spending not more than $10 per month. That brings your email marketing campaign to a total of $120 per year.
A gimmick is a marketing strategy designed to attract customers. In such a crowded marketplace, gimmicks can attract a lot of attention. Then you can find different strategies, like using limited special promotions, especially for a few days following major holidays, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. You can also think about doing a giveaway (offer one of your own products or services) that can really put a lot of people in touch with your business, given the fact that they have something to gain from it.
A very efficient way to get the attention of the public is by giving some money away. Members of the media and the public are more likely to pay attention to your product or service when they have something to gain from it. There are a lot of ways to invest your money and create some buzz in your market for as little as $1,000. For example, you can donate to charity or fund some scholarships for some randomly chosen people. A very good alternative would be to hold a contest and give an attractive prize like flying the winner somewhere, or host a dinner party with multiple winners.
[bctt tweet=”Our brain processes visuals 60,000x faster than text” username=”relevance”]
After you covered everything when it comes to the web and especially social media, it’s time to concentrate on the “real world” marketing. One of the best choices in advertising is to use a recurring ad in a local publication. The keyword is “recurring” and it refers to the fact that advertising something just one time won’t work, because you need to find the publication that could work best for your business.
You can do it the old way by using printed ads, or you can be creative and try radio ads or local TV ads. Even though many brands think print media and radio are dead, they can be very effective for small local businesses.
A common practice these days is attending special events or conferences. These conferences and conventions and trade shows related to your business definitely exist, you just have to find them. Being part of this kind of events can really raise awareness for you products and services, especially at a local level. Think about it, a lot of people will directly hear from you what you offer and how you offer it and this way, word-of-mouth advertising will be spread.You can create a more than decent local advertising plan for your small business for as little as $1,500 per year.
Micro-influencers are people who have a small following of 1,000-100,000 followers. Compared to a big celebrity, a micro-influencer can drive higher levels of engagement, and help you gain the trust of your target audience. Technology, web and social media are great strategies that can certainly boost your number of customers, but there will never be a more valuable form of marketing than word-of-mouth.
So go on and pick an online influencer! You can easily spot these people; they usually have their phone number and email listed somewhere on their page, so that makes it easy for you to approach them. The first place where you should look for these people is among your own lists of followers, especially on social media. If you are at the very beginning of your business branding and you don’t actually have a following of people, you can find micro-influencers by using relevant hashtags and keywords.
These people have influence over others through social media. Consumers will trust their favorite influencer in the same way they would trust a friend. So if an influencer is promoting a product or a service that you offer, part of his group of online followers can be your next customers.
But there’s another thing you can do, that’s similar. Pick a person from your loyal customers and turn them into your brand advocates. The best brand advocates for your business could be those who really take interest in your services and products, people that usually buy and use what you sell.
The average influencer charges approximately $100 per post, depending on how big is their following. If you promote a post every month, this marketing strategy shouldn’t cost more than $1,200 in one year.
Create Video Content
[bctt tweet=”You’re 53 times more likely to show up first in Google if you have a video embedded on your website.” username=”relevance”]
In the generation of social media, people are more likely to watch a video than to read your written content. Video content can be very valuable and while it can cost lots of money to get professional videos produced, you can always do it yourself. Some basic equipment and editing software are really all you need to get started. You don’t want to overproduce the video or spend too much money on actors or sets. You can create great video content for free if you can use a little bit of software and have some basic knowledge about how to film a video. Just put yourself and your team in front of a camera and try to sell your product or service in the most convincing way. If you’re doing it the right way, it can give you a great opening to lots of followers and new customers.
It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is, your business will only thrive if consumers are aware of its existence. As a small business owner it can get quite difficult to decide where to spend your money and how to get the best out of that spending, but it is very possible to develop an efficient marketing campaign by spending as little as $5,000.
If we consider that it doesn’t take more than one year to grow your business and put your name on your map, and we add all the numbers, the situation looks like this: $250 for the website, $1,000 for social media, $120 for email marketing, $1,000 for media, $1,500 for local advertising and $1,200 for micro-influencers. That brings us to a total of $5,070, which is almost the exact amount that we have estimated.
The best strategies for landing new customers for your business can include digital, mobile and traditional media and you can get the best of them all for not as much money as you would think. The most important thing that you should keep in mind is that marketing doesn’t have to lead you to bankruptcy, given the fact that these simple efforts can rapidly increase your sales and success.