How Small Businesses Can Do Digital Marketing on A Shoestring Budget
by Guest Author
For many small businesses and startups, digital marketing can be effective while staying well within a small (or virtually nonexistent) budget. That doesn’t mean that it’s not a challenge. Often enough, finding ways to make your digital marketing efforts fit into your budget will take more time than putting your campaigns together. So, for you to maximize your time and effort, here is a list of the best ways to make the most of a shoestring digital marketing budget:
Before you do anything- send another tweet, put out an app or update your blog- remember to do your research. There’s nothing worse than wasting your efforts because you skipped this crucial step. Know your competition. What’s working for them and what can you do better? What do your customers love about your products? That should be what you focus on, not whatever you decide is the most important.
Now that you know what you can do to move forward, what if things don’t go as planned? Part of marketing effectively is minimizing the negative. That can include figuring out the best way to deal with customer service issues or how you deal with a run of product that wasn’t up to your regular production standards. Coming up with these scripts and protocols ahead of time will make sure your decisions in the event of these events are informed and not made spur-of-the-moment.
Choose Value and Prioritize
Some things are worth making room in your marketing budget for. Yes, this article is about making the most of a shoestring budget, but that doesn’t mean you should be cheap when it comes to critical parts of your strategy. Anything that’s static or you plan to keep for a long time- a logo, your website layout, your about page- these are things you need to give priority when you can.
Make a Deal or Partner Up
The easiest way to get free digital advertising and more people to view your products and services is by reaching out to other businesses, blogs, and websites with a mutually beneficial offer. Your offer can be to write a free, high-quality guest post, swap ads (or guest posts), sponsor a contest, give an exclusive offer to the readers of an individual publication, etc. The key to success is finding partners with an audience of people that would be likely to purchase your products and services.
Take Advantage of Free
When all you have is a shoestring budget to market your small business, you may already know that there are ways to get free advertising credits when you sign up for a service. In fact, as of this writing, Yelp, Facebook, Amazon, and Google Ads are all offering between $50 and $300 worth of free advertising credits just for signing up and trying out their services.
The thing to keep in mind is that these credits are typically offered to new users because their initial campaigns are usually only minimally effective. However, if you pay attention to what your competition is doing and are at least familiar with the basics of building successful social media or in-context ads, your chances of running a profitable campaign on free credit increases dramatically.
Try New Channels
If your business is visible in more places, you have a better chance of attracting more customers. In general, this means that you could try different formats. If you are based online, this means video, podcasts, books, and blogs. Have a local, brick and mortar location? Try fliers in high-traffic areas such as libraries and grocery-store billboards or any place your target customers might frequent.
When trying a new marketing channel, it’s important not to overbook yourself. All of your efforts going in a hundred different directions isn’t going to get you anywhere. Try to stick with one main blog, channel, or podcast that’s built around your business and then be a guest in other formats while pointing people toward your mainstay.
Your company’s mobile presence shouldn’t be ignored either. If you don’t have an app yet, find out how to build an app for an affordable price. Not only that but you should optimize your website’s mobile version and make sure that it’s user-friendly. These days a purchase, food order, or appointment, is just as likely to be scheduled online or through an app like any other channel. If that isn’t an option for your customers, they may choose to go somewhere that offers more convenient options.
Hundreds of businesses that are successful today wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for social media marketing. This is another perfect opportunity to offer mutually beneficial promotions if you find that strategy working well for you. It can also provide a persuasive form of social proof.
To make the most of your social media accounts remember to give more value than just a string of your promotions. These channels are also there to provide customer support, awareness of resources (such as additional tutorials or support via a blog, etc.) and, dependent upon your brand image, facts or entertainment. Finally, remember to include relevant images in your posts as often as possible. Here is a social media marketing strategy that can help.
Use the News
Many small businesses neglect to consider press releases as part of their online marketing strategy. The process, at first glance, may seem formal, confusing, and antiquated. Only one of those things holds true today. A few successful press releases can give you the advantage of sharing accurate information with journalists and news organizations. If you include relevant and embedded pictures or videos in your press release, that content will increase your engagement by 18% and 55% respectively.
That means more media outlets may pick up your press release and more readers will be exposed to it. This is especially beneficial if a large part of your marketing strategy is local or based on acquiring social proof or clout. Press releases are not a great strategy for SEO as the press releases are syndicated and can be taken down at any time.
Narrow Your Focus
By now you may realize that there are more budget-friendly options than you could ever hope to take advantage of. That’s why knowing your customer is so important. Depending on your business type, your client may prefer a marketing avenue over another. For authors, Facebook, Amazon, and BookBub are their top priority. Fashion brands might get the most traction on Pinterest, Twitter, and Etsy. Businesses that sell a service may find the most success with podcasts and videos demonstrating their skill.
Make the Most of What You Have
No matter how you choose to bring in new customers, your homepage, sales page, customer service, or storefront is what ultimately convinces them to choose you over the competition. Making the most of these assets should hover at the top of your list at all times. Know what your strengths are and lean into them.
Connecting with your customers through social media, your customer support channels, and even using a mobile app can lead to lasting success. When a client feels that your business gets them, they are likely to tell everyone they know at the first opportunity. They’ll be the first ones to defend your brand, too, on social media and otherwise. No, you can’t win over everyone- some potential customers won’t click with your brand. Don’t waste your time trying to get them back. To make the most of your resources, only focus on attracting the right people.
Andrew Gazdecki is the founder and CEO of Bizness Apps — Bizness Apps creates mobile solutions suited for local businesses with small budgets and big ideas. We create the ultimate customer connection through mobile apps that create a digital connection to your customer’s mobile phones for commerce, loyalty, reviews, referrals, communication, and more.
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September 3, 2017