Many small businesses today are operating on shoestring budgets. Is yours in the same boat?
Trying to grow a business on a very small budget can be challenging, but it is far from impossible.
Take Chip and Joanna Gaines for example! Jo started out with a dream for a tiny home décor shop. When first starting out, she had no idea if there would be enough interest or if she would make enough profit to keep it open for a week. Now, here they are 15+ years later, with one of the most well-known home décor, design, and renovation businesses in the United States. How did that happen?
Well, you’ll have to ask them for the whole story, but part of the reason their business expanded on such a monumental scale was through marketing.
Marketing = Making Connections
Marketing goes beyond what we think of when we hear the word. It’s more than commercials, brochures, radio spots, videos, professionally photographed ads, and things of that nature.
Marketing is about making connections and building relationships with people who are excited about your business. It’s about building a brand and a reputation that your customers believe in and want to share with their friends.
Oh, and here’s the best part: marketing doesn’t have to cost a fortune! All it takes is a team with some creative ideas and a bit of hard work.
Here are ten tips to help you market your small business on a budget.
10 Budget-Conscious Marketing Tips
- Create Social Media Profiles
- Get Started with Email Marketing
- Make Sure Your Brand is Consistent on Third-Party Sites
- Repurpose Old Content or Ideas
- Start a Blog
- Apply for Local Business Awards
- Start Posting Videos
- Update Your Website
- Engage with Your Community
- Join a Networking Group
TIP ONE: Create Social Media Profiles
Social media is an outstanding marketing tool you can leverage for your business at little to no cost.
A good rule of thumb is to start by focusing on the platforms your customers are most likely to use. This gives you the best chance of engaging with them right away. Be sure to include key information about your business in your profile, including:
- Your business hours
- Address and phone number
- A link to your website
- Some brief info about your business and the products/services you offer
- Photos of your logo, products, services, building, etc.
On Facebook, Magnolia does a great job of showing exactly what they’re about and how customers can get in contact with them.
And while you're in the business of creating pages, don't forget to create or update your free Google My Business Account. Claiming your page and keeping it updated will help customers find you fast!
TIP TWO: Get Started with Email Marketing
Email marketing certainly isn't a new concept, but it is one of the most effective ways to reach your audience. To achieve the highest return on your investment when it comes to email, you'll need to sit down with your team or a dry erase board to brainstorm some creative email ideas. Here are some tips from WordStream to help you get started:
- Put thought and creativity into your subject lines.
- Make sure every email has an offer that encourages your readers to take the next step.
- Track your performance and run A/B tests to see what copy and offers resonate with your list.
- Get new website visitors to sign up for your newsletter by offering a bonus content piece or coupon/discount for subscribing.
- Slowly nurture your subscribers via email until they are ready to become paying customers.
Don't worry, we didn't forget about the overarching theme of this post: low-budget marketing tactics! There are free email marketing services you can use. Try starting out with a platform like MailChimp and see how you like it!
TIP THREE: Make Sure Your Brand is Consistent on Third-Party Sites
Your company information may be available on many websites, depending on the nature of your business. Take some time to read through your information on third-party websites to make sure it is consistent and accurate across every page.
Examples of some sites that may display your information include:
- Yelp, TripAdvisor, HomeAdvisor, OpenTable, etc.
- Your local city or chamber of commerce website
- Vendor or partner websites
As we mentioned before, you can also create a business profile on Google My Business and manage it for free. Since many of your customers will turn to Google to find a business like yours, this tool is truly invaluable!
TIP FOUR: Repurpose Old Content or Ideas
It’s likely that most of the customers you serve today are not the same people you served three years ago. Maybe there’s some mix of old and new, but that just means you’ve done a great job building a loyal customer base!
Pat yourself on the back and then consider this: repurpose content you have used in the past for today’s customers. You can take old articles, website pages, photos, and more, update them with new stats or information, and publish them again. It's a quick way to get your name out there in front of your customers!
TIP FIVE: Start a Blog!
Did you read the last tip and think, "What if I don't have any content to repurpose?" Not to worry! That just means it’s time to grab the dry erase board and craft some new ideas.
Stretch those literary muscles and start a blog for your business. Your blog can focus on anything you want, as long as it is something your customers will want to read.
For example, Content Marketing Institute is a company focused on 'advancing the practice of content marketing' by providing helpful resources and industry-leading insight. Their blog is diligently maintained and jam-packed with thousands of posts and tips for marketing professionals. (You can definitely find some marketing tips there to help your small business!)
TIP SIX: Apply for Local Business Awards
Most industries, cities, or regions offer some sort of award your business can apply to win. There are awards for everything from outstanding customer service to top workplace, best new product, and many more.
Do some research on the awards available for your industry or locality. You or a member of your team can nominate your business for the award, and see what happens! Even if you don't win, your business might receive an honorable mention which usually comes with (you guessed it) free marketing.
Not sure where to start looking? A simple Google search might be enough, or you can try visiting your local small business association or chamber of commerce website.
TIP SEVEN: Start Posting Videos
Today’s customers are more interested in supporting businesses that provide an excellent experience, not just a great product.
One of the ways you can provide a great experience for your customers is by offering video content related to your product or service. For example, if you own a hardware store, consider creating how-to videos to help buyers with their home improvement projects. (Home Depot does a great job with this!)
With today's high-quality smartphone cameras, anyone can be a video creator. Here are some examples (from WordStream) of videos you can create that tend to resonate with audiences:
- Instructional videos and how-tos
- Product demos
- Behind-the-scenes coverage of what it's like to work at your business
- Interviews with your staff or industry experts
- Slideshows with images and captions
Keep in mind: your videos don't have to be lengthy, they just have to provide helpful, human information. Once you have your videos created, don't forget to post them on your website and social media pages. You can also include them in your email marketing!
TIP EIGHT: Update Your Website
Remember earlier when we mentioned keeping those third-party websites updated? Don’t forget to do the same with your own website!
Your website is your most essential marketing tool. Keep it updated with any changes to your hours, product or service offering, health & safety practices, and the video or blog content you create.
TIP NINE: Engage with Your Community
Especially if you're running a small, local business, don't forget to engage with your community! You can easily use social media as a tool to show your support. Here are some ideas:
- Purchase your produce from a local farmer’s market and tag them on social media to say thank you!
- Donate food or supplies to your local humane society and encourage your followers to support them as well.
- Volunteer your time helping to pick up litter in your neighborhood.
- Post social media shoutouts for your local vendors and encourage others to support them as well.
There are many more ways to show your support for the community and other businesses in your area. Even these small things will not go unnoticed by your customers and can help draw them closer to your brand.
Pro tip: Use event hashtags if you're participating in a specific event, and don't forget to tag the businesses you're supporting!
TIP TEN: Join a Networking Group
Another great way to get the word out about your business is to join a local networking group.
This could be an online community on Facebook or even your local Chamber of Commerce. This is a fast, easy, and often free way to make connections in your local community.
We hope you find these tips helpful as you move forward with marketing your small business.
For more tips and resources, check out these blog posts: