5 Local Marketing Ideas for Small Budgets That Are Guaranteed To Make a Big Splash

June 25, 2015
Business 101 – How to get through your first year in business!

The answer to that question is fairly simple. You get through your first year in business with a comprehensive business plan and a lot of sweat and hard work!

There IS no magic bullet, no secret sauce, no short-cut to being successful in business.

It all starts with a solid plan and great work ethic. You can not get something for nothing. Really. If that’s your plan, you’ll fail. Yup. You’ll fail in no time; no need to even put in the full first year if you think you can start a business and not have to work, hustle and spend a lot of time dedicated to growing and nurturing it.

Even Small Businesses Should Have a Marketing Budget

If you recently opened a small, local business you have probably already spent money on

  • business planning or consulting
  • location (rent or mortgage)
  • utilities
  • furniture and fixtures
  • inventory
  • personnel hires
  • uniforms
  • security
  • lawyer’s fees

How about marketing? Have you budgeted for

  • web design
  • graphic design (logo)
  • printed marketing materials
  • photo shoots
  • video marketing
  • advertising budget (newspaper, direct marketing, radio, TV, Social Media)
  • social media
  • marketing director, marketing training or outsourcing

If you did, give yourself a pat on the back! Well done.

However, my experience tells me that a lot of small local businesses do not have enough money for marketing, because they failed to include many of the items on this list. Some small businesses fail to plan at all.

Now you are probably wondering what business owner would start a business without a proper marketing budget? Let’s just say ‘many’ covers most of it.

I’ve seen

  • Local
  • Small business
  • Solo-preneurs
  • Freelancers
  • Stores and Boutiques
  • Restaurants

and in many different industries!

I have met several business owners who have not added a substantial marketing budget to their business plan and when they run into trouble they call me thinking that jumping on social media is the ‘cheapest option’ for quick results!

Not. So. Much

What percentage of your total budget should you spend on marketing?

In ‘How to Set a Marketing Budget that Fits your Business Goals and Provides a High Return on Investment’ by the SBA we read

Products and services don’t sell themselves. By ignoring marketing until it’s too late, many small businesses risk hitting a brick wall and, quite possibly, failing. A hip and trendy product line shouldn’t rely solely on ongoing product investment and word of mouth.

I sincerely hope that this situation does not describe you!
If it is, keep reading because even with a very small and limited budget, there are things you can do right away!
If you are reading this in planning your business, take note:

Planning ahead and creating a marketing budget becomes a must-do for anyone even thinking about starting a business!

The writer of the aforementioned article suggests

As a general rule, small businesses with revenues less than $ 5 million should allocate 7-8 percent of their revenues to marketing. This budget should be split between 1) brand development costs (which includes all the channels you use to promote your brand such as your website, blogs, sales collateral, etc.), and 2) the costs of promoting your business(campaigns, advertising, events, etc.)

Does this sound about right to you? Is this what you’d expect?

What if you’ve failed to add enough money to your marketing budget this year?

The best thing to do would be to revisit your overall business budget and find out where you can come up with money to add to your marketing budget right away. This might include cutting store hours, renegotiating a lease or taking on an additional business loan.

However, if these are not logical solutions for your particular situation, here are several ideas that can get you started, marketing your local business to local customers, without a huge budget.

Here are…

5 local marketing ideas for small budgets (and small businesses) guaranteed to make a big splash

5 Local Marketing Ideas for Small Budgets That Are Guaranteed To Make a Big Splash

1. FB advertising

For as little as $ 2-5 day, you can utilize Facebook to drive traffic to your website, get more Facebook likes, and more Facebook engagement and market your local business on a shoestring. If your budget is this low, and your financial resources are very limited, make sure to connect with Jon Loomer. I consider him the Facebook Advertising expert.

Facebook advertising is a great, cheap way to get started with marketing without spending a whole lot of money, but this does require your time; both for learning more about the ins and outs of Facebook, Facebook advertising as well as placing and monitoring the ads!

2. Live Events

Whether you host an event (you can do this rather cheap if you use your own location) like an open house, or attend a live event, make sure to make the most of your time and use this event to ‘market’ yourself and your business! There are several ways to do this. Always ask for business cards (after you’ve struck up a conversation) so you can connect with that person on LinkedIn afterwards. Take pictures, especially group pictures; tag your friends and your business and you’ll get a much larger reach than you would without tagging. Use your ‘elevator speech’ to get to the point, but be sure to listen more than you speak; look for opportunities to help someone out by referring a client or an opportunity. This type of relationship marketing is free and can yield great results.

Live events are a great place to connect offline with real people. Further these new connections by connecting with them online after the event, building a lasting online relationship.

3. Charity Involvement

A great way to connect with local customers and at the local community is to get involved in the local community. Sound simple right? Yet many local small business owners do not take the time to get involved. They might donate gift certificates or money to local charity events, both great ways to support a local community, however the real power lies in giving your time. Examples: Instead of donating cases of water to a local race, donate water and man the table during the race! Instead of supporting a local PTA by donating a gift certificate to a raffle, offer to sell some tickets and show up for the event. Instead of donating items for a goodie bag for a golf tournament, play in the tournament! By attending and supporting a charity with your time, you create a real connection. As a social media manager, I do use these volunteer hours as marketing opportunity by highlighting the charity on social media (tagging and promoting the event) and taking pictures. These pictures tell a powerful story; it’s social proof that your business is involved with the local community.

Charity involvement can take your business from being an newcomer to the community to being an active participant in making the community a better place to live for all. It’s a powerful strategy to get your brand name out there and it’s virtually free!

4. Speaking

What makes you the expert in your line of business? What stories can you tell? What can you teach others about being in business? Once you figure out what it is you have to offer to your (potential) audience, find local networking groups and offer to be a speaker. This includes local Chambers of Commerce, the Rotary Clubs, industry-specific associations and more. Prepare a speech and have your business cards handy, however, don’t ever use your allotted time to market a specific service or product. Instead, use it to teach, share tips and provide value! Don’t forget to connect with the media! You might be able to be a resource for them on trending stories in your industry and speak on camera.

Speaking to local networking groups and associations helps build up your reputation and your brand. The most important thing it will do though, is build trust with local business owners and professionals and give you influence. Giving something for nothing, giving back to the community by sharing your knowledge is a very powerful marketing tool.

5. Collaboration and Cross-Promotion

There is another great way marketing without breaking the bank; team up with another local business owner who has the same target audience (women, golfers, tourists, millennials, teens, etc.) and cross promote – offline as well as online! Whether you team up for an event, a sponsorship, sharing printed materials, share each other’s social media content or use a referral system, working with other local businesses is just good business and can save you money, lots of money. It also increases your reach online and offline; their clients and customers become your potential clients and customers, instantly!

Collaboration and cross-promoting are two strategies that will help elevate your online and offline profiles and will increase your overall reach.

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