Unlike large corporations with tons of marketing cash, small businesses don’t usually have the luxury to overindulge on marketing. Many small business owners are often torn between spending the little working capital they have on a short, flashy marketing campaign with immediate effects or spreading out the cash on a longer-lasting marketing campaign that will hopefully have an impact later on.
While both of these strategies may work for some businesses, the trick lies in finding the sweet spot between the two approaches. Low-budget marketing campaigns do not have to mean one-time glossy brochures and business cards, one print ad in the local newspaper, or an expensive website that will burn through your marketing budget in days or weeks. It also doesn’t mean going for a single marketing channel and sticking with it just because of your limited marketing budget.
There are plenty of ways small business owners can leverage their small marketing budgets for maximum impact. Check out some of the most effective marketing strategies for busy, small business managers.
1. Double down on social media
Social media has evolved into one of the most potent marketing tools for businesses. In 2016, over half of B2B and B2C businesses used social media to generate leads, reduce marketing expenses, improve sales, and grow business partnerships. Apart from the fact that you can post content for free, most social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are cheaper than Google and Twitter advertising, which makes it a great option for small-budget marketing campaigns.
Still, many small businesses struggle to make social media work for their marketing campaigns. They often lack the knowledge and tools to help them capitalize on opportunities presented by social media.
To make it work for your small business, start by identifying your customer base and optimizing your campaigns based on where your customers are most likely to be found. For instance, photography or interior design businesses will benefit immensely from platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest that are more image-based.
2. Don’t shy away from print marketing
In a fast-moving digital world, it’s easy to forget about all the opportunities presented by print media. Even though many facets of traditional print media are fast fading away, it doesn’t necessarily mean small businesses should strike out print marketing from their marketing campaigns. With a few tweaks, print can still be an integral part of your small-budget marketing campaign.
One effective method involves merging print with an aspect of digital media. For instance, you can use QR codes in physical brochures, promotional or transactional (e.g. invoices, service notices) mail that would lead your customers to your website or social media page. QR codes can also be a time-saving – and cheap – way of measuring the effectiveness of your campaigns.
In all, always remember to customize your print marketing strategy to enhance customer experience. Use things like personalized postcards, high-quality texture and color, packaging, and the art of storytelling on your print marketing strategy to drive engagement on a budget.
3. Collaborate with like-minded businesses
Small business owners can save tons of marketing cash by teaming up with other small businesses within the same industry. This trend is quite common in the retail industry where businesses freely share customers. For instance, one business might leave their coupons, brochures, and other marketing materials in another business’ premises and vice versa. As long as the businesses are not direct competitors, this is one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies for small businesses.
Small business owners can also save time and money on marketing by smartly drawing inspiration for their marketing plans from other businesses. For a long time, companies like Creative Over and a few others have ridden on Walmart’s expensive analytics-based marketing plan to gain new customers. By following Walmart around, such businesses gain new customers in areas that would’ve been impossible to penetrate without expensive and time-consuming market analyses.
4. Use promotional campaigns
Discounts and promotional campaigns are the fastest and cheapest ways of getting leads, converting them to customers, and establishing brand loyalty. When implemented correctly, promotions can help transform small businesses with limited marketing resources.
To illustrate the potential for promos and discount campaigns, about 96% of shoppers searched for coupons from their mobile devices in 2015 before making a purchasing decision. Additionally, online coupons are ten times more likely to be redeemed compared with print/offline coupons.
Still, despite the many benefits offered by promos, getting it wrong can be disastrous for your small business. Therefore, always incorporate best practices when designing and implementing your promotional campaign. Start by setting specific goals before launching a promo campaign. This will help you stay level-headed through the ups and downs of the campaign.
Then, identify and describe your target audience so that your promo campaign is customized to their needs. You should also remember to put an expiration date on your discount and coupon codes. Customers will be more likely to buy your product or service when offers are only available for a limited time.
To get an idea of the kind of promotional campaigns that are out there for small businesses, check out sites such as RetailMeNot and ClothingRIC that often feature promos from different businesses. Such platforms are also effective for marketing your own promotional campaigns – another crucial aspect of successful sales promotions.
5. Build a solid referral program
Referrals are another key area for small business owners looking to save time and money on marketing. There is nothing more powerful than a happy customer telling their family and friends about your business. In fact, a 2016 study by Nielsen revealed that over 80% of American consumers ask family and friends about a product or service before making a purchase. The study also revealed that about 67% of consumers are more likely to buy something that a family or friend has shared via email or social media.
Referral programs don’t have to be complex – but they do have to be organized. Clearly communicate what your customers will be getting – cash, promo codes or otherwise – in exchange for referrals. This will help you spend less time sorting out the confusion and more time dealing with your customers.
Even with big marketing budgets, businesses may still struggle to create the desired impact. These few strategies will help small business owners create and implement impactful marketing strategies while leaving enough time for them to tend to their businesses. At the end of the day, it’s all about allotting your business resources to the most effective channels for maximum ROI.Business & Finance Articles on Business 2 Community