Small business owners understand how important marketing is to grow a business. But the cost of promoting your company when you are just starting out can be frightening. What can you do if you don’t have a big advertising budget?
The good news is you can use a shoestring budget because marketing is not all about spending money on fancy campaigns or pay per click programs. Creative ideas and a “can-do” attitude can go a long way in promoting your business without spending a truckload of cash.
Here are four things that have helped me while running my small business.
If you are starting a new business or running one, the place to begin is to verify the demand for your product and understand who your target market is. It’s too easy for small business owners to overlook this fundamental step because we get super excited over our products and think everyone else will too. Take a step back and do yourself a favor. Ask yourself what need your product or service satisfies. Next, look closer at who your ideal customers are, and what kind of marketing would appeal to them.
Sometimes the best marketing ideas come from other people. Invite friends, neighbors or others who are interested in what you provide for an evening of fun and brainstorming. Ask them what kind of marketing would capture their interest and influence them to buy your product or service and then let the ideas roll. List every idea no matter how crazy. After all, you can choose the ones that have the greatest potential and reflect the personality of your brand.
Time Is On Your Side
One of the first things I learned as a small business owner was that although I didn’t have much money, I did have time. It was a genuine revelation to understand that I could use the time I had to be creative and to learn how to use social media to create interest and a following for my company. I had the time, the passion, and of course the motivation to work with these free platforms and it really helped get people engaged with my brand and to influence others to check us out.
Know Your ROI
Small business owners get bombarded with offers for advertising services, e-marketing programs, direct mail campaigns, PPC, and other forms of marketing. It can be overwhelming. I find the best strategy is to work out your costs so you understand exactly how much revenue a marketing program has to generate in order to cover the costs of investing in it and make a little profit. If the number is unrealistic, I turn down the offer no matter how enticing it looks. We have to make decisions that allow us to earn a cost-effective return on our investments so we can grow.
Marketing doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Challenge yourself. Open your mind to inexpensive marketing solutions rather than falling for high-cost, low-return marketing programs. You can generate a lot of free PR using social media, doing presentations and in person promotions at various events. Consider getting involved in community projects which demonstrate goodwill and get your brand known. Also think about creating educational articles, videos and books that will add to your reputation as an authority in your field. It can be exciting to see what kind of traction you can get without spending a dime.