Small businesses face a lot of challenges, not least of which is figuring out how to make every dollar stretch as far as it can. Desperate to make every dollar do the work of ten, many small business owners end up taking drastic cost-cutting measures, including cutting the marketing budget. This is often the start of a death spiral, as reducing or eliminating marketing reduces revenue, which in turn forces the business to make further cuts. Fortunately, effective marketing does not really have to cost a lot. There are a lot of marketing strategies that can get the job done cheaply and effectively.
Many small business owners end up taking drastic cost cutting measures, including cutting the marketing budget. This is often the start of a death spiral.
1. Referral System
One of the cheapest forms of marketing is to get your customers to help you with it. Even in this age of online reviews, people still rely heavily on personal referrals from people they know to make purchase decisions. You can offer customers discounts for referring new customers. The beauty of this arrangement is that you get the most bang for your marketing buck: you’re only paying for successful conversions. The key to success with this method is to make sure your customers are aware of your program and that the reward is high enough to get them to actually make referrals.
2. Content Marketing
Content marketing is probably the least expensive form of marketing you can do. Mostly all it costs is time. The idea with content marketing is to build your brand reputation by building up a community of people who keep coming back to your company’s online content to see what you have to say next, and who then see the ads and deals offered through that site. The key is to be either entertaining, informative, or both. It can’t be about advertising your products or services – it has to focus on things that are interesting or useful to your target demographic.
You could start a company blog and make videos or even infographics that solve problems your demographic has to deal with, or that showcase humorous or otherwise entertaining content. All you have to do is generate new content that offers readers something unique.
You can boost the effectiveness of your content marketing campaign by learning about search engine optimization, or SEO. That might seem like a daunting idea, but with just a little study, it’s easy to get the basics. You can use online tools to figure out the keywords that your target demographic will likely use in their Internet searches and then write your content to include them.
3. Register with Google Maps
People don’t just use Google Maps to get directions, they also use it to find restaurants, stores, and other businesses. If you have a brick-and-mortar business, it is well worth your while to register your business with Google Maps. Not only is it an effective form of marketing to just have your business on the map, but your customers can also even leave reviews that can entice new customers to come to you.
4. PPC Ads
Pay-per-click, or PPC, ads are also worth considering because they’re a rather cost-effective method of advertising. With PPC ads, your ad is displayed whenever someone uses the search engine you are advertising on (like Facebook or Amazon) to search for certain keywords and phrases that you have bid on. If they click on your ad, they are taken to a landing page you designed to see whatever offer or promotion you are running. You only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad, so you can be sure that your marketing dollars are being effectively used.
Whatever you are selling, marketing does not have to break your budget. As long as you are willing to put in some time and effort, it can be practically free. No matter how small your small business’ budget is, there is no good reason to ever cut your marketing efforts.