Marketing can sometimes present small business teams with a unique set of challenges, as most small businesses want to hit the ground running, but may not have the budget or resources to do all the things they want to do. So, what is a marketing team to do with a limited budget? Get creative. And we’re here to help.
There are several free to low-cost marketing channels available to small businesses, and when utilized correctly, they can help generate new leads and prospects and get the sales cycle ball rolling.
Marketing channels for small businesses on a budget
Small business marketing can sometimes feel like a daunting task to a company or organization with a tight budget or a lack of dedicated staff members to oversee the marketing process. The good news here is that there are endless marketing channels available for small businesses on a budget, and we’ve compiled a list of some ideas that can help garner the results you’re looking for.
1. Social media
One of the absolute most vital pieces of the marketing process is getting your small business name out to the public, and one of the best ways to do that is to set up your online social media presence. Social media can be used in a few different ways and can be low to no cost depending on how you choose to set it up.
Facebook and Instagram pages for a company are excellent places to begin building your brand’s audience. Facebook alone has over 2.3 million active users, while Instagram comes in at a respectable 1 million active users.
Social media has one of the greatest reaches, but, again, it must be executed the right way. Simply setting up a business page on Facebook isn’t enough. Your brand has to do a little digging and know where your audience will most likely be found.
Yes, there is promise with Facebook and Instagram, but the chart above clearly shows excellent potential with other social media platforms such as YouTube and WhatsApp. So, take your time and do your research before blindly setting up profiles that won’t do your business any good. And while achieving significant reach on social media is becoming more pay to play, you can execute some small ad campaigns with small budgets, and still see results.
In today’s world, it’s nearly impossible to do business without having a website. Why—because users always want instant access to information, and if they must wait to learn more about your small business, then the chances are they will move on to your competitors. And if you don’t exist on the Internet, do you even exist at all?
Having a website doesn’t have to break the bank, however. There are many website providers out there that have very competitive prices, allowing you to host your small business website at a costs that are suitable for you.
With the number of Internet users worldwide currently at 4.3 billion, if your small business marketing strategy involves reaching a more extensive scale audience, then a website is a must have.
3. Online directories
Online directories are generally free, such as setting up a Google my Business page. It allows small businesses to share vital information to the public about their brand, how they can be reached, and more. What makes this option even more appealing? The fact that customers can leave comments and reviews on your small business on these online directories. So, if your brand is taking the time to care for your growing clientele, then they’ll likely help you by giving you a positive review to help up your online rank.
4. Email marketing
Email marketing continues to be the top channel in overall ROI when it comes to business marketing, so it would be very wise for a small business marketing team to put this channel to good use. If a business is starting off very small and local, then this effort can cost very little when using free email clients such as Google’s Gmail.
However, if you want to be taken more seriously and want to practice email marketing best practices, you should use some of your limited budgets to invest in a proper email service provider (ESPs). These ESPs can range from basic email services to fully equipped services that allow you to create, send, and monitor your email marketing campaigns. With a small budget, it’s worth keeping things simple because you can always add more bells and whistles as your small business grows.
5. Content creation
Another excellent channel to consider for your small business marketing strategy is content creation. If you want your business to be noticed, you have to have something to be noticed for—besides your products and services.
Content creation is wonderful for small businesses because it allows them to express their expertise in their given niche, and if they have a platform to share it on, such as a website or social media profile, then they have a way to share it with their audience easily. Even better, for small businesses who don’t have the dedicated staff to utilize for unique content creation, you can always begin by using content curation, which is the sharing of other’s work to help prove that you are staying up to date with your industry.
6. Industry partnerships
Industry partnerships are another marketing channel that can help a small business marketing team spread the word of their brand and services. While many marketing teams like to focus in on big industry partnerships, that isn’t a realistic feat for a business new to the community. That’s why starting small is a great option.
Take this example from a local doggie boutique known as the Happy Dog Barkery. This small-town business is known for their efforts in supporting local dog shelters, and when the opportunity came for them to draw in some extra business while also supporting a foundation to help a larger rescue, they jumped at it.
Source: Facebook/Happy Dog Barkery
This was a perfect way for this small business to get some extra attention while a big box office hit was making its rounds as well, all in the name of charity.
Additional marketing ideas to get your small business noticed
While many small businesses choose to focus on more traditional channels like the ones mentioned above, there are less frequented methods that prove to be just as beneficial as the rest.
7. Become one with your community.
This may sound a little corny, but it’s one of the best marketing methods for a small business to practice. When we say become one with your community, we mean local and online. Consumers want to know they can trust your knowledge and that you value them. This means you aren’t always out to get a sale, but instead, are out to spread awareness, information and more.
Take the social media channel Reddit, for example. Many marketers avoid this social media giant simply because direct marketing tactics are sometimes frowned upon. However, once a brand takes the time to become one with the rest of the community, people start to trust them and their knowledge.
Take this example from a watch company, instead of trying to sell to the community; they turned to them for advice, which later resulted in a new fanbase and some interested buyers.
8. Frequent community trade shows.
Communities small and large often have local trade shows that offer local small businesses a chance to display what they have to offer for the public. Examples of lager trade shows include bridal expos and car shows that bring in local vendors to engage with the public.
9. Hand out good old fashioned paper marketing materials.
While more and more marketing teams are focusing all their efforts online, traditional print marketing is still considered a valuable asset, especially to small businesses.
Brands such as VistaPrint and Staples give small businesses the opportunity of printing large amounts of material for a budget-friendly price. This means that brands can print and pass out materials such as the following to help spread word of mouth in their community:
10. Host a local event.
Hosting events in your local community is also a great, budget-friendly way to market your small business. Let’s take a look at the Happy Dog Barkery once more. They host a variety of events for local pet owners, many of which allow them to bring in their furry friends, further encouraging the public’s engagement. In their most recent public event, they have invited the community to come learn more about raw food and gut health for pets.
Source: Facebook/Happy Dog Barkery
This event is a great way not only to bring the public together but for this doggy boutique to really show off their expertise in their industry – animal health and wellness.
Small business marketing can quickly become an overwhelming process if it’s not done right. Instead of jumping off the deep end and trying to do all the things at once, consider the following:
What is your current marketing budget?
What do you have as far as marketing manpower?
What are your marketing priorities?
With these ideas in mind, you’ll be better equipped to decide which marketing methods best suit your small businesses needs at the current moment. Remember, as you grow, so can your marketing efforts, but for the meantime, make sure you are working within your means.
Now that you’ve got some ideas flowing for your small business marketing plans, why not check out some quality project management tools to keep your small business running smoothly? Here are six of the best project management tools that can help your business on the right track.
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