How to market your business on a budget
One of the main problems many start-ups face is getting their products or services out there in the eye-line of their target market. In most cases, such marketing campaigns cost a lot of money, something most new businesses don’t have in abundance. So how can you make the most of a relatively modest budget? This week, you will find hints and tips you need to market your products to the people that matter, without breaking the bank.
One great way to get people talking about your business organically is to simply provide every customer with a fantastic level of customer service.
One of the most traditional marketing techniques for most start-ups is the distribution of promotional materials. However, the method doesn’t always produce the desired results. A stark example would be sending out a pile of badly-designed, flimsy flyers and sitting back and waiting for the phone to ring. Unless it’s an amazing direct marketing piece (and they do exist) sent to an exact target audience at the exact time they needed your product or service, a lack luster campaign can simply mean an unnecessary expense.
Instead of producing something that will be looked at once (and then binned), branding up something the receiver will find useful is a much better bet. Mugs, pens and mouse mats are the traditional methods, but why not try something different?
One way to do this on the cheap is to utilise the talents of those around you. For example, if you have a friend that makes their own jams and chutneys to sell at markets, you could ask them to produce a one-off product run for you, but with your company details printed on the label. This is obviously much more interesting than a business card and, as you already know the supplier, you may be able to initiate a quid pro quo approach, or get the materials at cost price. Making the most of the contacts and skills around you is key at this stage of your business.
Intelligent use of content
If you are going to fork out for promotional material, it is key that you make the most out of the initial outlay. Although this is especially relevant for web marketing techniques, the same approach could be used for print marketing too.
Say you have produced a lengthy report on a trend in your sector. Instead of releasing the content and seeding it out to other sites all in one go, why not separate it out into different sections and stagger the releases over a longer period of time? This means that for the cost of one piece of content, you have multiple periods of promotion time, thus prolonging its lifespan and getting more value for money.
Email marketing is increasingly becoming a vital part of the promotional mix, which is a good thing as compared to other options it is relatively cheap to undertake.
A distinct call to action, offer or competition can go a long way towards engaging your potential customers with email marketing. And if replicated in Social Media pages, a competition can gain mileage for your brand by mere repetition across different media.
As you are building your brand, a highly effective way to persuade people to join your mailing list is to open some sort of contest. If you are imaginative with the prize on offer, the chances are you should be able to get your competition mentioned on more external sites, thus creating more links back to your site and hopefully increasing the amount of people who enter and pass over their details.
The key to a successful competition is to ensure the incentive on offer is a good fit with your brand, and is inventive enough to persuade people to enter.
Word of mouth
In many ways this is the trickiest of all the tips to implement, but luckily there are a few ways you can help this along without spending a penny.
One great way to get people talking about your business organically is to simply provide every customer with a fantastic level of customer service. If you are an online business delivering your product to people in the post, little personalised notes or inserts may – if in keeping with your brand and target market – go down very well with your customers. The chances are that what they receive may give them a nice surprise, increasing the chance of them sharing photos on social media sites or recommending your company to their friends.
As long as it is low cost and you can work it into your normal dispatch procedure with ease, this could really help build your brand both organically and at speed.
Published Wednesday January 8, 2014