Marketing Your Business on a Budget; Online and Offline
In an age of social media and easy to use tech, cheap but effective marketing is now a never ending possibility
The adage ‘speculate to accumulate’ may be all well and good, but with a range of digital tools and networking opportunities at your fingertips, it has become entirely possible to promote your business without chipping away at your resources.
The marketing and advertising scene may have changed beyond recognition in recent years, but this has hugely benefitted small businesses in relation to what they can do online. Flyers may have been replaced by QR codes, and discount apps may have become the way to get on the local radar, but marketing your brand really can be as simple as establishing a well managed Twitter presence.
Aside from the wealth of online opportunities, it’s also never been easier to showcase your brand, products and services through the phenomenon of ‘pop-up’ boutiques and food outlets. Businesses don’t necessarily need to have a base and vast overheads to be seriously desirable anymore and pop-up has become one of the most stylish ways to showcase your brand.
So with a chunk of marketing (both online and offline) under our belts, we’ve taken current trends and relatively fresh forms of promoting your brand to show how you can achieve quantifiable results on a budget. These techniques may require a little research if you’re a digital novice, but wherever possible we’ve outlined helpful resources to point you in the right direction.
Utilise Social Media
It’s fair to say that small businesses can be reluctant to set up business social media profiles as they find it difficult to see any ROI for their efforts. Some brands can also worry that a social media presence may leave them vulnerable to any negative backlash from a minority of unhappy customers.
The truth is, a social media presence isn’t about reaping sales, it’s about building your brand. Equally, a social media presence does give consumers a public space in which to air any comments, but a social media campaign allows you to intelligently manage these concerns and set up a stronger customer services channel as a result.
Social media can be used to show you’re on the industry pulse, allow you to showcase new products to your audience and promote your blog for greater visibility. The best thing of all is that this can literally take minutes. While it’s important to commit to your social media updates and show consumers they can engage with you, really just 15 minutes a day (5 minutes at morning, noon and night) is all it takes to pick up on any comments/retweets/shares and see any trending industry hype.
It’s also possible to expand your Facebook reach by setting up a low cost advertising campaign. If you’re new to setting up Facebook promotions then it can seem confusing at first, but by specifying the length of your campaign, you can ensure there’s no chance of going over your assigned budget. By clicking on settings – create ad – promote page posts/get more page likes, you can create an ad and target it to your audience. This is especially useful if you have a new product and you would like to promote a post showcasing this.
See Avoiding Customer Service Backlash on Social Media Channels and Social Media Guidelines: Wings and Guardrails for Your Staff for further information.
Pen a blog
A blog can literally be an endeavour which takes up a couple of hours of your time each week, but a regular well-thought out article does wonders for your digital marketing efforts. If it’s possible to integrate a blog on your existing site then this is well worth setting up; however, if this will involve web development costs, then it’s just as easy to set up a free Tumblr blog.
By setting up a blog, you can generate links back to your site (if offsite, like a Tumblr blog) or enhance your digital marketing efforts by increasing the amount of content on your site (Google loves good content). By discussing industry insights and blogging about industry events and conferences you can also quickly establish yourself as an authority in your field and increase your readership and brand profile.
If writing was never your strong point and penning a regular blog is a little intimidating, then take a look at the quick copywriter’s guide.
See Starting a Business Blog: How and Why for further reading.
Boost coverage with a high impact, low budget competition
A low-budget competition can really re-energise your social media efforts and expand your brand reach without much effort on your part at all. By giving something simple away (for example a hamper if you’re a food company or a handbag if you’re a fashion boutique) you can seriously promote your business without investing the cold-hard-cash or eating into your busy schedule.
The simplest way to hold a competition is via social media, however ensure you’re adhering to any terms and conditions before going ahead, a poorly designed campaign can (at the very worst) get you banished from the site! By using a tool such as Thunderpenny, you can create Facebook app competitions that look professional and can be completely tailored to your brand. By prompting entrants to input their name and email address, you can also secure yourself a high-quality list of contacts for email marketing purposes.
Once you’ve established your competition, you can then establish a paid Facebook promotions campaign (see above) and promote your competition via your other social media channels.
Reinforce your brand with Pop-Up Displays
Pop-up displays are all about the products, but failing to establish your brand at such events will be the difference between getting forgotten and positioning yourself as an up and coming brand. A pop-up display essentially acts as your shop front, so it’s well worth commissioning an eye-catching display that can be easily transported to events.
Pop-up displays are a Godsend to the pop-up enthusiast, delivering on quality and style without breaking the bank.
Collaborate wherever possible
You can significantly cut your marketing budget by collaborating with bloggers, niche businesses or charity events. While this method does require a measure of time and effort in order to source the best opportunities, the benefit to both your online and offline marketing efforts are usually well worth the investment.
By donating a product or service to a charity event you can increase your visibility (or even be named a partial sponsor) and help a worthy cause (again, great for your brand). Don’t think your niche is too specialist either, there’s opportunities in every sector – even if you sell kitchen sinks, you could always donate some to a new project for a position on their marketing materials!
Of course, this can also be utilised online in order to set up a strong link profile back to your own site. By offering to post well-written, original content on a high quality site you can promote your own brand simply in exchange for your engaging content. In some cases, the blogger or site in question may want something in return, so this is where establishing your own respected blog comes in handy for allowing the blogger to ‘guest blog’. By sharing content and gaining your place on the blog roll (basically a directory of blogs the site owner has endorsed) you can build up strong industry networks and create a sustainable link profile.
These top five tips can be used in conjunction and in many cases they beautifully complement each other to create a comprehensive marketing strategy on a shoestring. Please try them and let us know how they perform for you.
Victoria Browne is a social media and marketing blogger writing on behalf of It’s a Stickup. It’s a Stickup stock a great range of pop-up displays and business banners that can incorporate existing branding, or they can work with businesses to help create artwork from scratch.