A marketing plan is vital for any business, but it doesn’t have to cost the earth. In fact, any business, even on a shoestring budget, can get some great marketing results providing there is consistency & planning.
There still seems to be a bit of a fallacy that businesses have to invest huge sums of money in marketing to ensure they get ‘good results’. This absolutely isn’t the case, although I am sure there are still some agencies out there who pride themselves on thinking high investment makes for the best results.
In actual fact, any business, on the smallest budget can create some really effective marketing activity that drives their business forward in terms of brand awareness, targeting the right audience, gaining customers and ultimately impacting their bottom line financial results positively.
My 3 vital marketing rules would have to be
- Be consistent
Invest in Marketing
This doesn’t mean you have to eat beans on toast for the next 2 years or turn the heating off. Investing might mean that you have to invest your time (which I’d advise even if you do have plenty of cash available!) in planning and being consistent in your activity, as these are the key things that will make your activity pay off. Remember, marketing isn’t an instant win; it’s a way to bring your brand & offering in front of the people who need it, make them realise they need it & so they buy it instead of someone else’s offer.
Plan Your Marketing
There are plenty of quotes that could be used here, ones we’ve all heard a million times I’m sure… “Failing to plan is planning to fail” for example (I knew I wouldn’t be able to help myself!). If you can spend time doing your prep work to establish who you want to target, what their pain points are, how you can solve their issues, where you would ‘find them’ online or face to face and create a list of actions, then your marketing will work far more effectively for you. The shortest route to sales and revenue is to target those who need your offering the most, not just scattergun hoping that someone might be interested at some point and remember that you offer what they now need.
Be Consistent with Your Marketing
As I’ve said more than once, marketing is rarely a quick fix solution to building your business. Your marketing activity will need consistency for your target audience to notice that this is something a) that they need, b) that you offer it & c) that yours is the best suited to them. Depending on what you read, it is said that a prospective customer requires between 7 and 12 ‘touch points’ before they will decide to buy. Touch points can be online information, meetings, videos, flyers and the like, but that’s a lot of effort to be made before you’ve got them handing over their money. So the more consistent you are with your marketing, the greater the number of touch points offered & the more likely the sale.
So, 3 quite specific rules that I would recommend to any business owner or marketing team. But what about actual activity that a business can put into place, on the cheap, and that will give them results?
Here are 15 tips for marketing a business on a shoestring budget…
- Discover your target audience / perfect customer and understand them – who actually needs your product or service? What are their pain points & how does your offer solve this issue for them? How do you access them? Are you speaking to the decision maker? What are their preferences in terms of communication, ways of working and buying process?
- Create your Unique Selling Point – for you to stand out from your competitors you need to have a unique quality that no-one else has. Do you have this & are you telling people about it? What makes it easy for someone to swap to your service if they already use someone else? How do you make a difference to someone who uses your offering? What’s in it for them if they buy from you? What return on their investment do you offer? Have you looked at your competitors to understand what they are offering?
- What is your sales process or funnel? Is it easy for your prospective customers to navigate your process, find you, communicate with you & tell you that they want to buy?
- Introductory Pitch or Elevator Pitch – in many cases you have less than a minute for someone to decide whether they need what you’re offering or not, so get this one nailed. Make it short & succinct, and with all the ‘hooks’ that puts you ahead of the competition.
- Networking – there are plenty of free networking opportunities about and many formal groups now offer one or two visits free of charge before you are tied in. Make the most of them & use them to your advantage to widen your network. Be consistent in your networking, become a familiar & contributing facet of a networking group. Find out if there are any speaking slots available so you have the room’s attention for 10 minutes to tell them the attributes of your product or service. Invest your time in networking, find out which groups work for you & become a contributing member.
- Consistency on Media Platforms – for any media platform that you utilise, consistency is key. To post once in a while is just not going to cut it, especially with the recent (& ongoing!) changes in the Facebook algorithm and the like. Be consistent, be informative, give value to your audience, comment on other people’s posts/blogs and build relationships. You might be tempted by Google Ads, however at a recent expo I attended an expert advised that unless you’re willing to invest around £20 per day for Google Ads, until you’ve got your organic content working for you, it’s probably not worth it – some good advice if your budget is tight I would say!
- Blog (or vlog, even better!) – blogs/vlogs are easy ways to impart value-adding content to the wider world. You can give advice, tips or tell people more about what you do. If you are writing meaningful & useful content for your target audience then you become a knowledge ‘go to’, which in turn may well turn in to sales.
- Collaborate – collaborating with like-minded business owners costs nothing, and sometimes delivers a stronger proposition. You may find another business that compliments your offering perfectly, creating a great partnership for future referrals as well as collaborating on a business solution.
- Referrals – word of mouth remains one of the most powerful forms of advertising for any business, product or service. Referrals & recommendations mean to other prospective customers that they already have a confirmed testimonial from someone they know & are more likely to want to chat with you if you’ve done a good job than start all the research work from scratch.
- Testimonials – use these wherever you can. You can share them online, add them to any online profiles you may have, your website, even on newsletter & flyers. If people are saying good things about your work, don’t hide it, shout about it!
- Email campaigns/newsletters – there are many email campaign options that you can utilise for free up to a certain number of subscribers (2,000 in some cases!). Newsletters are a great way to keep your target audience / current customers up to date with your activity, advice and added value content. Be careful of the new GDPR regulations, however, spam is definitely not the way to go about it & will not get you sales. Ask permission, give them an ‘any time’ get out & make sure you’re not just selling.
- Be a guest contributor – writing on someone else’s website, featuring on a podcast or vlog is a great way to reach a wider audience & network that perhaps you don’t have access to. Plus it works both ways. So the person you’re a guest for (providing you have picked a relevant partnership) will add value to your website & content too.
- Feedback – feedback is a great way to improve your offering, whether it’s positive or not. If your customer has suggested you have done a good job, ask why? What particularly worked for them? & do they have any improvement suggestions? If you get a complaint or someone tells you they don’t want to buy, be brave and ask them why? Don’t second guess them as I promise you, you won’t get it right. Ask them why they didn’t want to buy & use that information to improve whatever elements are the weak spots so next time there will be no questions. You might have lost 1 prospect, but it may be the win of the next 10.
- Offer a discounted rate or price – sometimes people like to feel before they buy. If someone approaches you & just needs a little extra something to tip them over the buying edge, consider offering them a discounted rate or something additional for no extra charge so you can at least trial the sale. If, at the end of the time limit, they decide not to buy, ask for their feedback. If they decide to continue with it, put your price back up to where it should be & enjoy the relationship.
- Google My Business – get yourself listed on Google My Busines. It not only helps people find you on a Google search but it also puts you on Google Maps – double whammy! And it’s for free.
This list definitely isn’t exhaustive, but will certainly get your activity going without having to spend any money at all. Remember the rules; invest your time, plan, and apply the actions consistently for the medium/long term and you’ll start seeing the results in terms of interest in your business, new clients and a positive impact on your sales and profit levels.
If you need any support in getting started on these actions or anything else strategic or marketing led, just pop me a message and we can have a chat to see if we can help.