Marketing is an extremely important tool, instrumental to the success of every small business. However, all small business owners recognize the importance of managing every aspect of the business’ budget. Given this, it is vital for small businesses to learn powerful and effective ways to market on a budget.
Developing a marketing plan with a set budget is the best way to ensure your strategy is effective. A written plan with a dollar amount will ensure that you make the most of your money. The US Small Business Administration recommends taking the time to understand your target audience while also ensuring that you have a method to measure your return on investment (ROI). While some marketing methods are difficult to measure, you should consider evaluating sales prior to initiating the marketing campaign and again after.
Marketing is an essential investment to the small business. It provides a means of communication and ability to connect with your customers and potential customers. Take a look at these five marketing ideas for reaching your customers on a budget.
1. Business Cards
In a technology driven world, we often underestimate the power of business cards. Don’t make this mistake. Business cards still remain an extremely useful and economical marketing tool. In the past, business cards were only used to share contact information. Today, they continue to serve that same purpose but are also used to further extend your business’ brand.
Often the first branding seen by your potential consumer, business cards make or break a first impression. In addition to a first impression, your business cards further the opportunity to set you apart from you competitors.
Stop and consider how many business cards you have in your wallet, or on your desk…or in your cabinet drawer. Business cards are valuable because they put a name and a face to your business. As the owner or manager, your name plus your brand builds a connection with your potential consumer. Months later when they find themselves in need of your service, they’re not just going to Google the business name. They’re likely going to look for the business card that has YOUR name and number plus the company information.
There are many ways to create business cards. You can purchase your own card stock from any office supply store and print them from home. Local print shops are always eager to assist you in designing and printing your business cards. And, websites like VistaPrint feature very reasonable design, print and ship business cards.
A web presence is another necessity for the small business. Many businesses feel that if they’re not selling their product online, a website is a moot point. Not true. The next generation is completely technology centered. Phonebooks are out, Google is in. If you lack a web presence you’re missing out on a huge percentage of business. A website may seem like a daunting task but with the right guidance it is not as difficult as one may think.
The web is often the first source of information your potential consumers will get about your business. Make it count! Ensure your design is attractive and easy to navigate. If you don’t already have a website, you must add this to your marketing budget.
3. Awesome Web Content
Once you have established your website, there are tons of very economical methods to build your brand and market online. Using awesome web content is one of these. The copy on your website comes first. Your website needs to be attractive, easy to use as well as informative. It will not do its job if your copy is boring, repetitive and not helpful to the consumer. Your site serves as your online showcase for your business. Don’t underestimate the power of really great content.
Blogging has become an extremely popular method to market and bring attention to your business. Blog posts geared to meet the needs of your potential consumers are very effective. Your content should always be about helping others and providing information that they would benefit from. Blogging is another method to connect with consumers and further promote your brand. You may also find that you enjoy writing about topics related to your business!
4. Social Media
We all know the profound impact social media has on our world today. It is everywhere. Nearly everyone you know participates in at least one social networking site. Given this, it is no surprise that social media marketing is a indicated for small business.
Facebook currently has over a billion active users and remains the most popular social networking site. It represents a great marketing resource for small business. While Facebook does offer paid advertising, there is a lot of marketing to be done simply by creating a business page. Creating a business page is free and provides you with the opportunity to post photos, sales pitches, and blog posts linked to your website. This is a great way to further connect with your consumers and build a relationship.
Invite locals to like your Facebook page and post specials designed particularly for Facebook friends. When posting status updates be sure to respond promptly to any posts to your page. Your business Facebook page offers the opportunity for creativity but is also another extension of your brand. Always be tasteful, respectful, and remember that any content posted or comments posted will directly reflect on to your business.
Twitter is another great social media marketing resource. It aids businesses in building connections and relationships. While Twitter itself may not yield new clients, many referrals are born from using this site. Posting tweets that are helpful and informative is the most effective method to gain followers. You don’t want to use Twitter only for sales copy, that appears spammy. Be helpful and interesting.
Linked In represents a professional social networking site. This too is a great resource to build professional connections and a solid referral base. Linked In doesn’t feature a “business page” per-se but users are able to reach out to their connections, send them personal message as well as post blog articles and updates.
YouTube is the second largest search engine, following behind the ultimate search engine, Google. Given the popularity of YouTube, using this site as a marketing tool is a give in. There are tons of opportunities to market on YouTube; how-to videos, informational videos, funny videos, etc. The options are limited to your own creativity. You shouldn’t enter into YouTube marketing with the expectation of a viral video- however, there are paid advertising options to boost the viewing of your videos.
5. Email Marketing
E-mail marketing is a wonderful, economical tool to reach out to your consumers and potential consumers. This method provides you with the opportunity to create, send and track email newsletters. Gaining an e-mail list is not as difficult as you would think, offering a subscribe button on your website or a signup sheet in your place of business are both great ways to get e-mails. E-mail marketing tools can help you to manage your campaign. These tools help you determine if your campaign is successful or lacking in some areas.
Remember that the key to successful e-mail marketing is consistency and quality. When people subscribe to your newsletter they should know what to expect and should be able to count on a consistent newsletter with great, informative content.
Marketing is extremely important to the growth and success of every small business. While the internet offers tons of economical marketing solutions, don’t underestimate the power of doing things old school, like business cards. Business cards still remain a very reasonably priced and effective method of reaching a large population of potential consumers.
If you have not taken the plunge into web marketing, the time is now. The internet is the ultimate resource for marketing today. There are tons of options to reach your potential consumers very affordably. Your web presence helps to build your brand and serves as the ultimate method for potential consumers to find your contact information.
Great content and blog posting are both great opportunities to build your business. Helping others by providing them with useful information will aid you in growing your business.
Social media marketing is another tool to take advantage of. The popularity of social networking is far greater than its creators ever expected. Take advantage of this popularity and get your business involved. A business page may not yield tons of leads right away, but eventually, in time it will help you connect with and build relationships with your potential consumers.
E-mail marketing is wildly underused by small business and represents another great tool that is very economical. Take the time to work on developing an internet marketing campaign.
Don’t forget that every small business needs a marketing plan and a budget. These are essential components to a successful campaign.