Marketing is expensive. And nobody knows it better than you who is heading a small business with passion, hard work, and a small budget. You must have asked yourself this several times – is it really necessary to spend so much time and money on marketing my business? Well, the truth is that marketing is a necessary element to get the spotlight on your business and connect with your target audience. Hence, a considerable part of your revenue should be used for marketing or promoting your business.
But what do you do when your business is still finding its feet and you don’t have money like the big names of your industry? You play it smart by incorporating the best marketing tips for small businesses in your strategy. When it comes to saving their team’s time, a lot of small businesses employ various marketing tools to automate marketing processes. As for saving money, you must use your resources to their maximum potential with strategic planning and execution.
Here are some marketing ideas for small businesses that can bring you a good Return On Investment (ROI) without burning a hole in your pocket.
1. Content is (still) the king
A piece of content that is well researched and well written has the potential to drive meaningful traffic, leads, and sales. To craft such content, the first step is to identify the right keywords. You can use tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, UberSuggest, or Moz to identify the keywords your competitors are ranking for. Once you find out these keywords, you need to outdo them with better content. The best part, most of these tools provide free trial options except Ahrefs.
All you have to invest in is a good content writer. Next, promote the content on all your social media accounts. If you are finding it difficult to reach your audience through just social, consider cross-promotion. You can collaborate with other relevant businesses, promote them through your content, and vice-versa. For instance, if you are marketing a SaaS (software as a service) product, you can team up with another SaaS company (not a competitor, obviously) to promote each other.
For example, promoting a remote team doing business with cloud PBX and team communication tools. You can even repurpose this content later – create a video and share it. Apart from this, you can publish content on guest posting sites with a good DA score in your niche. The process is absolutely free and gives you better exposure and some quality leads too.
2. Use visuals to make the content easy-to-consume
If you talk about the early-SEO days, one could have easily made their way to higher search engine rankings with ‘all text and no visuals’ kind of content. But it doesn’t work anymore. Today, words are not enough. If you wish to leave a long-lasting impression, your content must have good visuals. For your blog posts, create an interesting video which tells your audience about the topic in a concise manner.
While sending an email about a sale, design an attention-grabbing image and add it right at the top. If you plan to run a social media campaign, design visuals accordingly. The gist is, whatever you do, your aim should be to make it memorable. With free graphic designing tools like Canva, you can create beautiful visuals like blog graphics, social media posts, banners, eBook covers, and much more.
3. Leverage the power of infographics
Adding to the previous point, if you have interesting data handy, share it ‘visually’ in the form of an infographic. An infographic attracts not only backlinks but interest, too. Infographics are a great way of improving your search rankings, in turn getting you free organic traffic. For this strategy, you’ll have to invest in a designer. In case you don’t want to, your team can use tools like Venngage, Infogram, and again Canva to easily translate the data into visually effective infographics, and drive traffic and engagement.
4. Participate in social media groups
If you want to connect with your potential customers without spending a penny, then join social media groups on multiple online platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Quora, Reddit, etc. These groups are created to collaborate with people that share common interests. But to execute this strategy effectively, you must identify the right groups that are not only relevant but active too.
A group with no interaction or consistency is of no use. A group where people are sharing posts frequently and interacting actively – by making comments on each other’s posts – would be ideal for you. Once you have a list of highly active and relevant groups, the next part is to share relevant information. Make sure to use the 80/20 rule here. You don’t want to seem pushy. Additionally, engage yourself in conversations.
The best way to build awareness and credibility is to talk to people. If your post starts attracting more reactions and comments, it will automatically be shown to more members of the group. Don’t join groups just for promoting your product or service. People are there to discuss and learn from each other. The key to winning here is to showcase your domain knowledge.
5. Build your social presence smartly
When you are working with a small budget, it is very important to spend it smartly. By now, you must have identified your target audience and the specific social platforms where they are active. So, why spend so much time and resources on maintaining your presence across all platforms? Instead of trying to be omnipresent, focus on mastering some specific platforms. The key here is to select the top two to three social platforms where most of your target users participate actively.
Say, your target audience consists of youth or college students – Snapchat or Instagram would work best for you. On the other hand, if you want to target millennials, your focus should be on Twitter and YouTube. If you are a B2B organization whose target audience is the C-suite (CEOs, CFOs, etc.), LinkedIn would be the perfect platform for you to focus on.
6. Turn your brand into an SME
A Subject Matter Expert (SME) is a person who has expert knowledge about what goes into doing a particular job or accomplishing a task. In this case, you won’t be marketing your product or services. You’ll be marketing yourself as a brand. Establishing your brand as an SME will make your clients or customers take your word for it. They will look up to you for advice, guidance, and expertise. Say, you own a restaurant. You can begin with writing columns, articles, or reviews for lifestyle magazines.
If you are into web design and development, you can hold free workshops in relevant colleges and universities. Sharing your experience and knowledge earns your brand some good attention and builds trust. Using this strategy in sync with your inbound marketing campaign can get you a lot more conversions than email or telemarketing. What’s more? Eventually, you’ll become a leader and an influencer in your niche.
7. Create exclusive offers for social media
Building a loyal social media following is half the battle won. To win the other half, you must figure out how you can convert these followers into customers. Creating specific offers for your social media followers is one great way of doing just that. You can bring out flash deals – the time limit encourages quick actions on the followers’ part. You can also create offers that encourage people to buy more products from you or buy yearly subscriptions for your service.
These offers can be promoted in the form of posts, Stories (for Facebook and Instagram), or ads. Social media marketing if done right has the ability to continuously drive meaningful traffic to your website. The key to winning with it is to regularly post meaningful content. Small businesses with less budget often shy away from using professional tools. You might have heard about Hootsuite, Sendible when talking about managing social media, but they go way out of budget.
Instead, you can have a look at alternatives that are cost-effective and easy to use. This may save some money for them but it hampers the growth as it makes the employees inefficient. As a small company, your focus should be on growing fast by providing creative solutions to your customers. To make your employees efficient and productive at social media marketing, use social media scheduling tools, designed specifically for small and medium businesses.
8. Organize social media contests
Another great marketing strategy for your social is to organize contests. Contests require your followers to participate in some manner which (for you) means driving engagement. Hopefully, these followers will recommend their friends and colleagues to participate, too. Don’t forget to come up with a catchy hashtag for the contest – hashtags have good recall value.
Next, think about the kind of contest you wish to organize – you can ask users to contribute some content, share their personal stories or come up with funny answers. No matter what kind of contest you put up, the incentive you are providing your followers is very important. That’s the reason they will be participating in your contest. So, choose a good incentive – offer discounts, free coupons, a chance to be the first one to try your product/service, etc.
9. Get your business on Quora
Quora is the place people go to get suggestions and solutions. Your potential customers might be there, too. You can use this platform not only to identify your customers’ pain points but also to propose valuable solutions. This, in turn, helps you build a personal brand and drive traffic to your website. Many SMB owners use Quora to perform industry research. You, too, can use Quora to get answers to questions like:
- What is your target audience looking for?
- What problems are your potential customers facing?
Your brand should be able to answer these questions in an authentic way while explaining how your product/service provides solutions.
Wrapping it up
No matter the size of your business, digital marketing is a crucial part of growing your business. Don’t worry if you are low on money to create shiny marketing campaigns with celebrity ads. A few small-budget business ideas will also do the job for you. The key is to use the available resources smartly to perform the discussed budget marketing ideas for small businesses. As you move forward to try these marketing ideas, keep tracking which platform works the best for your business. Once you know the sweet spot for your business, allocate more budget to your marketing strategy.