Marketing your business on a shoestring budget
You may be just at the beginning of your business lifecycle or you’re finding yourself short of funds, and you need to find ways to market your business on a shoestring budget. Inexpensive doesn’t have to mean ineffective, though. Truth be told, some of the most effective forms of marketing are the least expensive and are often overlooked or undervalued. Let’s look at several strategies you can use to make the most of what you have.
Use ‘ye olde’ business card
You can’t get much more low-tech than this. Check in your local area for inexpensive business card offers or check online for inexpensive business cards from websites like Vistaprint.com, Moo.com or Zazzle.com. Do not use the free versions of business cards, but if you find a coupon or get a discount code you can get cards inexpensively. Now, use them. Be concerned about the quality of the cards you choose. It matters. My favourite? Moo cards. Their selection can inspire!
When you go to any event, be sure to leave your business card. When you have a reason to hand out your phone number to anyone, for any reason, even if it’s not totally related to business, give them your business card. You never know when someone will need the services you offer, or when your friends and family will meet up with someone who needs your services. Hand your cards out freely.
Build a website with a blog
It’s so important to watch your budget, but don’t skimp or go cheap here. You can have or create a website with a blog that looks professional easy. You can find and use platform specific themes to get the look you want and need (do make sure it’s suitable for your type of business).
If you haven’t done so already, buy your own domain name. You think it doesn’t matter about you having your own domain name? It does. It impacts how you and your business is perceived so take care of this. There are some budget friendly options for getting your website with blog and every penny of that cost is worth it.
I’ve stated that your website should also hold your blog and you should do this for several reasons, including crucial visibility from Google when you structure this way. You want the blog to be on your website and not separate from your website like a Blogger or Wordpress.com blog.
Does your website already have a blog? Perhaps it's been neglected for a while. You need to press it into service. In this instance, you're sitting on an untapped resource to bring potential business to your site.
Regardless of you choose to do this, the next step is to write regular informative, keyword-rich blog posts that you promote via social media.
Use social media to promote Everything
Make sure to set up branded social media accounts for your business. But, you don’t have to be on all social media networks. Instead use the knowledge that you have about your audience to choose which social media networks that you should be present on. Make good profiles that represent your brand in a cohesive way.
When you write a blog post, send it to social media. When you take a picture of something, or have a question about something you’re creating, mention it on social media. Use social media to engage your audience in creative ways. You can use social media to get email list signups, promote events, and more – all free.
Set up an editorial calendar and use it
Create a calendar that shows all the things you will be sending out monthly (it’s about marketing). Include everything in the paragraph above and plan where you will share this information on social media and beyond.
Find a Joint Venture Partner for a Project
A JV partnership is not a real business partnership. It’s a joining of forces or collaboration between complementary business owners who share an audience but are not in direct competition. Finding a project to work on like this can essentially help you both double your audience.
Make the JV partnership a time-limited project that has a definite beginning and ending to start. Determine all the rules and how money will be handled up front and put it all in a contract. Define each aspect of the work that each of you will be responsible for completing. Be clear and stick to the plan and you’ll both come out successful.
Write a book
If you’re an expert on anything, you can write a book about the topic. You can publish it easily on Kindle, or promote it as a PDF document right from your website. You can sell it, or give it away for free. It’s up to you. But, a book can push you forward in the eyes of your audience as a true expert and become a calling card.
Speak out! Get on the speaking circuit
Using your book as a foundation, put the word out that you’re ready to give talks locally and for the cost of a ticket, room and board, go to other speaking events. Sometimes, you can even get paid for speaking once you’re established and in demand. So, not only can speaking become a good marketing opportunity, but it can also become a new revenue stream.
Create some buzz
When you really have no money, a great way to get the word out is to create a lot of buzz. You can do this in several ways. Create a viral video, write a controversial blog post, or have a contest with videos that get voted on by the video creator's friends, family and audience. It’s a great way to get people talking and to get free advertising. Offer a relevant and amazing prize package and it’ll also create buzz.
Build relationships through networking
Choose networking events wisely. You want to network with people who can become clients, or who can send you clients. Since your budget is limited, try to find online or local networking events that you can attend. There are many mastermind groups online that have a fee for joining, but are awesome ways to find clients once you spend the time building relationships and developing trust.
A great way to increase your customer base is to convince your customers to refer you to others. Most of the time satisfied customers will tell others about you, but in some cases they may not because they want to keep you to themselves.
This is especially true with service-based businesses. So, a great way to overcome this issue is to give your customers a reason to tell others about you such as a discount coupon, or additional freebies for each paying customer they send your way.
If you sell products, consider starting an affiliate program as a way to get more people to tell others about your products and make more sales without it costing you anything more than a percentage of sales.
Using these marketing ideas when you have little to no money will take mostly time, especially if you need to learn how to use the technology. However, putting to work even a couple of these ideas will push your business forward.
If you had to pick just two of these suggestions, what would you choose? I’d love to hear your answers in the comments below.