Marketing on a shoestring

Wouldn’t it be great to have an unlimited marketing budget? You could spend fortunes on ads, have a flashy website, hire the best marketing brains in the business. You could, just about, buy yourself as much business as you could handle. The problem is, most of us don’t have huge budgets, some of us don’t have any budgets at all.

Of course, you know you need to market your business to get customers. No customers means no revenue and no revenue means no business. So, assuming you haven’t got the marketing budget of  Coke or McDonald’s, how can you get your name out there? Here’s our six top tips:

1. Narrow your focus – If you own a corner shop you’re probably not going to market yourself to people in another city, you’ll market your business to people who are most likely to buy from you. In this case, people who live or work nearby. The same should be true of every business. Clearly define who your most likely customers are and focus your efforts on them – you’ll save a fortune and get better results.

2. Expand your focus –Marketing is much more than the ad you run in the local paper. Marketing is everything and anything that your customers (or anyone else) might come in contact with. When you look at your entire business as a ‘marketing whole’ you start to see new opportunities everywhere and challenge the status quo.

How does the look of your premises affect the number of referrals you get? Could you use your invoices to generate repeat sales? Is your website easy to read? Make a list of all the possible points of contact your business has with potential and existing customers and see how they could be improved or better used.

3. Market to your existing customers – The old adage that 80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers is worth remembering. Focus on ways that you can earn more from the existing relationships that you have. Can you sell more to existing customers? Can you keep them for longer? Keeping existing customers cost much less than finding new ones.

4. Add new marketing, don’t replace it – Marketing isn’t an event, it’s a process. You should be trying to add new low cost, or free, marketing tactics to your arsenal on a regular basis with each one adding to the whole and increasing your visibility.

5. Test everything – If you have a limited budget, every marketing effort has to earn its keep. To make sure you’re getting the returns you need, test different ideas and track the results carefully. If a tactic isn’t working change it or stop it.

6. Be different – If everyone is saying the same thing in the same places the winner will be the one with the biggest budget – you need to look for opportunities to stand out. Try borrowing marketing ideas from other industries or simply looking at what your competitors do and do the opposite. (Think Stella Artois’ tagline “Re-Assuringly Expensive”)

There may be a good reason why businesses in your area or industry market in particular ways but you should always be asking yourself ‘why?’.

So how do you market a business on a budget? Simple, you use your head and a lot of hard work.


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