Marketing is one of the most important operations of any business. Alberta Women Entrepreneurs understands that while you may have ambitious marketing objectives, your budget may not always permit you to do all of the marketing that you would like to do. Here’s 7 Ways to Leverage Your Tight Marketing Budget!
1. Understand your target market
Taking the time to properly research your target market is the most important step you will take in making efficient use of your marketing dollars. Make sure you thoroughly understand your ideal customer: What do they value? Where do they spend their time? How do they prefer to learn about deals and new products or services? Knowing this about them will enable you to build a strategy that will get directly in front of them instead of getting lost in the noise, guaranteeing you the highest ROI per precious marketing dollar spent.
2. Make social media your best friend
Simply being on social media is not the equivalent of making use of social media. You must develop a strategy to use across your platforms in order for it to be an effective marketing channel. When done correctly, social media allows you to build relationships with your customers, inform them of important things going on in your business, and find new leads by getting your name out there, for free! It also gives you access to communication with key influencers in the community.
You may also consider dedicating a portion of your marketing budget to sponsored ads. This is not necessary (as I mentioned, you can make a good impression on your platforms at no cost), but it may help you increase your reach. Most major platforms allow you to set your objective for the campaign, target your audience, pre-determine an amount to spend that is reasonable for your budget, and then track your results.
3. Maximize local efforts
There are many ways you can create local awareness to drive new business.
Volunteering your business’s time at an event is a great place to start. You probably don’t have the budget to sponsor the event, but your presence there can be just as powerful. Strategically align the events you choose to be at with your company’s purpose and values so that you will meet potential customers, investors, or partners! For example, if you own a physiotherapy company, volunteer for your staff to set up a tent and work on the runners at a triathlon, or if you own a restaurant then cater an event free of charge where your target audience would be present in order to get people talking about your product.
Connect with other small businesses that complement your offering and help each other out by cross-promoting each other’s products or services.
Share your expertise by hosting an event or class at your business, or get in touch with writers of magazines, newspapers, or trade magazines to provide them with a story or some expertise and get your name in print.
Guerilla marketing is another option that takes a good amount of time and thought, but can be done with little money, as it is the creativity that counts in creating a big buzz from this tactic!
4. Don’t underestimate the power of e-mail
E-mail is proven to produce the highest return on marketing dollars invested, regardless of company, or industry, size and scope. In a 2016 study done by EConsultancy, it came out on top again for ROI – ahead of search engine optimization (SEO) – proving it is a tried and true marketing tactic.
E-mail has also been consistently found to be the preferred method of communication for customers (72% of customers prefer communication with companies to happen through e-mail), according to a study done by Marketing Sherpa.
5. Convenience is king
According to 2015 research done by Bright Local, more searches are now coming from mobile phones than from desktops, so it’s important that your website is mobile-friendly. When someone is searching for a local business from their phone they are generally searching for something they need right now. You can use sites like Duda to convert your desktop site to be mobile-compatible. This ensures customers can get the information they need about you right away, increasing the rate of searches converted into sales.
In order to make sure you are coming up as a top option when these consumers are searching in the first place, do your keyword research. Do your due diligence in ensuring you are building out your website according to best SEO practices in order to increase website traffic.
6. Leverage your happy customers
Your happy customers will be your best advocates. Make sure you spend time getting to know them and building relationships with them! In return, they will feel an increased loyalty to the brand, fostering word-of-mouth within the community.
You might want to consider developing a customer referral program, which can be as easy as offering a free gift card for sharing the business with 5 friends on social media.
EConsultancy. Email Marketing Industry Census 2016. April 2016.
Burstein, D. Marketing Research Chart: How do customers want to communicate? February 2015. Marketing Sherpa powered by MECLABS.