Marketing a small business on a shoestring budget is a tough ask in the digital age, but the rewards are more than worth the effort.
While on one hand it has never been easier – in theory at least – to develop an online presence as a means of generating traffic to your business, the sheer amount of competition out there can often leave you feeling lost in the crowd.
The internet is a deep, deep ocean of forgotten URLs, spam email addresses and Donald Trump tweets, and as such your modus operandi can often get lost amid the noise.
What every marketing budget should focus on
Here at GrowthMinds we offer advice on how and where you should be targeting your marketing if you don’t have a bottomless pit of cash to delve into. Here are a few things you should focus on.
Smart-looking websites can take time to put together but first impressions count and if your site appears tired and dull potential customers are unlikely to stick around.
Create a non-linear experience for your customer by hitting them in the face (not literally, of course; technology hasn’t quite reached that stage yet) as soon as they visit your site, asking them to-the-point questions and avoiding the risk of them getting lost navigating around a clunky interface.
Services such as Squarespace and Wix are easy-to-use website builders which are great but it’s always worth considering someone to manage your site build – getting it wrong in the beginning will cost you more further down the line. It goes without saying that you should buy your own domain name as Joebloggs.wix.com is not half as impressive as joebloggs.com.
Mobile compatibility is also key. With more and more people using their smartphones, and not their laptops, to browse the web, it is vital that your website is as functional on a five-inch screen as it is on a 13-inch.
Networking is working
This may come as a surprise to some but there is a world out there beyond laptops and iPhone screens, and often the good, old-fashioned technique of speaking to people in person (scary, right?) is the best way to increase the reach of your business.
Attend networking events that you know will be packed full of potential customers or business partners. It’s harder to ignore a polite tap on the shoulder or the offer of a drink than it is an email.
Any friends in higher places that you may have can also be called upon to help spread your reach further. Word of mouth is a marketing method that shouldn’t be underestimated.
Content is king
Content marketing has replaced much of the traditional Mad Men-style advertising campaigns, which are seen as the vendor’s agenda, as savvy customers instead react to story-telling which highlights what’s in it for them.
Content could range from a 15-minute video on YouTube, to a five-second GIF on Twitter. It could be a 700-word article, or a snappy 12-word tweet. Among the most successful examples of low-cost, content marketing in the digital age are the ‘how to’ videos on YouTube.
Blogs are very effective as they enrich your website with extra content and keywords that can boost SEO rankings. They can also be shared on social media to pro-actively entice new visitors to your website.
If you’re stuck working out what to write for your first blog post, check out our content cheat sheet over here. It’s a step by step guide on writing engaging content for your audience.
Social media is a fantastic resource for growing your business and keeping in contact with customers and alluring new ones. In today’s climate the choice of platforms can be overwhelming so it is important to hone in on two or three, as opposed to trying to have a presence across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, Tumblr, Google Plus and everything in between. Tinder probably isn’t necessary.
Creating a consistent brand identity across, for example, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram would be enough if that suits your business and your audience. If you are targeting an age range of 18-25-year-olds then Snapchat might be more worthwhile than Facebook.
Encourage customers to share their experiences using a dedicated hashtag, and engage with any mentions you may receive. Sure, a simple ‘like’ notifies the sender that you have seen their message, but why not quote the tweet and share it with your followers? Show them you care.
Emojis can also give the business a winking-face-style boost. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, emojis are taking over. Adding an emoji or two to your tweet or Facebook post will stand out on your followers’ timeline.
Beat the competition
Awards are handed out for pretty much everything you can think of nowadays so no matter how niche your company may be, you can bet there is a competition worth entering. A snazzy certificate at reception, a message on your website or mention in a blog, pointing out that your company scooped first place in a local, regional or even national competition will stick in the mind.
A piece in the local newspaper celebrating your win will raise your profile ever further. People do still read them, even if just online.
Even if you do not win such a competition – most of which will be free to enter, by the way – the experience will allow you to assess where your business may need tweaking. There’ll always be next year!
No matter the size of your marketing budget, GrowthMinds has a plan for you. Contact us to find how we can help you get the maximum rewards for your outlay.