Often running a small company or start-up business means you have to market your products or services on a smaller budget for longer than you would like. With today’s economy, some marketing budgets are getting cut as business’s adjust to a decline or plateau in sales. Whether your foresee your limited budget as being short-term or long-term, you need to be prepared to keep your marketing afloat, make the most of the resources that you have, and ultimately grow your sales.
Even if you are lucky enough to have an abundant budget to work with, it is still wise to have several “life preservers” that you know will keep your marketing program above water in times of trouble. Life preservers for marketers are those marketing tactics that cost little but can have a big impact. Traditional marketing like tradeshows, direct mail, and print advertising tend to be the more expensive, and can weigh you down if you depend on them too much. When you choose to implement the marketing life preservers below yourself, they cost mostly time and can help you weather through rough waters and rise to the top. Hiring a professional to help you implement some of these tried and true tactics can also be cost-effective for various budgets. Below are five little-or-no-cost, high-impact marketing tactics that I would recommend.
Your Marketing Life Preservers
1. Create Oodles of Content
Content marketing can inform, educate, or tell a story. The residual benefits of blogging can last virtually forever. Go nuts writing content by blogging, writing press releases and customer stories or case studies. Look at your website for ways that you can make the content more attention-grabbing, concise and effective. By writing new blog posts 1-3 times a week, the search engines will index your site much more frequently. Also think about how you can use electronic versions of media to save on printing costs (i.e. PDF’s, online videos, Scribd, email newsletters).
2. Maximize your Social Media Efforts
Unless you are already a social media superhero, I am willing to bet there is more you can do on the social networks. Do you have a social media strategy in place that aligns with your goals, or are you randomly posting status updates? Re-evaluate all the social networks that you are using (and not yet using). What is working? How can you improve? Then take action. If you don’t understand it, now is a great time to learn.
3. Get Found Online
There are many things you can do online to help your website get found organically (naturally, without paying per click) through search engines optimization. Start by claiming and optimizing your local search listings with Google right away. Other ways to help your website get found are by optimizing your keywords, title tags, and alt tags throughout your website, and building inbound links from other relevant websites. All the small things you do will help you rank higher with search engines and improve your chances of potential customers finding you online.
4. Express Gratitude
Identify and recognize your top customers for what they are doing in the industry and for you. Interview them and write a customer story about their successes, then share it on your blog and social networks. Say “thank you” in a handwritten, personal thank you note. Not enough people do this anymore, so this simple action will make you stand out above the rest so they think of you for future purchases and referrals.
5. Use the Resources you have
Look at your system for lead follow-up to see how it can be stepped up to better nurture leads that are coming in. Take an inventory of all your marketing collateral, including past blog posts – what can be re-purposed or recycled into new and fresh content? Your greatest asset is your staff and their talents. How can you bring out the best in each and every one of them, so that your marketing continues to shine, with or without a hefty budget?
No matter what your marketing budget, be sure that you are the ant and not the grasshopper with your marketing plan. Don’t use a limited budget as an excuse to take a break in your marketing, use it as the reason to step it up. Try to implement some of these marketing tactics and see if it takes you to new and exciting waters!