So you need to promote your business but your marketing budget is slim. You're not the only one. Most small startups and new businesses face this problem. With limited capital, marketing and advertising is often outcast and given little attention. Luckily you don't need a ton of cash to get going. Here are six tips for making a marketing campaign work on a shoestring budget.
1) Create "How-To" Videos
No producer or director necessary, simple how-to videos are an easy way to spread socially and increase brand awareness. Record a short film showing your product in action and upload to your YouTube channel. Video content gets great traction on social, so be sure to share (or upload) to Facebook and Twitter as well. Not sure what kind of instructional video would work for your small business? Be creative! If you're a web design company that masters in WordPress, do a quick screen share showing how a client would easily add a post to their blog. Do you sell organic baked goods? Showcase your product as the star ingredient in a step-by-step video guide to baking organic oatmeal cookies.
2) Set Up a Referral Program
If you don't have the money to market yourself, why not let your customers do it for you? A referral program gives your customers incentive to spread the word about your business. Offer a discount or a freebie for reaching a certain amount of referrals. Remember this: Be sure you're gifting something you can afford to give. If your referral program becomes successful, you'll also want it to be scalable or you could be dishing out a lot of rewards.
3) Run Giveaways to Grab Email Addresses
Having a strong email database is a great asset to your business-but getting people to share their contact information can often be like pulling teeth. To butter them up, run a giveaway where those who fill out a contact form have the chance to win something from your company. Even just one giveaway could net you hundreds of signups. Having the giveaway run continuously throughout the year, and picking a winner every month or quarter, keeps the momentum going and your email database growing.
4) Host an Event
People love an excuse to get out and socialize, and they really love free stuff. Put together an event that allows you to showcase your business to a small but engaged audience. Offer free drinks and appetizers as an incentive to show up, and don't forget to give them a reason to come back. Whether that's a gift bag with samples of your products or vouchers towards future visits, you'll want to guarantee they remember your business and not just your party. If done well, for a couple hundred dollars you could secure your business a core group of loyal customers.
5) Hyper-Target Your Advertising
Running ads and sponsored posts on social media is always seductive to small businesses. The ability to reach such a large audience for such a small amount of money promises the kind of results that almost seem too good to be true. Which is why sometimes they are. Your best bet for running an effective campaign on social media is to hyper-target your ads. Do a little research to determine exactly who your target audience is (get as specific as possible). By targeting a small niche, you have a better chance of reaching that individual that is most likely to be interested in your company.
6) Utilize Email Marketing
Remember that email database I told you about? Here is where it comes to fruition. Email marketing not only allows you to directly reach your audience, but it brings a better chance of success since you are contacting people that have already shown interest in your business. Send out alerts when new products or services become available, or whenever you are holding a sale or promotion. This shoestring approach is a lifesaver because it's highly scalable and practically free to execute.