Even in what many consider volatile economic times, executives around the world are spending prodigiously on marketing their businesses. According to a 2018 CMO survey by Deloitte, Duke University, and the American Marketing Association, marketing budgets are expected to grow in the next year and reliance on marketing analytics is up by 30 percent.
Not every company has consistent revenue though to cover all those marketing costs. Many startups and even medium-sized companies don't have a ton of cash coming in, so they need get creative.
Here are 12 ways to market your business even if you have no budget at all.
1. Have an elevator pitch.
If anyone should ask you what you do, know how to give a condensed 30-second speech about your business. Include who you serve -- and ask what you can personally do for them.
Having an elevator pitch is one of the easiest ways to network and obtain new leads and customers without spending a dime.
2. Engage with influencers in your niche.
With social media use at an all-time high -- take advantage. Find in your niche and engage with their content. Their followers will come to know you -- through them. It'll help you form relationships with the influencers themselves.
They may remember your engagement -- want to work with you -- and give you a shout-out when you approach them about your business.
3. Create videos.
According to data from Cisco, about 82 percent of worldwide internet traffic will involve video by 2021. Smartphones easily record videos that you can post on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter -- for free. To take it a step further, record longer videos for YouTube and place them on your website.
4. Take advantage of free networking events.
You don't have to pay anything to find free networking events in your area. Eventbrite and Meetup have filters that let you find free events near you, and you can customize them to fit your niche. Don't forget to bring your business cards and follow up with those you meet after events.
5. Use LinkedIn.
According to a study that Hubspot updated this year, LinkedIn is 277 percent more effective for visitor-to-lead conversion than Facebook and Twitter. People underestimate LinkedIn. It's a no brainer to market your business using it.
6. Create a referral program.
Word-of-mouth still works. Offer a referral program for your loyal customers and clients that refer you to someone else. This shows your appreciation for current customers, and generates hot leads because you've come highly recommended.
7. Praise your competitors.
Many have been taught to never bash a competitor while some choose not to engage with competitors at all. Praising your competitors makes you look like a confident and decent business owner.
This is the right thing to do in the first place -- and can give you the opportunity to be featured by competitors as well.
8. Offer a free product/service.
Consumers love free stuff. Offer a free low end product or service. Going "freemium" saves money on marketing -- gains new leads -- and creates a sales funnel to bring in more income.
You don't need to offer your most expensive service for free. Give them enough to see how valuable your product is, but still leave them wanting more.
9. Create an email signature.
Sending a lot of emails on a regular basis? Market yourself and your business through your email signature. Include your name, position, website, social media, and even a product/service you can offer with a discount code.
10. Cold pitch.
Cold pitching is great when you're a service-based business -- or when you're trying to get your product placed in a local or national business.
Curate an email that grabs the target's attention. Combine this with personal details or flattering research about them -- and send it off. The worst anyone can do is say, "no." You might just reach a few who like what you have to offer.
Volunteer for a cause you're passionate about -- and don't be afraid to wear a shirt that has your logo or business name on it. You'll be making a difference while getting your name out there.
12. Send thank you emails.
Always send thank you emails to customers and clients -- and to businesses you've worked with and enjoyed. Sending a personalized email puts you back in their view, which can mean an extra sale or referral. Emailing is free -- and doesn't take a ton of time away from you.
While some of these steps may take time -- most are a creative collision course to building more trust and relationships with your audience and customers. These communications can be critical in helping you market your business when you don't have the money to spend -- yet.