High impact marketing doesn’t have to come with a huge price tag. In an unstable economy where the competition is high and the future uncertain, the value of strategic thinking far outweighs the value of big budgets.
With a bit of knowledge and an insight into your customers you can successfully create a low budget marketing campaign that delivers for your business.
Where do you begin? As any marketer would tell you, start with the customer.
1. Choose the right target market
Finding the right target for your budget-smart marketing campaign is crucial. Every business has several potential target markets. Some of them are worth pursuing while others are not.
Do your research and make sure that the market you choose is both interested in your offering and easy to reach. Identify your target market by their purchasing habits and needs rather than trying to segment by geographic location, socioeconomic status, age, sex or other superficial factors.
2. Use multiple channels
It is important to maximise brand awareness and ensure potential consumers see your message in more than one place. You should therefore make use of several different marketing channels, rather than spending the entire budget on one channel. For example customers can read about your company in the newspaper, see you on social media, attend an event you organise, take home a brochure, visit your website or receive your e-newsletter.
3. Online marketing
Your website is a marketing tool in itself. Optimise your website for search engines and create a website that’s easy to navigate and doesn’t confuse your customers. It is also important to develop the right language to speak to your customers, and communicate in a way that will resonate with your target.
A blog on your website is another way to drive traffic. Being on the first page of Google’s search results is vital – it is often said that the best place to hide a dead body is on page two of Google’s search results – and the more posts you create, the higher you will feature in the results. The key is to provide valuable information which is relevant to your consumers. The second most important thing is to make the content engaging.
4. Social media marketing
Social media channels are now an inescapable part of marketing. If you haven’t used social media as a marketing tool already, you should at least begin with one channel such as Facebook.
Post promotions and special deals, engage with your fans and use Facebook as a way to communicate with customers who have questions. Facebook ads are another low cost way to market online, however, learning how to develop an ad that’s effective with the right market segment does take time and effort.
Twitter can be used as a way to connect with customers in real time and provide instantaneous customer service. It can also be used as a free form of market research: just follow the people who fit into the description of your target market and see what they are talking about. This can help you come up with consumption patterns and hints for how to speak to your customers.
5. Affiliate marketing
If you don’t have the money to spend on marketing, you can always create partnerships with other businesses to help you market your offering. With this strategy you get the benefit of exposing your brand to more people and in return give your partner a cut of each sale that goes through their channel.
Examples of affiliate marketing include registering for an event using a promotional code to receive a discount. The margin between the discount and the original price is the cut for your partner.
6. Email marketing
Email marketing is one of the most affordable forms of online marketing available, which makes it a perfect strategy for SMEs to master. It can include emails with special offers, ads, regular e-newsletters or any other messages that promote your service and are delivered through email.
7. Networking and speaking opportunities
If you’re a B2B business you may find this option particularly relevant. With a bit of strategy behind networking you can put yourself into places where opportunities are available.
Similarly if you can position yourself as an expert in your industry and for the type of product/service you are offering customers will come to you, instead of the other way around.
Part of positioning yourself as an expert means looking for speaking opportunities at events and conferences where your customers may potentially be.
8. Use your existing customers as a marketing tool
Make sure that your customer service is perfect and that no customer has an excuse to complain about your business. Satisfied customers can promote your business to their networks through word of mouth, which can be more effective than a regular marketing campaign.
Look to your existing resources and networks when you are planning your marketing budget. Don’t attempt to go beyond your means in hope that it will pay off by bringing in herds of customers. That’s an assumption your business can’t afford to make.
Instead be money wise and trial your budget marketing campaign to see what works and what doesn’t. Learn from your mistakes and then invest more money into the strategies that have given you the most return.