5 Ways To Market Your Small Business On A Shoestring

Successful Marketing

While we all knew that the Brexit vote may have an adverse, short-term impact on the performance of the UK economy, few could have predicted how sudden and how steep the decline would be.

After the value of the pound plummeted consumer confidence sank to its lowest level in 26 years, business sentiment also fell to -47 with companies in the manufacturing and financial service sectors particularly badly hit.

This is according to a recent CBI report, which also revealed falling export for the last financial quarter.

Of course, it would be wrong to solely blame this decline on the looming shadow of Brexit, as the British economy had been contracting gradually since the turn of the year.

Business sentiment was therefore bound to be affected, although the issue that remains is that many companies and SMEs will be loathed to invest in growth in the current climate.

This will force many into a period of consolidation, although a select few may choose to pursue more cost-effective ways of increasing output, driving more sales and marketing their brand.

 

Simple Ways to Market your Business and Brand on a Shoestring

The latter point is particularly relevant, as the ability to successfully market products and services is key to helping businesses survive periods of economic austerity.

So although some will argue that it is exceptionally difficult to effectively market your business on a shoestring, we believe that an appreciation of technological innovation and an aptitude for thinking creatively makes this a viable possibility.

Here are 5 tips to help you get started: –

 

#1 – Focus on Digital Marketing and Social Media

Social Media

Let’s face facts; traditional advertising mediums are beyond the budgets of most small businesses, particularly those associated with television. After all, the cost of procuring air-time slots is prohibitive, with primetime positions likely to sell for between £250,000 and £350,000.

This is where digital marketing can come to the fore, as this tends to includes affordable or free-to-access channels that allows brands to optimise their reach while controlling their spending.

These include social media channels, which connect brands with a global audience and through a number of real-time communications channels.

By leveraging these channels and creating a tailored, integrated digital presence based on your audience, you can develop marketing campaigns that are both cost-effective and targeted.

However, social media can be a great source of generating leads and customers, but you should also consider keeping a close-tab on the engagement from your audience and replying to comments, reviews, direct messages and even complaints.

Over 70% of companies ignore customer complaints on Twitter and that can leave a detrimental impact on your business, that’s why its crucial that you should make the most of positive and negative reviews and you don’t make the same customer service mistakes.

Instead, use social media as a proactive marketing medium.

 

#2 – Create a Video-on-demand (VOD) to Market your Brand

Video on Demand - Youtube

On a similar note, VODs can also be used to effectively target customers through the digital medium. This is a modern advertising method that melds the best of both television and digital media, while it is also affordable and drives costs in relation to viewership levels.

Sites such as YouTube and Vimeo are the perfect place to host your VODs, before you embed and share them through affiliated websites.

This ensures that your video receives the optimal level of coverage while also minimising costs (other than those associated with production, of course).

This type of on-demand content is costed at a fixed rate per thousand views, so it is relatively to budget far and capable of delivering far higher and more measurable returns than traditional media.

 

#3 – Start Blogging and Become and Industry Leader

Blogging

While digital practices such as blogging and social media were once considered an entirely separate entities, they are now part of a seamless and integrated digital strategy.

This creates numerous opportunities in terms of leveraging and actively sharing blog content, while also developing a marketing tool that can inform, intrigue and ultimately engage potential customers.

This starts with the establishment of a relevant and regularly updated blog, as you initially focus on creating one weekly blog post between 1000-2000 words.

But why so many words?

Well, long-form content results in higher rankings in search results – and this is one of many benefits it can bring.

This content should then be shared across your own social networks, with the use of hashtags and engaging descriptions enabling you to capture the attention of readers and extend your reach.

You can then look to add you to the depth and appeal of your blog by featuring industry experts as guest writers, as this potentially targets new customers while introducing a fresh perspective on familiar topics.

Similarly, you can contribute content to industry and trade magazines, using your own expertise to inform a targeted audience. This often costs nothing other than time and effort, whereas traditional adverts in these publications carry a huge price premium and are often prohibitive.

Not sure how to find these authoritive sites?

We’ll make it easy for you – here are 140 guest blogging sites split by topic.

 

#4 – Invest in People as Brand Advocates

Staff Member Working

Investment in people is a common term in the world of business, but the benefits of this practice are often lost among the cost implications of training and development.

These advantages outweigh the cumulative cost of educating employees and establishing a strong company culture, particularly when your spending can be spread across a considerable period of time and you are able to focus on encouraging your staff members to buy into a particular set of brand values.

One of the main advantages of investing time in the development of your staff members and a company culture is that it creates motivated brand advocates within the business.

As the values of your brand are gradually imparted on employees, they begin to embody these and organically market them to friends, loved ones and the people that they meet on a daily basis.

This is a particularly effective and natural marketing tool in 2016, as we live in an age where consumers are more aware than ever before and largely cynical of corporations.

 

#5 – Meet People and Embrace Interpersonal Communication

Networking

In the digital age, the concept of interpersonal marketing is one that is all too often ignored.

This is the simple but cost-effective process of communicating with people in person to share brand values and a core, marketing message, whether you engage in this practice to retain and attract talent or reach out to customers.

In terms of the former, interpersonal networking events are an excellent resource, as they can be organised through outlets such as Meetup.com which connect local business owners with people who share like-minded goals and ambitions.

When it comes to marketing your business within the local community, one of your best bets is to collaborate with local charities and give back to those who are less fortunate than yourself.

You achieve this through numerous ways, whether your staff participate in local initiatives or you choose to designate 5% of your cumulative earnings to charity.

This can lead to a great deal of free publicity, employee benefits, tax deductions and word-of-mouth referrals.

Either way, these interpersonal marketing methods drive positive brand awareness and create numerous opportunities in relation to sales and recruitment.

 

The Last Word

These simple and cost-effective steps can stand you in good stead as a business-owner, particularly if you operate an SME or simply want to minimise risk in a difficult climate. They will also encourage you to think outside the box as a marketer, as you constantly look for new and innovative ways to position your brand.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.