Small businesses and startups view marketing as a potential budget buster and something that can drain the limited financial resources they have. This is true to some extent. Paid media channels including top social media platforms, advertising events and celebrity brand ambassadors all cost money. If you try for what is beyond your budget, then marketing might result in spiraling expenses.
It is necessary that small businesses seek out creative marketing channels that will deliver the maximum bang for their buck. Deciding on the apt channels also requires extensive research and market study. Unless you have a clear and exact picture of your target market, delivering the right marketing message will not be possible.
The key is to take into account the apt revenue model, the potential customer profile, the profile of existing customers and scope for expansion, and tailor a campaign that suits your business. You should also be aware of methods to leverage your network.
Here are a few tips for you to get your marketing game spot-on and on-budget.
1. Get a Famous Supporter
If you are working in a high-profile industry, consider asking your popular friends to endorse your product. For example, Twitter gained massive popularity in the early days because a few celebrities like Oprah and Ashton Kutcher gave it a thumbs up. It was more of Twitter approaching the visible names out there to open an account than them deciding to use Twitter because it made them look cool. Instagram had Jack Dorsey as one of its early proponents. As you can see, once the initial traction is built you will be able to leverage it in a massive way.
Not every business is lucky to hit the sweet spot in marketing early on in its life. But if you can manage to build a strong connect with your early users, you will be able to build on it.
2. Early Customers Are Your Brand Ambassadors
Remember that your first users or early customers are your best brand ambassadors. If you are selling a service or a product in a small locality, strong word-of-mouth publicity is all you need to win traction.
It is not easy to build an early user base because modern customers have more choices than ever before. If they have to choose your product over others, you need to ‘show’ why they need to do so. Your product must have a strong USP and there must be very visible value in using your product. If you can personally approach early customers and validate the benefit of using your product/service, your chances of gaining early users will improve significantly.
3. Give Away Freebies
Early traction cannot be built until and unless people use your stuff and discover how good it is. Under Armour, for example, gave away free shirts to football teams. The players were so impressed with the sweat-wicking quality of the shirts that the company ended up winning 2 NFL team contracts.
Many apps start out as free versions. This is because developers want as much early traction as possible. Early users also give valuable feedback and reviews that can be implemented to better the app. After a robust user base is built, you can consider monetizing your product. Revenue models vary from up-front costs to download, in-app advertising and gated features to blended models and sponsorships.
If you are selling homemade chocolates, for instance, hold contests in schools and give away freebies to win recognition among kids. Giveaway trial packs at events or at cookery workshops. Start a YouTube channel that gives the audience an inside view of how your delicious cookies are crafted. Also, give away freebies that can be availed online to catch customer attention. The more innovative, generous and engaging your early market outreach activities are, the better will be your chances of building an engaged audience.
4. Be a Part of Industry Shows and Events
Businesses and markets are constantly evolving. It is necessary to keep pace with the latest developments and news in your circuit. If you are good at networking, you have a great chance of knowing the pulse of the market. You will get to know about the latest mergers, sell-offs and acquisitions. An informed small business owner will have more ideas up his sleeve, should his business ever come face-to-face with a problem.
Volunteer to speak at industry events, networking workshops, trade fairs and conferences. Once you are recognized as an expert in your field, you will be able to build brand value for your business and leverage your growing influence in your niche.
Also, remember that you are not networking for selfish needs. You need to help others and share your knowledge to enable other businesses to grow. If time permits, you can also mentor smaller ventures and help solve entrepreneurial issues affecting them. Your role and help will not be forgotten and will help you earn goodwill in your industry. Your brand will be associated with positivity and your personality and character traits will rub off on it as well. Doing so will make it easier for you to find investors as well.
5. Craft Content
Though millions of blog posts are published every day, a study by Content Marketing Institute says that 91% of top performing marketers are extremely or very committed to content marketing as a critical component in their marketing activities. There is no doubt that innovative and engaging content marketing helps generate leads, drive sales and nurture leads regardless of the crowded blogosphere. So invest in long-form blog posts to leverage the potential of content marketing.
Depending on the nature of your business, you must also consider visual content and infographics because they are among the most viewed and shared content forms on social networks.
A couple of hours every day are all that is required to craft at least one quality blog post on a weekly basis. You can also consider outsourcing content creation if you can afford it.
Small businesses will not find it easy to allocate thousands of dollars to high-voltage marketing campaigns. But with creativity, originality and enthusiasm, you can leverage the Internet as well as your personal capacities to craft a rewarding marketing strategy.