If you have a tight marketing budget, you are not alone. Many small business owners allocate a relatively small percentage of their revenue to marketing and advertising. Industry experts and business planners agree that small businesses with less than $5 million in annual revenue should spend between 5 and 8 percent of their revenue on marketing.
A bigger marketing budget typically generates a bigger ROI when the marketing strategy and creative messaging resonate with the target audience, but you do not need to break the bank to have an effective campaign. In this Balboa Capital blog post, we discuss five low-cost business marketing ideas that you may want to consider.
1. Get a Google My Business account.
It is a fact: 7 in 10 Americans conduct searches for local businesses and services on Google. Your customers and prospects are no different. They are most likely looking online for the same products or services that your small business sells. Having a Google My Business account can put your business front and center in search results and draw attention to your listing. Best of all, it is free to set up a Google My Business account.
Your Google My Business account lists all of the most important information about your business, including its address, telephone number, and hours of operation. You can also include your website link and pictures of your company. In addition, Google My Business lets your customers post online reviews of your business. The more positive reviews you accumulate, the more trust you will build, and this can help you generate more business.
2. Post on social media.
Having a strong social media presence is a great way to market your small business, and it is free. If you have not created a business account on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube, now is the time. If you already have business accounts on these platforms, make sure they have the same bios and information about your business. Next, your company logo and profile/header pictures need to be sized correctly for each social network, so follow their guidelines.
Running your business takes up most of your time, but posting on social media takes just a few minutes. Some of the best practices for social media include posting relevant news links, promoting your blog articles, conducting online polls, and engaging with your followers. If you want to schedule posts in advance, there are a number of affordable social media management tools to choose from.
3. Start an email campaign.
You might think that email marketing is time-intensive and expensive, but it is not. You can build your contact list by having a newsletter signup form on your website, or by offering a special incentive to paying customers who subscribe. There are many free and low-cost email marketing services available, some of which have email templates that can be customized with your brand logo and colors.
When crafting emails, keep them short and interesting, and make a point of including a special promotional offer or discount that encourages a purchase. Lastly, your email campaigns need to adhere to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. This law requires an opt-in and opt-out options for customers, and opt-out requests need to be honored within 10 to 30 days. Additionally, email subject lines cannot be false or deceptive.
4. Blog regularly.
Savvy small business owners understand that posting relevant content can help drive traffic to their websites. So, they hire freelance content writers or copywriters to write blog posts. Blogging can boost traffic, improve SEO, and help generate leads. In order to be effective, a blog post needs to cover a specific topic that is relevant to your business and your target audience. For example, if you own a winery, a blog post that discusses sustainable winemaking trends might generate clicks.
The jury is out on how long blog posts should be, but research shows that blog posts with 500 to 1,500 words often rank higher than posts with less than 500 words. It is worth mentioning that the structure of a blog post is very important. It should have a casual writing style and be broken up into multiple paragraphs that have H2 or H3 headers. SEO keywords should be incorporated in the blog post, along with internal links that point to relevant pages or other blog posts on your website.
5. Ask your customers for referrals.
Customer referrals are one of the cheapest and most effective ways to generate revenue. However, asking for referrals can make business owners and their employees feel awkward. Reason being, it might sound desperate or pushy, and being rejected can be embarrassing. If you do not feel comfortable asking for a referral at the time of sale, there are other options.
You can ask for referrals via email (if you have a customer database or CRM system) or on social media. Another option is to ask for referrals at the bottom of your receipts or invoices. To find out if this is an option, contact your POS system dealer or manufacturer.
Effectively marketing on a budget is possible. To get started, write down your marketing goals for the upcoming month, quarter or year, and think of how you can best achieve them with your budget. Once you establish a marketing budget, remember that it can be increased or decreased based on how your marketing strategies end up performing.