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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. The Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends that small businesses with less than $5 million in annual revenue should allocate between 7 and 8 percent of their revenue on marketing, as reported in the Houston Chronicle¹. Plus, it is essential to see what your competitors are doing. Savvy business owners always develop new marketing ideas to help capture market share.
A marketing plan with a bigger budget generates a higher ROI when the marketing strategy and creative messaging resonate with the target audience. Still, you do not need to break the bank to have an effective campaign. This Balboa Capital blog post discusses five low-cost business marketing ideas you may want to consider.
1. Get a Google™ account.
Most Americans search 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 your small business sells. That is why the number-one item on our marketing ideas list is a Google™ account for your business. It can put your business front and center in search results and draw attention to your listing. Best of all, setting up a Google™ account is free.
Your Google™ account lists all of the essential information about your business, including its address, telephone number, and hours of operation. You can also include your website link and pictures of your business. 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, which can help you generate more business.
2. Post on social media.
Nothing is easier on your budget than zero-cost marketing ideas. A strong social media presence is a great way to market your small business, and it is free. Now is the time if you have not created a business account on the most popular social networks. If you already have business accounts, ensure they have the same bios and information about your business. Next, your business logo and profile header pictures must 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. In addition, if you want to schedule posts in advance, there are some affordable social media management tools to choose from.
3. Start an email campaign.
You might think 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 offering a special incentive to paying customers who subscribe. In addition, many free and low-cost email marketing services are 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 include a special promotional offer or discount that encourages a purchase. Lastly, your email campaigns need to adhere to the CAN-SPAM Act. This law requires opt-in and opt-out options for customers, and opt-out requests must be honored within 10 to 30 days. Additionally, email subject lines cannot be false or deceptive.
4. Blog regularly.
Posting relevant content is one of the best marketing ideas because it can help drive website traffic. That is why many small business owners hire freelance content writers or copywriters to write blog posts. Blogging can boost traffic, improve SEO, and help generate leads. A blog post must cover a specific topic relevant to your business and target audience. For example, a blog post that discusses sustainable winemaking trends might generate clicks if you own a winery.
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 essential. It should have a casual writing style and be broken into multiple paragraphs with H2 or H3 headers. SEO keywords should be included 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 employees feel awkward. The reason is 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. Contact your POS system dealer or manufacturer to find out if this is an option.
Effectively marketing on a budget is possible. To start, write down your marketing ideas and 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 perform.
Balboa Capital, a Division of Ameris Bank, is not affiliated with nor endorses the Small Business Administration or Google. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.