As the person heading a small business, you probably ask yourself this often - Do I really need to spend so much time and money on marketing my business?
Marketing is crucial to every business. It gets your business through the clutter and introduces you to your target audience. Hence, a considerable part of your resources should be used for marketing or promoting your business.
But what do you do when your business is still finding its feet and you don’t have money like the big names of your industry? When it comes to saving their team’s time, a lot of small businesses employ various marketing tools to automate marketing processes. As for saving money, you must use your resources to their maximum potential with strategic planning and execution.
Keep reading to learn about some marketing ideas that can bring you good Return On Investment (ROI) without burning a hole in your pocket. Let’s get started.
1. Content is (still) the King
A piece of content that is well researched and well written has the potential to drive humongous traffic, leads, and sales.
To craft such content, the first step is to identify the right keywords. You can use tools like Ahrefs or Moz to identify the keywords your competitors are ranking for. Once you find out these keywords, you need to outdo them with better content. The best part, most of these tools provide free trial options. All you have to invest in is a good writer.
Next, promote the content on all your social media accounts. If you are finding it difficult to reach your audience through just social, consider cross-promotion. You can collaborate with another relevant business, promote them through your content and vice-versa. For instance, if you are marketing a SaaS (software as a service) product, you can team up with another SaaS company (not a competitor, obviously) to promote each other.
You can even refurbish this content later - create a video and share it. Apart from this, you can publish the content on high authority guest posting sites in your niche. The process is absolutely free and gives you better exposure and some quality leads too.
Brands like Cisco and DemandBase are perfect examples of using the power of content marketing and social media to grow their brand.
2. Use Visuals to Make the Content Easy-to-Consume
If you talk about the early-SEO days, one could have easily made their way to higher search engine rankings with ‘all text and no visuals’ kind of content. But if you think you can succeed with this old-school strategy in 2018 (and 2019), you don’t stand a chance.
Today, words are not enough. A 2018 HubSpot survey says “54% of consumers wanted to see more video content from a brand or business they support.” Also, consider this: “adding visual into your content can increase the chances of information remembered after 3 days to 65% from 10%”, says a research by Brainrules. Hence, if you wish to leave a long-lasting impression, your content must have good visuals.
If you are writing a blog post, create an interesting video which tells your audience about the topic in a concise manner. While sending an email about a Christmas sale, design an attention-grabbing image and add it right at the top. If you plan to run a social media campaign, design visuals accordingly.
The gist is, whatever you do, your aim should be to make it memorable. With free graphic designing tools like Canva, you can create beautiful visuals like blog graphics, social media posts, banners, ebook covers, and much more.
Oreo is the first name that comes to my mind when I think of great visual marketing strategies. With interesting videos and images, their profile is definitely worth drooling over.
Other brands rocking this strategy are Disney and Starbucks.
3. Leverage the Power of Infographics
Adding to the previous point, if you have interesting data handy, share it ‘visually’ in the form of an infographic. Need I say, an infographic attracts not only backlinks but interest, too. Infographics are a great way of improving your search rankings, in turn getting you free organic traffic.
For this strategy, you’ll have to invest in a designer. In case you don’t want to, your team can use tools like Venngage, Infogram and again Canva to easily translate the data into visually effective infographics, and drive traffic and engagement.
One good example of a brand using infographics is Incapsula. The brand converts its research into interesting data stories and tells them via infographics.
Other brands you can check out are Jobvite and Course Hero.
4. Participate in Facebook Groups
If you want to connect with your potential customers without spending a penny, Facebook groups are your go-to place. Facebook groups are places where specific people share and exchange information about specific topics. If you are helping them with this information, you can end up attracting attention.
But to execute this strategy effectively, you must identify right groups that are not only relevant but active too. A group with no interaction or consistency is of no use. A group where people are sharing posts frequently and interacting actively - by making comments on each other’s posts - would be ideal for you.
Once you have a list of highly active and relevant groups, the next part is to share relevant information. Make sure to use the 80/20 rule here. You don’t want to seem pushy. Additionally, engage yourself in conversations. The best way to build awareness is to talk to people.
Many of you might know how Edgerank Algorithm works but do you know that it works for group posts, too. If your post starts attracting more reactions and comments, it will automatically be shown to more members of the group.
For instance, the Digital Marketing Strategies For Entrepreneurs is one such group wherein digital marketers and entrepreneurs share ideas, tools, deals, and foster a community of their own. Today, the group has over 3,500 members.
5. Build your Social Presence Smartly
When you are working with a small budget, it is very important to spend it smartly. By now, you must have identified your target audience and the specific social platforms where they are active. So, why spend so much time and resources on maintaining your presence across all platforms? Instead of trying to be omnipresent, focus on mastering some specific platforms.
The key here is to select the top two to three social platforms where most of your target users participate actively. Say, your target audience consists of youth or college students - Snapchat or Instagram would work best for you. On the other hand, if you want to target millennial men, your focus should be on Twitter and Youtube. If you are a B2B organization whose target audience is the C-suite (CEOs, CFOs etc.), Linkedin would be the perfect platform for you to focus on.
6. Turn your Brand into an SME
A Subject Matter Expert (SME) is a person who has expert knowledge about what goes into doing a particular job or accomplishing a task. In this case, you won’t be marketing your product or services. You’ll be marketing yourself as a brand. Establishing your brand as an SME will make your clients or customers take your word for it. They will look up to you for advice, guidance, and expertise.
Say, you own a restaurant. You can begin with writing columns, articles or reviews for lifestyle magazines. If you are into web design and development, you can hold free workshops in relevant colleges and universities. Sharing your experience and knowledge earns your brand some good attention and builds trust. Using this strategy in sync with your inbound marketing campaign can get you a lot more conversions than email or telemarketing. What’s more? Eventually, you’ll become a leader and an influencer in your niche.
7. Create Exclusive Offers for Social Media
Building a loyal social media following is half the battle won. To win the other half, you must figure out how you can convert these followers into customers. Creating specific offers for your social media followers is one great way of doing just that. By driving sales for your business while simultaneously keeping your audience engaged, this strategy has worked well for many businesses.
All you have to do is provide certain discounts to followers. You can bring out flash deals - the time limit encourages quick actions on the followers’ part. You can also create offers that encourage people to buy more products from you or buy yearly subscriptions for your service. These offers can be promoted in the form of posts, Stories (for Facebook and Instagram), or ads.
Dominos is one such brand that keeps sharing exclusive offers for its followers on social. They surely know how to bank on people’s need for pizzas and saving money.
8. Organize Social Media Contests
Another great marketing strategy for your social is to organize contests. Contests require your followers to participate in some manner which (for you) means driving engagement. Hopefully, these followers will recommend their friends and colleagues to participate, too.
Don’t forget to come up with a catchy hashtag for the contest - hashtags have good recall value. Next, think about the kind of contest you wish to organize - you can ask users to contribute some content, you can ask them to share their personal stories or you can ask them to come up funny answers.
No matter what kind of contest you put up, the incentive you are providing your followers is very important. That’s the reason they will be participating in your contest. So, choose a good incentive - offer discounts, free coupons, a chance to be the first one to try your product/service etc.
The famous beauty brand Dove recently held a very successful Facebook campaign named Real Beauty Should Be Shared. The winners didn’t get any money, instead, they became the next faces of Dove.
9. Get your Business on Quora
Quora is the place people go to get suggestions and solutions. Your potential customers might be there, too. You can use this platform not only to identify your customers’ pain points, but also to propose valuable solutions. This, in turn, helps you build a personal brand and drive traffic to your website.
Many SMB owners use Quora to perform industry research. You, too, can use Quora to get answers for questions like:
- What is your target audience looking for?
- What problems are your potential customers facing?
If your brand can get itself to answer these questions in an authentic way while explaining how your product/service provides solutions. And the best part, the site is absolutely free!
See how Wishpond grew their traffic by answering popular questions on Quora.
Wrapping it up!
As you see, a small budget cannot (and should not) hold you from making a considerable impact through marketing. If you have any more small budget marketing ideas that you have employed for your business, please do share them with me in the comments below.