Let's be real: as a small or mid size business owner, you might not have a lot of cash on hand to spend on your marketing. At the same time, you know that marketing is a necessary component for your business development (or at least I hope you do). Don't fret- there are ways to effectively market your business on a small, manageable budget!
Here are 5 ways you can market your business on a budget:
1. Host Classes or Events
Engage with your local community and host events or classes that people can attend (in-person or virtually, whatever your city's covid guidelines allow). People are always trying to find things to do over the weekend - especially during this pandemic when everyone is trying to do anything but spend endless hours at home.
Provide your prospects and customers with a fun experience that will not only keep them entertained, but will also show how your products/services could be valuable and beneficial for them. Create and associate positive experiences with your products/services, and start building a relationship with your customers early by engaging with them in person through classes and events.
If you're selling candles, set up a candle making class.
If you're selling a packaged food product, teach people a recipe or partner up with local restaurants to hold an interactive event featuring your products.
If you're a serviced-based company, set up a webinar and teach others about your specialty.
2. Social Media Contests
People love free stuff. And people love winning! Why not give people the opportunity to win free stuff through social media?
Contests are a great way to increase awareness of your product and there are several ways you can approach this, depending on your marketing objective. You could:
Ask them to tag their friends: This introduces your products/services to their circle of friends.
Share it on their story: This spreads awareness to all of their followers- free media!
Submit photos/videos of your product (targeted to existing customers): This provides you with organic content to use on your channels. It also helps you build trust amongst prospects; people want to see that your existing customers are satisfied.
However, I would like to caution you to keep the ask simple. Yes, people can be motivated with incentives, but if you're asking them to do a lot (eg. all three of the above), the contest participation level is going to drop significantly.
In return, you could provide users with a chance to win your products/services, or to simply win cash value. You could also partner with other businesses or influencers to increase your visibility!
Contests are fun and effective as it gets people excited about your business.
I know I've mentioned TikTok before in my '5 Marketing Tips for Small Businesses' blog post and I'm mentioning it again because it's FREE.
What is TikTok? It's a social media platform where users can generate videos up to 15 seconds in duration (you can also combine 15 second videos to make a 60 second TikTok). People watch and interact with videos by scrolling through their individualized feeds (tailored for specific users by TikTok's algorithm).
What I love most about TikTok is that the algorithm gives users with a small number of followers opportunities to go viral. The strongest indicator that helps TikTok's algorithm understand the type of content you like, according to this TikTok press release, is the duration you spend watching the video. This is why it's easier for accounts with a small number of followers to get tens of thousands of views compared to other platforms such as YouTube or Instagram.
A lot of small businesses have grown their brand awareness and following from TikTok, and you can too. Of course, you should evaluate whether this platform is the right one for your business. If your target audience is older than 40, then TikTok may not be appropriate given the average audience falls within the range of 16 to 34. If you're targeting a younger demographic, there is potential.
If you haven't already, download TikTok and give it a try!
Examples of how you can use TikTok for your business development:
Show how your products are made - example
Show how you package your products (especially if your products are hand crafted) - example
Educate people about the specialty you provide services for - example
Answer frequently asked questions about your products or services - example
4. Don't Forget Your Existing Customers
Did you know that it's cheaper for you to keep your existing customers than to acquire new customers? It can actually cost you up to 5 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one, according to a study done by Bain & Company.
How to market to existing customers:
Market them similar products/services to what they have already purchased. Your customers are already sold on your products/services, and understand the quality that you deliver. Chances are, they may also be equally interested in new similar products!
Send them useful content and encourage them to share it with their friends. For example, if your product is a kitchen tool, send them recipes that require that specific tool. By being the thought leader in your industry/niche, you're building customer trust and brand loyalty.
Get your customers to help you out:
Ask for testimonials. Increase your online rating by asking for a review! Online reviews impact purchasing decisions for over 93% of consumers, so get on it.
Ask for referrals. Word-of-mouth is a huge marketing tactic that is highly effective as recommendations often come from trusted sources. Incentivize your existing customers with a discount or by having them refer a friend!
A lot of businesses stop marketing to existing customers and this is a huge opportunity loss.
5. Micro Influencers
Micro influencers are typically categorized as influencers with 1,000 to 10,000 followers on Instagram. They are known to have a specific niche that they post about, and tend to have highly engaged followers
Don't undermine micro influencers (i.e. Instagram accounts with less than 10,000 followers) in your local community or product niche! A common misconception is that macro influencers (i.e. greater than 10,000 followers) have high engagement rates. A macro influencer's large following does not necessarily mean his/her followers are actively engaged with his/her content.
In fact, Marketly did a study on this and found that after influencers surpass 1,000 followers, the higher number of following, the lower the like rate.
CONTACT A MICRO INFLUENCER. Pitching your product to a micro influencer at a budget suitable for you could reap huge benefits. For example, advertising your product to a following of 5,000 engaged potential customers by a trusted source could be a fantastic opportunity to gain exposure.
TIP: Make sure to get a gauge of the influencer's follower engagement (and whether or not he/she bought their followers) through his/her post comments.
SECOND TIP: Remember, influencers are everywhere. Start by determining which platform is more suitable for your business (TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and/or online blogs). Then try to find a suitable influencer on your intended platform!
In summary, here are five suggestions to help you market your business on a budget:
Host events and/or classes
Hold social media contests
Take advantage of TikTok's free platform to market your product(s)/service(s)
Engage with your existing customers
Target micro influencers to help you get exposure