It is possible to market your business with little to no budget when you're first starting, or if your marketing budget has been cut recently.
If you haven't already, check out Part I of this series: 'How to Market Your Business on a Budget'. A few people found this quite helpful, so here's Part II! I hope that it'll spark up some creative ideas that you can use to grow your business.
Previously, we covered these 5 ways to 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
Today, let's talk about these 5 additional ways you can market your business with little to no budget:
1. Give a Sample of What You Offer
Remember how I mentioned people love free stuff in my previous blog post? Let's take it one step further and actually offer people a sample of your product or service.
Hold on! I'm not recommending you to give out a full-sized product to people or to create a full social media plan for someone. I mean, you can if you want... but that's most likely going to be time-consuming and costly for your business.
I'm referring to a small sample of your products or services to give people a sense of the quality of your products and leave them wanting more. This is an old but effective technique to engage with your customers directly.
If you're a product-based business, you can offer free samples of your products at your storefront if your goal is to acquire new customers (depending on covid restrictions of course). Or, you can include a product sample of other products that your customer might like with each order.
If you're a service-based business, offer a 30-minute consultation where you offer helpful tips specific to your prospect's business and leave them needing your help to execute your advice.
Make that small investment! How are people going to trust that your quality of products and services?
2. Blog Posts
Blogging is a content marketing tactic that is a popular and free way to engage with your audience. By writing about topics related to your product or service niche, you're building trust with your audience and it positions you as the thought leader in your field.
When your customers are ready to make the move, the chances that they'll reach out to the business that has offered them great tips and advice is higher.
However, anyone and everyone can write a blog. One key thing you should factor into your blog writing is SEO. Here are four quick SEO tips for your blog writing:
Choose a topic that your audience is looking for answers to
Use SEO keywords
Min. number of words should exceed 300 words
When referencing topics you've written about, or research from other sources, hyperlink it
To learn more, check out Method and Metric's blog that has plenty of helpful articles on everything SEO-related.
Don't forget to:
Add an email subscription form to your blog post
Add call-to-actions on your blog to subscribe to your newsletter or check out your products/services
3. Collaborate with Other Businesses
Help each other out! Partner up with businesses in the same or related niches. With Partnership Marketing, you have the opportunity to tap into a new audience base or market through another business. If you're new, there are plenty of businesses that would love to support local small businesses so take advantage of that.
Be bold and reach out to other entrepreneurs, brainstorm on how you can collaborate. Here are a few ideas to spark your creativity:
Gift box package with products from both businesses (Eg. Candle business + soap business collaborate to provide a combination gift box)
Bundled service packages (Eg. Graphic designer + Web developer collaborate to provide a full website package)
Contest giveaway collaboration
4. Newsworthy News
Is your product/service an out-of-the-box idea? Releasing a news release can earn you free media! However, this tactic is not for everyone, as media outlets will only pick up newsworthy stories.
Consult with a marketing professional to get advice on whether you should or should not put any effort into this if you are unsure whether it's newsworthy.
If your product/service is innovative, consider writing a news release and contact media outlets to see if they would be interested to help you spread brand awareness. Start with local outlets that are more likely to pick up your news story, and if one picks up, it increases the likelihood that other outlets will pick it up as well.
In my first year of marketing, I worked with UmbraCity, an innovative Umbrella Share startup that launched at the University of British Columbia. I wrote a news release and contacted as many media outlets as I could (Note: I had no personal connections with any of them). Several news outlets were instantly picked up, including Daily Hive Vancouver, Vancouver Sun, Business Insider, Straight.com, Bloomberg, and more. The total budget spent on spreading brand awareness for Umbracity using this tactic was zero dollars!
The biggest thing about writing a news release is evaluating whether it will get traction from news outlets. Writing a news release is not like writing a regular blog post. There are recommended layouts and helpful articles on how you can structure and write an effective news release that you can learn from if you're new to writing news releases.
5. Network & Be Resourceful
You've probably heard people say networking is one of the most important things to do when you own a small business. This is definitely more relevant if you're a service-based business.
These are a few tips on how you can effectively network:
Be genuinely interested in what the other person is talking about
Ask insightful questions about them and their career
Offer helpful tips and advice in your field that can help them with their goals
Try to add value to the other person's life in some shape or form
When you show kindness to others, it will be reciprocated. Some would call this, good karma! ✨
Depending on the service or product and your business goals, these tactics we've gone through might be all you need. However, if you're looking to increase your growth potential, invest in marketing. Hire a professional to help strategize how you should structure your messaging and efforts.