By Kevin Foster
When times get tough for small businesses, one of the first things you can look to cut back on is your marketing budget. Of course, getting the word out about your venture is essential, especially in a tough economic climate, but there are still plenty of ways to create that much-needed buzz for your biz even if you don’t have a wealth of capital at your disposal. If you’re dealing with limited marketing funds, read on for 5 ways to make the most of a small marketing budget.
1. Devote Time to Social Media
Social media does not require much, in any, of a financial investment, making it perfect for businesses operating on a budget. If you already have a solid Facebook and Twitter presence, investigate some of the newer social sharing sites to hit the market. Pinterest, Google Plus, Instagram, and even StumbleUpon are all viable options. Just be sure that as you expand you keep a close eye on your content, as it should be high-quality at all times.
2. Seek Out Free Public Relations
Getting free PR for your business starts by building relationships. Check out the website Meetup for local gatherings of journalists or contact a few members of the local media directly. Don’t simply start by asking for an opportunity, just get to know your contacts and tell them about your business. When the time is right, inquire about an interview opportunity, whether in print, on TV, or the radio. To make things easier on them, come up with proposed questions and answers on your own. It just might be the small added benefit you need to land the interview.
3. Network More
If you expand your circle of professional contacts, you may be able to drum up some decent advertising by bartering your own services. If you run a PC repair shop, offer to do diagnostics for a local advertising agency in return for print ad design or other marketing service. If you’re working on a tight budget you’re going to have to get a little creative to make it work.
4. Get Involved in Your Community
There are usually plenty of marketing options at local stores you can take advantage of if you don’t have the cash for a grander initiative. Even setting up a booth at a local festival and giving away swag with your business logo on it is a great low-cost means of informing the community. Raffle off some free products or services at a school or church function as well to engage local customers.
5. Shared Bus Stop Advertising
Taking out a small ad on a bus stop bench or even on a covered station is much cheaper than going with a billboard. To decrease your expenses even more, find a partner in your area who runs a business similar to yours. Come up with a dual advertising strategy and you essentially get your advertising space at half-price.
After these strategies are in place, if you still feel you need more marketing funds, look to other areas of your business to cut costs. Get your office supplies for free or at a deep discount by signing up for the customer loyalty program at your preferred retailer. Get an energy audit done for recommendations on how to cut utility expenses at your office. And always remember that providing excellent customer service is one of the best and most affordable marketing strategies of all.
What ways can you think of to market your business on a tight budget?
Kevin Foster is an online marketing professional who shares tips and strategies for driving traffic, increasing sales, and establishing business relationships.