If you’ve been following this blog, you already know that you have to market your small business. There are many ways to do it, but the most effective marketing channels are on the internet in today’s digital-first ecosystem.
When you’re a small business or startup, your budget is tight. And, as we discussed previously, most new businesses close because of cash flow problems. So, how do you balance the need to market your small business and maintain a healthy cash flow? First, you find ways to do it cheaply. Here are ten ways to promote your small business on a small budget.
1. Set Your Marketing Goals and Identify Your Target Audience
Whether your marketing budget is flush with cash or you’re operating on a shoestring, you need to establish marketing goals and identify your target audience.
Marketing goals are not the same as your marketing strategy. Instead, your marketing strategy comes from first establishing your goals.
Your marketing goals serve as a blueprint for your team or yourself. They provide direction and purpose and serve as measurable markers of success. Your marketing goals might include:
- Drive more traffic to your website
- Increase conversions
- Brand recognition
- Expand into new markets
- Provide value to your customers
- Establish yourself as a thought leader
- Grow your presence on social media
Identify your target audience
Neil Patel says that your target audience is the group of consumers who you target with your marketing efforts.
If you spend your marketing budget targeting people who will not buy your product or services, you’re wasting money. They might visit your website, and if your only goal is to improve your search results, you might not care. But, most small businesses want to grow. You want people to make an appointment, buy your books, sign up for a webinar or buy your products.
Target audience definitions include:
- Purchasing power
- Consumption habits
But as we discussed in a previous article on psychographic data, you shouldn’t limit yourself to these parameters. Include definitions such as,
- Personality traits.
Combining the two, your target audience might look like this:
- men, aged 40-60 years old
- living in New York
- with a BA or higher
- a monthly income of $6,000 – $10,000
- concerned about industrial farming and the impact on the environment
- loves to spend time off outdoors hiking or backpacking.
Now that you’ve identified your marketing goals and your target audience, it’s time to move on to finding ways to market your small business on a small budget.
2. Be Active on Social Media
If you have a shoestring budget and limited staff, you can’t afford to market your small business on every digital channel. Instead, you’ll need to select those social platforms where your target audience hangs out. Then, use those channels to share exciting content that matches your company’s mission and purpose.
However, to effectively market your small business, you need to do more than just post content. Consistent posting is essential, but you need to engage with other brands’ posts to expand your brand recognition and develop authority and authenticity. So do more than click on a “like” or “love.” Make thoughtful, non-promotional comments on the posts you follow. Readers will be curious about you, visit your profile, and from there come to your website.
Build an ambassador program
Word of mouth marketing is still the best way to advertise your business. The more brand ambassadors you recruit, the more you will expand your reach, and it won’t cost you anything. Reward your followers who share your social media posts. Perhaps offer discounts or special days that your ambassadors can access your products or services.
Time is Money
Your time is precious, especially when running a small business solo or with a small staff. Fortunately, you can market your small business on social media without negatively impacting your daily schedule. How? Utilize social media scheduling apps. For instance, once you have a Facebook business page, you have access to Facebook Business Manager. From there, you can schedule an entire month of social media posts and stories on both Facebook and Instagram. You can also schedule posts on Twitter. Look for the little clock icon at the bottom. Alternatively, you can use scheduling apps like Later, many of which offer free and low-cost subscription levels.
3. Join Social Media Groups
Facebook and LinkedIn, for example, host many groups that bring together people interested in the same topic or industry. People join groups to learn, share and interact. Of course, your purpose in the group is to learn and get updates related to your industry. But, it’s a great way to increase awareness of your brand. While groups are not the place for self-promotion, if members see you actively engaging with helpful and thoughtful comments and posts, they’ll seek you out. As a result, you’ll have access to a group of people interested in your services or the products you sell.
LinkedIn communications are more professional and formal, yet the platform offers you unlimited and free opportunities to increase brand awareness and trust in your small business. You should open a business page and individual profile. LinkedIn groups are limited to personal accounts; nevertheless, you’ll expose your business to perhaps thousands of potential consumers by actively participating. You’ll succeed in establishing yourself as an authority in your niche.
4. Use Storytelling to Market Your Small Business
Consumers want to know who is behind the brand. Through text, video, and graphics, you can open the door to let your target audience know
- who you are
- why you opened your small business
- and your vision, mission, and purpose.
Use live video to humanize your brand and convert more organic users into customers. We’ll talk more about storytelling in a future blog article.
5. Email Still Works
Email is not dead, and it continues to be one of the most cost-effective tools for marketing your small business. Sending emails is proactive, a way to reach out to your consumer audience rather than waiting for them to take the initiative to see what’s new with your brand. In addition, many email platforms offer free subscription plans that are perfect for when you have a small budget. For example, Mailchimp provides a free subscription that lets you send out 12,000 emails every month to up to 2,000 subscribers.
6. Cheaply Market Your Small Business With a Blog
Adding a blog page to your website costs nothing and can serve as a powerful tool for driving more traffic to your website. Furthermore, suppose you consistently write engaging and useful blog articles. In that case, your visitors will spend more time on your website, improving your dwell time statistics. Higher dwell time rates improve your SERP ranking. Furthermore, your readers will share (be sure to include share buttons), thereby expanding your branding reach, all for free.
Blog articles are an excellent way to establish yourself as a thought leader, develop authenticity and trust in your brand.
7. Take Advantage of Free Google Tools
Google offers several free tools that can help you market your small business for no money.
Google My Business
The Google My Business platform is easily accessible from your Google Workspace. It doesn’t cost anything to list your business. You can share your website blog posts, updates about your products or services, special sales, holiday hours, and other news about your small business. If you have an in-person location, list your hours, days of operation, holiday closings, etc.
Ask your customers to visit your Google My Business listing and leave reviews. Your potential consumers check out service and product reviews before deciding whether to make an appointment or buy a product. Send a thank-you note to customers after they post a review and ask them to share your Google page with their network.
Google My Business is an easy way to market your small business when your budget is tight.
Learn how to dive deeply into Google Analytics to learn how visitors are engaging with your website. You’ll find valuable information including,
- which social media channels are driving traffic to your website
- audience demographics
- keyword performance
- what percentage of your consumer audience is accessing your content via mobile devices and
- whether you’re meeting your conversion targets.
Use Google Trends to increase your social media engagement by identifying the keywords and trending topics that will draw attention to your business. Google Trends is also a valuable resource to help you develop a content marketing calendar and improve your blog performance.
8. Use the Boost Feature to Market Your Small Business
Identify your most successful posts on Facebook or Instagram, and boost them. You can set as small a budget as you need. Then, with careful targeting, according to the goals you already established and your target audience, you can increase brand awareness or website traffic for less than $100.
9. Answer Questions on Quora
Quora is described as a cross between a social network and a research platform. More than 300 million active users are on Quora, and its base is growing. It doesn’t cost you anything to sign up for a Quora profile and start answering questions. You’ll want to find questions directly related to your industry that have the most followers. You can place a link to your website on your profile. If readers like your answers, you’ll move up the rankings for that question. Quora is an incredible platform for developing thought leadership and increasing brand awareness. Furthermore, the people who are asking questions or following the answers are already interested in your niche. So you’ll be reaching your target audience.
10. Optimize for Mobile
You already have an excellent website, but you’ll lose a significant portion of your potential customer base if it doesn’t open easily on mobile devices. In today’s omnichannel world, internet users are not so patient. If it takes too long for your pages to open or images to upload, they’ll move on to another brand.
It doesn’t cost any money to optimize your website for mobile. Numerous plugins are available for all the primary website hosting platforms that you can easily install and create an enjoyable experience for your mobile customers.
You need to be a bit more strategic and creative to market your small business on a small budget, but it’s not impossible.
- Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and to experiment with novel marketing tactics.
- You’ll save a lot of money by first defining your marketing goals and target audience.
- Make use of free video editing and content creation platforms, such as Canva. If your budget allows, buy an entry-level subscription. You’ll save money in time and produce professional-quality digital content.
- Be proactive.
- Build a strong team of brand ambassadors.
- Constantly measure your results and be ready to recalibrate when necessary.