Updated September 5, 2018 . AmFam Team
You may be a small business with a modest marketing budget, but you can still make a big impact and gain new customers with the marketing dollars you have — whether you run a mom-and-pop shop or an online business.
We talked to Liz Papagni, CEO, branding and marketing strategist with Marketing Initiative Worx (Opens in a new tab), and Christopher Ryan, a SCORE instructor (Opens in a new tab) and founder and CEO of Fusion Marketing Partners (Opens in a new tab). Here are their top tips to help your business maximize its reach while working with a small budget.
Create a relevant offer. Use your website, blog, email, newsletter or social media profiles to offer something that relates to your business and appeals to your target customers. “Always provide people with a reason to act,” Papagni says. “Entice them to respond or engage.” If you run a natural beauty company for instance, your offer might be a free e-book with information on common beauty product ingredients to people who sign up for your email list. Or if you own a restaurant, you might offer free dessert to new customers with the purchase of other items.
Publish valuable content.Ryan says there are two main types of marketing: 1) Push marketing which is paid advertising or distribution, and 2) Pull marketing, which is free content, press releases and social media updates. Pull marketing is a low-cost way of getting the message out, but the key to successful pull marketing is publishing quality, relevant content in the places your prospective customers will actually see it.
“Today, a lot of companies are all over social media, but what they’re doing is a fragmented approach,” Papagni says. “Social media is only powerful when you’re on those particular channels where your target or your prospect is participating.” For B2B companies, that might mean LinkedIn, but B2C customers are more likely to spend time on Facebook, Ryan says.
Build your email list. Email is another low-cost way to market, so build your email list with current and prospective customers as soon as you open for business. A free e-book can entice people to sign up, but to stay in their inboxes you need to continue offering value.
“You’re not just asking people for business, you’re also giving them content that’s relevant to them,” Ryan says. An auto repair company might provide tips on maintaining your automobile along with an offer. “That’s kind of a one-two punch: one is information of value and then the second is an offer that gets them in the door,” he says.
Run online contests, giveaways or sweepstakes. One benefit of contests or similar promotions is that it allows you to engage with customers and potentially build your database. “People always want to win something, so it builds engagement,” Papagni says. The prize should tie in with your business to ensure that you’re attracting relevant leads.
Partner with a larger organization. Teaming up with a bigger company allows you to market to their customers. “You benefit because they already have the market recognition and a customer base that you don’t have,” Ryan says. For example, a small home remodeling company could partner with a larger hardware shop to offer in-store training clinics on a certain area of remodeling. You’d benefit from the larger company’s name recognition, while their customers would benefit from your expertise – and those with a more complex project might hire you to do the job.
Effective marketing doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does need to keep customers’ interests and needs at the forefront. “It’s about knowing who you are, why you’re different, telling that story correctly,” Papagni says, “and really understanding your target audience.”