By Blair Koch
You know the importance of marketing and how it is key for generating leads, developing brand awareness and more. But let’s face it, sometimes you just don’t have the budget to invest in the marketing activities you want and need. Here are some low cost and even no cost marketing activities you can focus on until you have the budget to add more initiatives.
NO COST MARKETING
This is one of the best forms of marketing; and it’s not because it doesn’t cost you a dime (although that helps). These marketing activities are more than likely going to generate some of your highest quality leads.
Referrals. Actively request introductions weekly; and make those requests intentional. Simply asking “Will you please introduce me to someone” won’t get you far; instead, ask you key connectors and clients for an introduction to a specific person or company. When meeting with a connector, be sure to have three specific names to whom you would like an introduction. Leverage your connectors LinkedIn networks to see who they know that you would like to meet.
You can even take it a step further by penning an email that your connectors making the introduction can send to those you are interested in meeting. While you would certainly allow them to edit the message, creating a communication like this makes it much easier for a connector to give you the referral and ensures the message you want to get across is being conveyed.
Additionally, you may want to consider the easy task of putting a referral program in place. At the end of each new project, give or send your client a coupon which offers a percentage off their next project or order for every paying customer/client they refer to you. Most people are happy to help, especially if you did a great job for them!
Word of Mouth Marketing is slightly different from referrals and it is incredibly underutilized. Talk about your business, your products/services, your website, things you are doing in the community (very important), etc. Discuss these aspects of your business at networking events, conferences and most importantly on social media. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. aren’t going anywhere so hop on board and start promoting your business. The price is right!
Testimonials and Endorsements are incredibly effective in building credibility and earning customer trust. The power of third-party testimonials is amazing, so simply ASK your customers/clients for testimonials. Testimonials can be written or, even better, on video. As my friend and colleague Melodie Reagan of Crazy Good Marketing says, “Video is the new paragraph.” Upload the endorsements to your website, your social media sites, your collateral – everywhere! Create a YouTube channel and post your videos there. Again, the price is right!
Social Media – As I mentioned in the Word of Mouth section, social media is a powerful tool that shouldn’t be ignored. Post valuable content without trying to sell anybody on anything. It can be either original or curated content, as long as it is something that matters to your business or industry. If you are new to social media and content curation, here is a link that will help you.
LOW COST MARKETING
Networking. Networking is a powerful, cost-effective marketing tool. Networking is simply the art of making and utilizing contacts; and when done correctly, can lead to substantial returns. The goal of networking is to create a pool of people and information that can directly increase the quality of your product or service, decrease customer churn and, most importantly, help your business gain a competitive edge. Networking, or getting together with other business people for a mutual purpose, can prove to be very beneficial to promoting your business.
You can network through formal groups or just by having a ready supply of business cards when you bump into someone at a conference, party or supermarket. The art of networking is multifaceted; by being in contact with other people, you may generate direct business or direct referrals. But networking is also a two-way street. When you meet someone, be sure to ask them about their business and tell them about yours. Start with the basics like name, company, affiliation, position and the nature of your business; then find out if and how you can benefit each other.
Remember, networking is NOT about selling. It is about building relationships. Be genuine. Be intentional. Give back! Ask others how you can serve them. When you start to give, you will get.
Newsletters provide short articles and other information that may be of interest to your target audience. These communications help you build credibility with potential customers, enhance your image with existing ones and serve as the basis for media coverage if it contains catchy, compelling information. If you don’t have a strong email list of customers and prospects, start to work on one, as they are invaluable. A monthly newsletter will help build your reputation. Again, this isn’t a sales piece; instead consider spotlighting customers, recognizing employees and including educational copy. Make it fun. Include videos and fun facts.
Online Marketing is certainly more expensive than the other marketing initiatives mentioned, but to exclude it would be a disservice. If your marketing budget is small, perhaps you can work towards this. Online marketing is about making sure your website is appealing, well maintained and current. Marketing technology is constantly changing and, as such, you need to refresh it regularly. Continue to add new content and give your website an overhaul every couple of years.
Another key component to online marketing is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). If you aren’t sure what SEO is, here is a quick video that will help. If you want people to find your business online, it is imperative that you leverage SEO. Hiring an entity to manage your SEO can be a financial commitment and you should expect to spend up to $2,000 monthly on this service. While that might sound steep to some, I would speculate that most businesses realize a positive return on investment.
These are just a few no-cost, low-cost marketing ideas. Work to build your marketing toolbox with a variety of activities that work together; and have at least six marketing activities going on in tandem to gain traction. First primarily focus on one or two and then build from there. Identify a percentage of revenues that will be reinvested into your marketing budget; then as your company grows, your marketing budget will grow with it.
Do you have your own tips and tricks for low cost, no cost marketing ideas? Do share!