For your business to grow, you must market and promote it. There are no ifs and buts. How will people know about your business if you stay silent or remain invisible? Especially in highly competitive industries – think logistics, retail, automotive, and technology – you have to be seen or heard to remain top-of-mind of your target market.
Marketing consultants will recommend that you should set aside 2% to 3% of your annual gross revenues for marketing and promotional activities.
For example, if your business generates $500,000 in gross sales per year, you should set aside $10,000 to $15,000 to fund marketing expenses for 12 months. That will come out to an average of $833 to $1,250 per month to cover marketing-related expenses.
Is that a lot of money to spend on marketing?
According to a study conducted by Gartner CMO, businesses in the United States allocated 11.2% of their annual gross revenue for marketing.
That means a small business in the U.S. which earned $500,000 in gross sales in 2018 will set aside $56,000 to cover all marketing-related expenses for 2019.
$56,000 per year distributed throughout the year rounds out to $4,666.67 per month for marketing activities.
If you’re thinking “Wow! That’s a lot of money!” we’re here to inform you that you don’t have to set aside 11.2% of your annual gross revenue to run an effective marketing campaign.
12 Ways To Market Your Business At Least Cost – Or No Cost At All!
In this section, we will discuss 12 ways you can market your business without breaking the bank and still get high returns on your marketing efforts.
Most of the strategies that we discuss are Internet-based. There are a few that will require you to roll up your sleeves or to dust off the loafers for a bit of leg work.
Content marketing is one of the fastest-growing strategies for promoting a business.
A study by the Content Marketing Institute (CMS) showed that businesses allocated 26% of the budget for content marketing. The same study revealed that 90% of B2B marketers have done content marketing in one form or another.
Blogging remains a cornerstone process in a content marketing campaign. 65% of B2B marketers surveyed by the CMI reported that blogging is a mainstay in their content marketing toolbox.
Blogging is a great way to communicate with your audience. It gives you a platform to share your knowledge and hopefully, help readers find solutions to their problems or concerns.
Your only cost in blogging is time -time to do research, write and review your content before posting it on the Internet.
However, if time is a rare commodity, consider outsourcing blogging to qualified writers. The CMI study indicated that 62% of businesses in the US outsource content writing.
Blogging is not an expensive strategy but it delivers great results in terms of acquiring followers, building your brand, and moving up in the search results.
2. Stay Active on Social Media
The social media community is so wide and vast that it presents wonderful opportunities for your marketing and advertising content to be seen by a targeted audience.
All you have to do is to stay active on social media and you can do this in a number of ways:
- Post Content Regularly – Keep in mind that not all social media networks function in the same manner. Choose 2 to 3 social media platforms, learn what you can about the network, and create a posting schedule for each one of them.
- Engage Your Followers – Social media activity is not just about posting blogs and curated content. Engage your followers by “speaking” to them directly. For example, if you are in the business of selling supplements, you can post a daily question such as “How many of you get a good night’s sleep with Melatonin?”
- Participate In Group Discussions – Networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and Facebook have interest groups. Join a group that is relevant to your industry.
Participate in group discussions and share your expertise. On some occasions, initiate the discussion yourself.
3. Go Live
Sharing “live” content is a great way to humanize your business. It lets people know – and assures them – that your business is real and authentic. Most importantly, it will encourage your followers to engage with you.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Virgin Group’s Sir Richard Branson, and Tesla’s Elon Musk are just a few of the big names who do live feed on their social media networks.
If you are in the real estate business, you can stream the launch of a new property development that is pre-selling lots or you can showcase the homes you are selling to your followers.
4. Grow Your Network Via LinkedIn
LinkedIn is popular among professionals and job-seekers. The content that you find on LinkedIn is much different than those in networks such as Facebook or Google+.
It is easy to grow your professional network on LinkedIn. Blogging, posting curated content, and engaging in group discussions will get you noticed by other people in your community.
If your posts and types of engagement are consistently relevant and compelling, people will reach out to you and request you to connect with them.
5. Get Your Followers Involved
Your customers and followers are part of the value chain. Social media not only gives you the platform to stay on top of their minds. It also gives you the medium to keep track of what your customers and followers want and need.
Why is this important? By knowing the concerns and interests of your customers, you will have a better idea of how to improve your products and service, what to add in your product mix or suite of services, and the types of content to publish.
Invite your customers to post reviews and suggestions on your Facebook Business Page. This shows you value their opinions and your commitment to improving the experience.
Don’t be afraid of getting negative feedback. It is not realistic to expect everyone to love your product.
You should welcome negative feedback because it can pinpoint a flaw in your product and at the same time give you the opportunity to interact directly with your customer.
6. Register Your Business at an Online Directory
Registering your business at an online directory can help you increase sales. This is a proven tactic for businesses that own a brick-and-mortar location.
Consumers are always searching the Internet for businesses that can help them address a particular need. If your business is registered in a popular online directory like GoogleMyBusiness, it will show up in the consumer’s search query.
Here are 3 key statistics that will encourage you to sign your business up with an online directory:
- 97% of consumers use online search to learn about a local business.
- 88% of the online searches result in the consumer visiting the local business within 24 hours.
- 18% of the visits result in a sale for the local business.
You can learn about the importance of registering your business at an online directory in our article “Why Should Retail Locations Be Listed In Search Engines?”
7. Start a Podcast
One of the best ways to pass time while stuck in traffic or on a long drive is to listen to podcasts. Statistics show that 22% of Americans listen to podcasts on a weekly basis.
Podcasts feature high-energy discussions because the format is more informal. Feedback is more extemporaneous; even with guidelines, there is less filter and therefore, more authenticity in the content.
How much will it cost to start a podcast? A good quality microphone will probably cost you $100. To improve audio quality, use free editing software such as Audacity or GarageBand.
8. Allow Your Followers to Go Behind-the-Scenes
Are you about to launch a new menu item in your restaurant? Take your followers behind-the-scenes and show them how the dish is created – just don’t show them the secret ingredient!
Allowing your followers’ backstage access to what goes on in the making of a product or in the day-to-day operation of your business fosters transparency which eventually, builds trust.
9. Sign Up Right-Fit Brand Ambassadors
When you sign up an expensive influencer, are you certain of brand loyalty? What will prevent the influencer from patronizing a competitor when you’re not looking?
You don’t need big-name endorsers to generate more interest in the product you are selling. A better option would be to sign up actual users of your product whose loyalty to your brand is irrefutable.
These people are called right-fit ambassadors. Not only did they choose your product over the competition; they are consistently promoting it on their social media pages.
Right-fit ambassadors believe in the value of your product. The power of their belief clearly resonates in how they speak or write about your product – they come across as authentic, sincere, and honest.
Right-fit ambassadors will not ask for the moon and the stars. The idea of being chosen as an ambassador for your product will be an honor.
Of course, you can reward them by giving free products, offering affiliate marketing arrangements, and special discounts for loyal patrons.
10. Collaborate With Other Businesses
Now, for some old-fashioned legwork!
Mark an area with a circumference that is 5 kilometers from your business. Put on a pair of comfortable loafers and sneakers. Take a walk around the marked area and note the down other businesses with products or services that are complementary to yours.
Prepare a formal proposal letter and personally deliver it to the shop owner on your next visit. With any luck, the shop owner may be willing to sit down and talk to you about your proposal.
By collaborating with other businesses, you open up your products to a different market and a new audience. Reciprocate by offering the products of the other business in your store.
11. Reach Out to Your Community
You may not have to go further than your own community to market your business.
If your neighborhood or district has a local association that caters to its residents, schedule a visit and talk to the person-in-charge of community affairs. Find out if you can promote your business through the association.
For example, if you own a gym or a Personal Training business, ask if you can offer free classes at the community center on weekends. In exchange, the local association may allow you to sell memberships on the premises.
12. Attend Networking Events
Networking events present wonderful opportunities to build your network and promote your business.
Find out if there are networking events in your area, how to sign up, and if it’s possible to be given a few minutes to present your business. Trade shows and expositions are also good venues to promote your products.
You should also consider joining associations or organizations that cater to your particular industry.
Because of the innovations in digital technology and improved accessibility of the Internet, marketing and promoting your business has become more convenient, measurable, and cost-effective.
Traditional forms of marketing such as print and TV advertising, radio commercial spots, and distribution of Point-of-Purchase materials are not extinct. Within a well-planned and organized marketing campaign, these traditional methods still have value.
However, the cost of making print, TV, and radio ads is very expensive. These types of ads are not evergreen; within a few months or days, consumers will find them obsolete.
Likewise, it’s difficult to target your key demographics with traditional marketing methods. How can you be sure that the majority of the people who saw, heard, and read your ad meets your Buyer’s Profile?
The answer is you can’t. There is no way to find out with 100% surety that your ad hit the target market.
If you spend more and get underwhelming results, your ROI on the marketing campaign will be very disappointing.
Your best option would be to go digital.
There is no cost to using the Internet. Likewise, there is no signup fee for opening a social media account. The costs for blogging, graphic design, and paid ads can be negotiated and customized to fit your budget.
You can monitor the progress and keep track of the results. Digital marketing has the tools to access information in real-time so you can fine-tune your campaign and make data-backed improvements.
Do you have other suggestions on how to lower the cost of marketing a business? Please share in the comments section. We would love to hear from you!
And if some of our ideas got you thinking – don’t hesitate to give us a call or an email. We can help you plan a low-cost marketing campaign for your business.