How do businesses start? It all starts with an idea. That light bulb moment is triggered by a moment of inspiration. You have an idea for a product or a service that addresses the needs of a specific market. You believe that you have the experience and expertise to turn your idea into a product with a price that people are willing to pay for.
The next question is going to be a bit more tricky:
“Do you have the experience and expertise to get your product or service in front of the people who may find value in it?”
How Much Should You Spend To Market Your Business?
Marketing is an important function of every business. It helps you build your brand, bring awareness to your products and services, and enhances your reputation as a valuable resource in the industry.
However, in times of economic difficulty, marketing is quite often the first business activity to be cut. This is especially true for small business owners where capital is tight and access to funding is very limited.
According to a survey conducted by HubSpot, securing an adequate budget is the third biggest challenge in marketing.
Small businesses are hesitant to allocate more resources to fund marketing campaigns. Their focus is to keep the business afloat. This means paying off their monthly costs of operations, suppliers, and creditors. Savings are set aside to tide the business over in the event the stream of income slows down to a trickle.
The question is, “How much should you spend to market your business?”
A study conducted by Sageworks revealed that on average, a small business spends an estimated 1% of its annual gross revenues for marketing and advertising activities.
Thus, if a small business on average generates annual gross revenue of $350,000, the owner or proprietor would set aside 1% or $3,500 to take care of its marketing activities for the year.
Is $3,500 a lot of money to spend on marketing?
Alternatively, is $3,500 enough to effectively support a marketing campaign?
Some of you may be thinking, “Well, that’s not much”. Meanwhile, others may be thinking, “Wow! That’s a lot! I can’t afford that!”
The truth is marketing does not have to break the bank. There are ways, methods, and techniques that you can use to ensure your marketing campaign does not lose its stride.
Building The Foundation Of A Cost Effective Marketing Campaign
Before we discuss the best ways to market your business without breaking the bank, it is important to build a solid foundation for your marketing campaign to stand on.
Without a solid foundation, your platform will crumble and fail. The pillars of the foundation are processes that you must undertake before actively working on your marketing strategy.
1. Conduct Research
Research gives your marketing activity direction. The purpose of research is to collect information that will give you valuable insights on your target market; the demographics, likes and dislikes, demand preferences, and tastes.
You need research to help you identify trends and patterns; uncover the latest developments in the industry, potential growth areas as well as risk factors. Research helps you determine what your campaign should be about; its purpose and objectives.
2. Create a Buyer’s Profile
A buyer’s profile is simply a summary of characteristics, attributes, and behavioral patterns that define who your audience is. It will give laser-like focus to your marketing strategies; you know who your market is, their needs, interests, and concerns.
What information should be included in a buyer’s profile?
- Educational Attainment
- Profession/ Occupation
- Income Bracket
- Civil Status
- Number of Dependents
- Preferred Social Media Network
3. Define Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
Some marketers refer to the UVP as the USP or Unique Selling Proposition. Although they essentially mean the same thing, we prefer to use “Value” instead of “Selling” because the word has greater significance and meaning when it comes to brand building.
As the term implies, UVP refers to your unique offering to your target market. It should answer the question, “Why should you choose me over the competition?” There must be something about your business that will influence the decision-making ability of your target market.
4. Focus on Building Your Brand
This is the third time we have mentioned brand building in this article – and it may not be the last! We cannot simply overemphasize the importance of building your brand. By brand building, we don’t mean just logos and catchy taglines.
Your brand is how your market perceives your business. It is a gradual transition from “what you are” to “who you are”. As such, it is a process that will take time and consistent effort.
All of the tools, techniques, strategies, and processes that you plan to incorporate in your marketing campaign must be aligned with your brand.
5. Identify Your Marketing Objective
“What do I hope to accomplish with our marketing campaign?” This is the underlying question that must be answered by your marketing objective.
A marketing campaign can have different objectives:
- Build a trustworthy reputation in the industry
- Acquire followers
- Promote business, products, and services
- Generate Leads
- Increase sales conversion rates
- Improve search engine rankings
- Drive more inbound traffic to the website
Ideally, you should only have one objective in order to remain focused. However, you can break down your singular objective into several smaller goals.
Primary Objective – Increase search rankings
- Acquire followers
- Generate Leads
- Build a trustworthy reputation in the industry
- Drive more inbound traffic to the website
6. Monitor, Track, and Evaluate Performance
Take advantage of the availability of online analytics such as Google Analytics and the built-in analytics in your social media pages. By monitoring, tracking, and evaluating performance, you will have a better idea if your campaign will deliver the desired outcome.
10 Best Ways To Market Your Business Without Breaking The Bank
1. Content Marketing
Content marketing has grown to become one of the most powerful and influential processes in the marketing toolbox. The reason is simple: People are regularly searching for great content.
- Content can be in the form of blogs, curated articles, videos, images, and other types that can effectively deliver your UVP. Focus on creating great content. This means content that is useful, informative, fresh, engaging, and relevant.
- Writing blogs and curating articles will only cost you time. Long-form blogs or those with a word count of 2,000 up work best in getting higher search rankings. Including research and rough drafts, it will take you approximately 3-4 hours to write a 2,000-word blog.
- Start out with two blogs per week. If your goal is to generate leads, your target should be to produce 16 blogs per month.
- Make sure your blogs are optimized with keywords. Use a free online keyword research tool such as Google Keyword Planner.
2. Social Media Marketing
Social media is an effective channel for distributing your online content. First, it caters to a gigantic population of more than 3 Billion users every day. Second, opening a social media business page will not cost you a cent.
However, not all social media networks function in the same way. After all, these are communities.
- Choose 2-3 platforms that best support your type of business. For example, if you are selling highly-visual merchandise such as smartphones or food, platforms like Instagram and Pinterest would work best for you.
- Set a posting schedule. The frequency of posting is an important component in social media marketing. Once you have built up a good number of followers, make sure you are always top-of-mind. Post at least once a day. Use Buffer which is a free online social media scheduling tool.
3. Email Marketing
According to a study conducted by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and Demand Metric, email marketing generates the highest ROI of all online marketing channels.
Compared to social media marketing, direct mail, and paid search which have an ROI of 28%, 27%, and 25% respectively, the ROI for email marketing has been measured at 122%.
- Build a good-sized list of subscribers. To make this happen, come up with a good Call-to-Action (CTA) such as a free e-book or consultation.
- Segment your mailing list. Categorize your subscribers based on need, demographics, or online behavior patterns.
- Focus on high-value content. Newsletters are short-form content; usually, no more than 300 words. Since you have segmented your list, focus on delivering content that directly addresses their specific need.
4. Use Online Search Engine Directories
A study by Google showed that 80% of Americans prefer to use search engine directories to find local businesses. More than that, the same Google study showed that 50% of the respondents visited the local business on the day itself.
What’s in it for the local business? 18% of local businesses who were found on an online search engine directory were able to close the sale! Registering your business in an online search engine directory is a free and easy way to get discovered.
You can read more about online search engine directories and how they can benefit your business in our articles, “Why Should Retail Locations Be Listed In Search Engines?” and “How Can Retail Locations Benefit From A Strong Local Presence”.
5. Consider Paid Advertising
Paid advertising methods like PPC or Pay-Per-Click advertising can give your search rankings an immediate boost because whoever clicks your ad will find themselves on your landing page. With PPC, you only pay whenever someone clicks on your ad.
Find out more about the benefits of paid advertising in our article, “SEO Vs. PPC: Which One Is Better For Your Business?”
6. Build Partnerships
The late great sales guru, Joe Girard, popularly advocated his protagonist approach when negotiating deals.
Girard believed that while parties in a negotiation have different intents, they have a common goal: to land the best arrangement. Therefore, instead of opposing one another, why not help each other?
You can apply the same ideology in marketing your business.
For example, in a food business, suppliers sell you their raw materials to produce your menu items. They want you to succeed so that you will buy more supplies from them. Ask them if they are willing to sponsor a promotional activity.
For example, ask your beverage supplier to provide you with a few cases for free to support the promo. In exchange, allow the supplier to post advertising materials in your restaurant.
7. Reach Out to Your Community
For local businesses, your immediate captive market is the community where you are located. Reach out to them. Let them know how your business can address their needs.
Here are a few examples:
- If you own a gym business, schedule group workouts for families and friends at the local community center. Most people are intimidated by the thought of walking inside a gym. Bring the gym to them and start building relationships within the community.
- Look for other local businesses in the area that offer products and services which are complementary to your own. Propose a cross-marketing arrangement. For example, a cake shop owner can set up a cross-marketing arrangement with a flower shop owner.
8. Attend Business Forums and Trade Shows
Business forums and trade shows are effective venues for marketing and promoting your company. Some organizers will charge you a fee in order to participate in the event.
However, these events attract potential end-users of your products and services. The fee could be worth it considering that you are given the opportunity to position your business directly in front of prospective clients or customers.
9. Attend Networking Events
Most networking events are by invitation only. You may have to become a member of an organization to be invited. Another avenue you can take is to join focus groups in your local community and even those within your social media circles.
Networking is a great way to expand your contacts list. Don’t approach the event with the 4C mindset: “Calling Card Collection Contest”. Instead, use the 4B approach: “Build the Best connections that will Benefit your Business”.
You can learn more about networking in our article, “How Can Networking Help My Business Grow”.
We saved the best for last.
Number 10 – Outsource Your Marketing
Why is this your best option for marketing your business?
First, by outsourcing your marketing, you free up time so you can dedicate your precious hours to managing the core functions of your business. As we mentioned earlier – creating content, posting on social media, and measuring results – all of these activities take time.
Second, you leave the implementation in the hands of experienced and well-trained experts. They will do everything – research, content optimization, website management, social media calendar, and content writing – for you. You can be assured of professional quality work every time!
Third, you save more money! If you set up an in-house marketing team, you will have to pay your personnel salaries, benefits and allocate expenses for rent, supplies, utilities, and additional bandwidth.
When you outsource, the service provider takes care of everything. You only have to pay for the services rendered. In many cases, the charges are negotiable. The best outsourcing service providers understand your needs and will render work with respect to your budget.
It is important to outsource marketing only to qualified third-party service providers like us. We know what we are talking about. In fact, we wrote about budget-friendly marketing strategies in our article “How To Set Up A Low Budget But Highly Effective Digital Marketing Campaign”.
If you want to learn more about how we can help you market your business without breaking your bank account, please feel free to give us a call. We will give you a free consultation for up to 30 minutes!