For a small business, marketing is often one of your biggest financial investments.
According to the SBA, small businesses with revenues less than $5 million should allocate 7-8 percent of their revenues to marketing (assuming you have margins of 10%-12%).
Now, that’s not a hard and fast rule and that estimate was made 10 years ago, so you can expect that estimate to have evolved as the business landscape has in recent years.
The bottom line is how much you should be investing in a marketing budget for your business needs to be carefully considered.
After all, once your product or service is up and rolling, it’s marketing that takes spending to build awareness, SERP ranking, and growing reputation.
And as a small business, you need to do more with less. Your budget may be limited, but your need for growth is great.
Productive & Cost Effective Marketing Tips For Small Businesses
How do you make a small marketing budget go big? By getting creative.
Let’s dive into effective, innovative, and low-cost marketing tips for small businesses.
1. Build Your Brand Personality in Content
The best way for any small business to make a big splash today is with content.
Combining hardcore inbound marketing with efficient outbound marketing is the way to reach your potential audience with as much force and magnetism as possible.
Creating content is also something you can do fantastically when your team has more time than cash.
Best of all, powerful content that speaks in the special voice of your brand.
Create a Ton of Content
So get creating and get writing!
Build interesting series of content. Write guides. Write thought leadership about your industry. Write cool ideas and lifestyle tips for the kind of people who make up your audience.
Make videos to compliment your most compelling written pieces to broaden their reach and consumption.
Build up your social media post campaigns – the kind you can fire automatically for months keeping it interesting.
Build up your web pages. Plan an entire year or more ahead in blog ideas and complete webs of blogged information.
Content is king and small businesses can create powerful content using just the expertise in your shop.
Create an Automatic Publishing Schedule
What do you do with all that content? Schedule it!
Get your content marketing engine running while you focus on the next stage of your marketing strategy.
An automatic scheduler can fire blog posts, keep your website current, and publish social media posts to create an ongoing campaign.
2. Craft Incredible Visuals
If you have artists, photographers, or just great chart-makers on the team, you can boost your brand with great graphics.
Visuals are a powerful type of asset for both inbound and outbound marketing. Brand assets power up your outbound and specialize your on-site content.
Infographics worth referencing can win you backlinks without even trying.
Original art and compelling new photographs will ensure your content doesn’t look like any other brand.
Take compelling, beautiful, creative, or extremely practical photographs. Make your own original stock photos or find the photography that will catch the breath of your readers each time they open a page.
Infographics win backlinks and can make your content creation legendary.
If you can explain something that is hard to explain or interesting to know, other people will share it and link back to your original content. Not to mention, it positions you in a place of authority and interest.
Memorable Brand Graphics
Make your brand stand out with stunning visual designs.
Create graphics that make your website feel like a unique place.
Make memorable assets that your customers will love to associate with your products, services, and community.
Original Digital Art
Original art has a similar influence to infographics but in different circles. Graphic artists on your team can create assets that other artists and art fans will want to collect, link to, and share.
3. Email Marketing
As a small business owner, deciding where to invest your marketing dollars isn’t a decision you can afford to take lightly.
This is why email marketing is such an important weapon to have in your marketing arsenal.
Of all forms of marketing, email marketing has the highest ROI (return on investment) averaging about $42 in return for every $1 spent. When compared to PPC marketing for example, which only has an ROI of $2 for every dollar spent, email gives you your best bang for the buck by far.
Once you’ve invested in creating your branding, your visuals, and your content, email marketing is a great way to get it in front of your target audience.
Subscriber List Building
However, in order to do this you need to build your subscriber list as fast as possible.
For the majority of small businesses, websites are where email list building begins: From opt-in forms and dynamic pop-ups or overlays to dedicated lead capturing landing pages.
To that end, even small, but strategic adjustments to your website and content can pay big dividends.
Providing free but valuable content, such as white papers or e-books, is the most obvious and effective way to entice potential customers to subscribe to your emails.
4. Pay Per Click Marketing
Ready to start your marketing spend the smart way? PPC or Pay Per Click marketing is the most efficient way to go outbound – and sponsored inbound- in your marketing strategy.
PPC means you pay for clicks, not impressions. You only lose ad spend when you get a potential lead who follows the ad link to your website.
Google AdWords will get you sponsored and boosted positions in SERP results for your chosen keywords. The key is to find great general and specific keywords for your business that do not have a lot of competition with other brands – especially brands in your region.
Google often gives away free AdWords spend to new and small businesses.
Facebook is another popular PPC platform with extremely customizable targeting controls. Facebook is great for reaching out to individuals and groups based on interests and Facebook usage patterns as well as more general targeting metrics like geographic region.
5. Social Media Marketing
This is one of the most effective marketing tips for small businesses.
Social media marketing is all about building an online network and community. Your regular scheduled posts can be interesting and engaging mixed with live comments and topical posts to actively engage with your audience.
Outreach and Networking
Build a network by reaching out to other brands and users. Be nice and find interesting things to say. Start sharing industry expertise in the voice of the brand, or deploy your team to become a friendly swarm of brand representation. Get active. Support other people’s projects. Become part of a network for your niche, local community, or both.
Once you have some activity on your page, help them become a cohesive group with discussions, events, and social media activity. Keep the posts lively and respond when people comment on your brand or products.
6. Local Sensation Marketing
Get out there and let your local community see your team. Sometimes, the best way to build awareness is in the physical world where people are actually living and shopping.
Signs and Flyers
Create a visual canvas leading to your brand or local store. Sidewalk signs help to attract foot traffic and a flyer in the right place could pique a pedestrian’s interest during their day running errands.
Community Event Involvement
Get involved in local events in your local community.
If there’s a festival or a charity drive, become a vendor or supporter.
Host a local school choir’s annual carol singing, sponsor a local team or become part of the business sector’s trick or treating event.
Let locals see your brand involved and invested in the community. You’ll build awareness and a sense of shared connectedness at the same time.
7. Networking Groups and Events
Finally, one of the most effective tried-and-true methods of building and marketing your small business is in-person networking and referrals.
Why? People do business with people they like and trust.
By putting a friendly face and a warm handshake to your business and developing relationships with other like-minded professionals, you stand a better chance of getting a higher quality clientele.
Join a business networking and referral groups like BNI, or a local chamber of commerce.
The weekly meetings of BNI with the singular focus of giving and receiving quality referrals, to and from your chapter’s members, effectively extends your business’ sales team.
Attend local chamber of commerce and small business networking events to broaden your reach amongst your local business community.
The low cost of entry to any of these groups or events makes this one of the smartest and cost-effective ways to market and grow your company.
How can a small business dive into marketing without a big marketing budget?
Get creative, create & disseminate valuable content, and network.
Make a big splash with a little spending by being memorable, engaged, and with a fountain of fresh content every week.
If you’re ready to build your next great marketing campaign and are prepared to implement these and other effective marketing tips for small businesses, contact us today.