If you were to ask most entrepreneurs what was the biggest challenge they face in business, the number one answer, unfortunately, would be money (or lack thereof).
Cash flow problems is often a road block to success when trying to start or grow a business. After all, you need money to market your business and get the word out about your products and/or services, right?
Well, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. With a little creativity and out of the box thinking, you can still market your business without a huge marketing budget.
Here are 5 ways to market your business on a shoestring budget:
Video is a great tool for marketing any type of business. Whether you create how-to videos, descriptions of your products/services, testimonials, etc., it is a great way to get exposure. The great thing about video is that it does not have to be a huge, elaborate production to be effective. In fact, quick, simple, and to-the-point videos shot on an inexpensive flip video camera, cell phone, or web cam can do the trick. In most cases, it’s not all about the quality, but more about the message you are getting out there. Now, I’m not saying just throw up any old blurry, crummy video, but don’t spend so much time worrying about perfection that you hesitate to get started. Remember, people do business with those they know, like, and trust. Incorporating video marketing is a great way to gain that trust. Your customers/clients want to know that they are working with a REAL person, so letting them hear your voice and see your face creates a sense of a personal connection, making them more willing to do business with you.
Staying in front of your target market is imperative. The best way to do this: email marketing. You can use email services such as Constant Contact, Mailchimp, etc. to create an opt-in box on your website to capture the email addresses of potential clients (this works best when you share a “free juicy offer” such as a free report, ebook, etc). Email your list on a regular basis to make sure that your business is at the top of mind when it’s time to seek out someone who offers your specific product/service. The key here is to not be “spammy” by bombarding them with constant sales pitches. Instead, offer value with your emails. For example, If you own a clothing boutique, write an article about the most current clothing trends and include a discount code to purchase similar clothing from your shop. This is also a good opportunity to keep potential clients in the know about what’s new with your business, events that you’ll be participating in, special promotions, etc. Use catchy subject lines to make your subscribers want to open your email, and be sure to pack in interesting info to make sure you keep their attention once they do!
While online marketing should definitely be a part of your marketing plan, nothing beats good ol’ face-to-face networking. In a world where practically everyone is using social media, it’s still important to get from behind the comfort of your computer, get out there and shake some hands and network. Networking is an acquired skill, so take time to learn some effective strategies. It’s not about attending as many events as possible and shoving a business card in the hands of anyone who will take it. Your goal should be to make quality connections. Also, focus on what you have to offer others versus going in with a “what can you do for me” mindset. You will find that more people will be willing to work with you and/or speak your praises when you are willing to help them in some way as well. As a rule of thumb, you should aim to speak to at least 30 people per week about your business. Research events in your area using a site such as meetup.com, and plan to attend at least 1-2 events per week.
Hosting Your Own Events
Another great way to spread the word about your business is to host events. Depending on the type of business you are in, you can come up with some creative event ideas to build a buzz about your business, score great press, and meet new and potential customers face-to-face. It is a great way to build personal relationships (remember the know, like, and trust factor). If you are in the beauty industry, why not host a pampering event to get a group of potential clients in one place where they’ll be exposed to your product/service? If you’re a wedding designer, you can host an open house to show samples of your design style and invite engaged couples to see what you have to offer. Really, the possibilities are endless. Get creative and come up with a fun quarterly or twice a year event to steadily gain new clientele.
In my opinion, blogging is one of the most efficient, and inexpensive ways to market your business. Just like with email marketing, it is your opportunity to stay in front of your target market, offer solutions to their problems, as well as keep them informed on the goings-on of your business. As with all forms of marketing, consistency is key. Whether you post daily or weekly, you should come up with a schedule that you can keep up with so that your clients will look forward to what you have to share. You can use a free blog site such as Blogger, but if you want to step your game up, WordPress is where it’s at! You are able to do so much more functionally, not to mention it’s more visually appealing and is better for SEO purposes (I’ll go more in depth on that in another post).
Do you have any other creative ideas for marketing a business on a shoestring budget? Please share in the comments below.
To Your Prosperity and Success,
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