Keeping your business on a budget is a difficult task. As inflation hits just about every corner of the business market and hiring shortages causing business owners to get creative and offer monetary incentives to bring on new people, cuts have to start being made. One of the first places business owners may start to slash their expenses is in marketing.
Before making drastic cuts to your business’ marketing, think about ways you can rework your budgeted items for less. There are many low-cost and even free marketing options available to business owners - you just have to get creative!
Use Social Media
Yup, the dreaded social media. No one likes to do it, yet it seems to be where just about everyone is digitally “hanging out.” Yes, it takes time, but it also is free. Posting meaningful content regularly will increase your business's chances of being seen more often by more people. Get your loyal customers (or friends and family) to comment on your posts and reply to those comments. If a post gets 14 comments it will “go viral” meaning it will be seen by more people.
Take some time at the beginning or end of every week and craft 3-4 posts for social media and schedule them out through the week. Ask your employees what they would like to see and use their suggestions (if they are appropriate). Utilize hashtags. If your business doesn’t have any - create some. Post videos on YouTube.
The expense of social media will be the time you put into it. This isn’t to say your time isn’t valuable, but social media sites are free - so use your business’ pages to their fullest potential.
Team Up with Other Businesses
Work together and everyone can succeed! Team up with businesses related to your industry and do some cross-promotion. Offer to push their product or service at your business if they offer to do the same for you. Have them put your logo and a link to your website on their page and you do the same.
This is especially beneficial if you work with other local businesses. The more people see the local community working together, the more they want to support it. Businesses are usually happy to collaborate if the benefit is mutual!
Sponsor/Host an Event
This may not sound like a very inexpensive marketing idea, but don’t scroll past too quickly. Sponsoring an event usually means there are donation levels available, so stick within your business’ means. Know that any publicity at an event is good publicity.
Hosting an event does not mean coordinating a 5K, golf outing or car show (although you can absolutely do that). Businesses can host an online event - like a giveaway or contest on Facebook. Events like these get shared many times and will give your business many views. Increase your website traffic by sending the Facebook contest to your website to look for a hidden picture or icon. You can be as creative as you like!
Hosting an event does not mean you have to give anything away either. You can also host an informative webinar. If you create something or provide a service you can host an in-person, or online (or both) class showcasing your business. This can be as simple as hosting a class about car maintenance basics, cookie or cupcake decorating or flower arrangements.
If your business does not lend itself to a class or webinar a good old-fashioned business card drawing is always a hit.
Talk your Business Up
Free marketing will require a bit more time on your end doing what paid marketing may have done before. One great way to get the word out about your business is through non-profits service clubs and other community organizations. Clubs like Rotary International, Kiwanis, Lions, and the Exchange Club hold monthly, weekly or bi-weekly meetings. They often host community members to talk about their businesses. This a great free way to get the word out about what you do and what you have been doing for the community. You can also talk to your local library to see if they have any upcoming events where you could offer your expertise.
Utilize your community's local business organizations and attend local networking events. Participate in vendor job fairs (if applicable). Apply for local business awards. If your community has a Best of the Best competition, use it to promote your business.
Content, Content, Content
Oh, are you sick of hearing about writing content yet? Hey, it’s last on the list - but it doesn’t mean it’s any less important.
Get your creative juices flowing and write some content. If you are not a writer, recruit an employee or family member. There is at least one person on your staff or that you are related to that will write you some great content for little or no pay (maybe pizza?)
Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. The best content is information that is easy to understand and everyone can relate to (like what you are reading here). Be genuine, be informative, be a little funny. Share what you know and the readers will follow.
Start a blog. This will drive people to your website. Start email marketing - use your blog as part of it. This will not only get people to your website, it will also get them to read your amazing content.
If you already have content, rework it. Combine blogs or update them. Don’t throw away any content ever - it’s like rubber bands or paper clips, you never know when you are going to need it - but you can reuse it and upgrade it.
When looking at where to cut back on your business’ expenses, don’t cut out marketing completely. While you might not always see the return on investment you hope for, getting your business’ name out there any way possible is crucial to keeping your business going.
Marketing does not have to be a chore. You love your business. Show your community why through some creative and inexpensive marketing!
HMG / HWD
"I want to tell your story!"