4 Tips to Small Business Marketing on a Shoestring

February 15, 2010

marketing on a shoestring budget for small business

So you are a small business. If I ask you what your marketing budget is – does your answer sound like: “What marketing budget?” If that’s the case (or if you said, “pretty small”…) you need a dose of guerrilla marketing – or marking tips for a shoestring budget.

Following are some tips that will help you get new customers and clients – and get them to take action – without breaking the bank.

1. Word of Mouth Marketing

Once your business is up and running, tell everyone you know – friends, family, business colleagues and acquaintances, essentially, anyone who will listen. Describe your business to them – what it does or offers. You can even offer them an incentive – like a discount on your products or service or even a cash commission. Nothing wins over allies like cold, hard cash…

2. A little Public Relations

A lot of folks believe that Marketing and PR are one in the same. Not quite…

There are a few differences: Marketing is paid-for exposure under a company’s direct control, while public relations was free exposure.

Marketing has at its core a desire to reach consumers and make them think, believe or do what you want. Public relations is more focussed on influencing reputation, whether corporate or personal.

There are several ways that a small business can generate good Public Relations – using press releases, media events, even getting yourself exposure in local media. By positioning yourself (and your business) as experts in your arena – you suddenly create a lot of value for yourself to the local media.

3. Social Media

If you know anything about me, you know that I believe no business (large or small) should be without a social media marketing strategy. I suggest that you focus your attention on this power trio: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. They are a great way to create new relationships and deepen existing ones. They allow you to highlight new products and company news. They also provide a great platform for customer feedback. And remember I mentioned “Word of Mouth’ efforts above? These sights give your friends, connections and followers the opportunity to tell their friends about you.

4. Email Auto Responders and Newsletters

No business website should be without an email capture – right there on the home page (and every page, if you ask me). Put you signup form right in front of your site’s visitors. Don’t make them click for the privilege! Yes there was sarcasm… Statistics show that every time you make a visitor click a link, 50% don’t do it. And if you have other links on your page, you reduce the odds further.

Good, they’ve signed up, now what?

A regular Newsletter is a great marketing tool – it let’s you reconnect with existing contacts on a regular basis. This accomplishes two things: 1) It acts a a gentle reminder about your business and service, and 2) You can offer specials that get them returning to your site and/or physical location. Pretty cool, huh?

My suggestion for an email service provider is MailChimp. They are great, they automatically clean your list and provide a nice easy way to create beautiful newsletters.

Best of all, until you grow over 500 subscribers, their service is free!

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