Over the last nine years I have been consulting I have spoken – and written – often about low cost marketing ideas.
The advent of social media tools such as Facebook, twitter and Instagram has certainly made a marketing manager’s job easier in many ways, but let’s not forget the more traditional tools available.
These are my top low cost marketing ideas
1. Have a marketing plan
I blogged recently on how to write a simple marketing plan – it doesn’t need to be sophisticated but should at least include: marketing/business objectives, what your product/service is, target market, key messages, communication tactics appropriate for your target market, budget, action plan, evaluation mechanisms
Make sure your marketing is regular and consistent – this way you won’t be caught out during slower times.
Evaluate what you do so you can see what works and what doesn’t. If your marketing is not working then look at how you can change and improve it.
Know WHO your target market is as well as where they go to get information, so you can more precisely deliver the messages to the consumer – no point advertising in a golfing magazine if you are selling cricket bats – for example. This can save you a lot of money as you are not spending it on marketing to the wrong people.
3. Use your networks and contacts
The more people who know what you do, the more likely they are to refer business to you – so get out there and talk to people, and ask your networks to talk about you (in a good way of course!).
If the thought of networking completely freaks you out, read my tips.
4. Business cards
Many people think that a business card is passé, but I still love mine. Include your name, contact details, website, and social media – I have twitter and Instagram on mine, but you may also want to consider Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, depending on the nature of your business.
Include a brief description of what your business does and use both sides of your card.
Keep them on you so you have them when asked – I keep a little stash in all my handbags, in my wallet, in The Accountant’s wallet and in the car.
5. It’s cheaper to market to your existing customers than to get new ones
Think about the work you are currently doing for your customers – now think about what else you can do for them. Can you work with them on a more permanent basis? Are there other people in their business you can work with? Can you develop a new product or service that will suit them?
Are your current clients aware of all the services/products you provide? If not, then tell them!
Develop a customer referral program – it can be as simple as sending a thank you gift to everyone who refers you a new client.
6. Get a website
It amazes me how many businesses don’t have a website. And no, Facebook is not an acceptable substitute. Are you hearing me restaurants?? There is really no excuse, particularly with so much free software such as WordPress or Blogger available to start a simple site. Even a one page site with a brief statement about what your business is and how people can contact you is better than nothing.
Promote your website on everything include email signatures, brochures, gimmicky give-aways, business cards, social media and anything else you can think of.
7. Start a blog
Now you have your website, start a blog and write great content. It’s an excellent way of positioning yourself as an expert in your field. Read my blogging for business post for some tips.
8. Email marketing
Sending an email is far cheaper than posting a letter – in terms of dollars and your time. It can also generate faster responses and results. There are loads of low-cost options for email marketing – I like Mail Chimp, but others I know use Aweber, Vision6, Campaign Monitor to name just a few.
Once you do go down the road of email marketing PLEASE BE AWARE OF THE SPAM LEGISLATION. Find out more at acma.gov.au. Getting someone’s business card or having them follow you on LinkedIn DOES NOT give you permission to add them to your email list.
9. Media and publicity
Work out your story – if it is newsworthy, journos will want to talk to you. Local and community newspapers/radio/tv are often on the lookout for local interest stories, and trade mags often look for industry information.
Be sure to join SourceBottle, a free and easy-to-use online platform that connects journalists and bloggers with expert sources. I’ve had loads of great publicity after responding to journalist callouts from SourceBottle. Did I mention that it’s free???
10. Say thank you!
Make sure you thank your customers, thank the people who refer business to you and thank your suppliers. A bit of gratitude can go a long way in business.
11. Social media
The benefits of engaging in social media – such as twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube etc include:
- increase your visibility and target your niche market
- build relationships and communities by engaging in conversations with current and prospective clients and suppliers
- share business tips and find business contacts
- follow interesting people who might give you business ideas
- share and discuss business ideas and useful information including web links and photos
- show the human side of your business.
Read my tips on using twitter for business.
12. Create great video content
Video content doesn’t need to be expensive to create. You can start with your smart phone or a digital camera that produces video and edit it with free video editing software that comes with many computers. If that sounds too hard, then create a slide deck and set it to music and share via SlideShare.
13. Use the free resources available to you
There is a massive amount of information on the web (type “cheap marketing ideas” into Google). If you are a small or micro business then check out flyingsolo.com.au– free weekly e-newsletter for soloists and small business.
Don’t forget to listen to podcasts and read blogs. I blogged about a few popular podcasts a while back.
What are your low cost marketing ideas?
If you liked this post, consider signing up to my newsletter (out every Thursday) where I share my blog posts and talk about current topics that interest me. And hopefully interest you too!