Although marketing is essential for business growth, too many businesses overlook it when the budget is low. Often, they halt or reduce their advertising to save on costs. However, marketing directly impacts your business's growth, which increases the size of your budget. Investing in marketing, therefore, increases the amount of money rolling back in.
Look to your revenue as a guide on how much should be in your marketing budget. Generally, business-to-business companies should budget between 2 and 5% of their revenue on marketing. Whereas business-to-consumer companies should budget a higher proportion between 5 and 10%.
Of course, budgets can get tight for small businesses, so that's easier said than done. Fortunately, you don't need to wait to grow. Instead, there are ways to market even with a shoe-string budget.
Use Strategic Email and Social Media Marketing
Email and social media marketing are vital to companies with a small budget. They're generally inexpensive and accessible for new businesses due to their low cost to start. You can also implement them yourself as you grow and expand your presence, so there's no shortage of benefits there, either.
You'll notice that these two strategies are unquestionably better together, which is why so many marketers integrate email into their marketing mix. Social media is a great place to attract recipients to your email list and nourish your relationship with them. On the other hand, email is a great place to send personalized content, deals, and social updates.
For instance, you can develop your email list to create a connection with your audience and additional strategies to provide information and engage with customers in real-time on social media.
Inspire Customers to Advocate for You
Consumer advocates are the best form of marketing — not to mention it's often FREE. Developing deep, personal connections with your customers (in-person or online through email marketing) increases the likelihood that customers will recommend your brand to their friends and family. It benefits your brand because word-of-mouth is much more convincing and effective than any other form of marketing.
Word of mouth is one of the most trusted channels since 86% of customers trust word-of-mouth reviews and recommendations, and 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends. This channel drives $6 trillion of annual consumer spending. Creating a brand that emotionally resonates with your audience increases the odds of benefiting from word-of-mouth recommendations, receiving three times more recommendations than brands without that emotional connection.
Some strategies to subtly encourage customers to recommend your brand include interacting and engaging on social or giving exceptional customer service. A more overt approach would be to create a referral program and reward customers who recommend your brand with special deals.
Get Your Name Out There
You will also want to take advantage of opportunities that allow your brand to reach larger audiences and get your name out there. For instance, public relations is excellent for introducing your brand to more customers. Get your name out there by guest blogging, partaking in an event, or getting your brand in the press. The key is to get the word out that you exist.
Likewise, you need to develop your brand story to educate customers about your offerings and make you more memorable. Getting your name out there is excellent, but it can be counterproductive if people don't remember you. It will also humanize your brand in easily understandable terms — making it easier for consumers to connect and relate to you.
Consumers feel immediately connected to brands they're more familiar with over one's they don't know. Take Coca-Cola, for instance. Most (if not all) consumers know their red, Gotham font and instantly associate it with a known, trusted, and credible brand.
Invest in Online Ads
Digital advertising is a low-cost starting ground for your marketing, so it's also an excellent method to count on when you have a tight budget. Small businesses with a small budget often look to pay-per-click (PPC) and social advertising, in the beginning, to reach customers and encourage sales or visits to their website. It is generally easy to navigate and execute if you're new to digital marketing.
What's more, your initial investment can increase sales along the way as it evolves into more complex areas of digital marketing. From more involved marketing methods like video or over-the-top (OTT) and even TV commercials, digital advertising can get hyper-targeted and measurable — which means better results and stronger consumer relationships.
You'll want to stay up-to-date on all the digital marketing basics, paying particular attention to mobile optimization and avoiding any reliance on one platform to reach your objectives.
Partner With Strong Allies
Partnerships can offset your costs and allow you to leverage other's strengths in your marketing, whether you're partnering with another local business or working with a media partner. Media partners, in particular, give you access to greater expertise to allow your marketing budget to go further and produce better results more quickly.
One of the biggest challenges for small businesses with a tight budget and dreams for significant growth is using their marketing budget efficiently. It takes a lot of knowledge and experience to integrate strategies like social media, email, public relations, online ads, and partnerships in a way that meets your resources while exceeding your expectations. Media partners harness that power to maximize your potential.