Whether you operate a small business as a side hustle, a mature but moderately successful start-up, or you went all-in on your passion after losing your enthusiasm for your 9-to-5, you’re probably up against the same problem: how to max out your business’s marketing reach on a limited budget.
The good news is that this is achievable. Marketing doesn't solely rely on big ad buys and flashy billboards. It’s about reaching people where they are, which could be as simple as posting a flyer on a utility pole. Let’s talk about how you can hone your marketing approach and reach your ideal customer on a limited budget.
1. Know Your Business
To market your business effectively, you must know your business inside out. But to do that, you have to understand exactly what your business is and what you have to offer.
Start by identifying your business's “value proposition” — why are customers going to choose you over competitors in the same space?
Consider the benefits and features of your products or services and compare them to those of your competitors. This comparison should reveal what makes your business unique. Going forward, focus your marketing efforts on those unique advantages.
2. Know Your Target Audience
Now that you know what you’re selling, you have to determine who exactly you’re selling to. Your target audience is the group of people who are most likely to buy your product or service.
You might already know who these people are; many businesses and products were created with a specific demographic or target audience in mind from the very beginning. If you did it the other way, that’s fine too; you just have some research to do.
Essentially, you need to find out who your target audience is, and where they spend their time, whether that’s IRL or online. Age and net worth, income, political attitudes, hobbies, career, and lifestyle are just a few of the characteristics that you can plug into your audience profile.
If you already have social media accounts set up, analytics can yield a gold mine of information about the people who are already coming to you. The same applies if you already have your first customers; asking them to complete a short survey or online poll can yield absolutely priceless market research that will help you adjust and refine your outreach.
3. Make A Plan and Stick To It
Now that you know what you’re selling, and who you’re marketing to, you should come up with a detailed marketing plan.
Make it as detailed as possible. Include timelines, target dates, final and incremental goals, and milestones to measure your progress. For example, instead of saying your goal is to “increase website traffic,” phrase your goal as “increasing website traffic by 15% or more.”
Track measurables like social media and website impressions, number of new customers, market share, and month-over-month sales. Gathering concrete data on your marketing efforts is the only way to tell if what you’re doing is working.
4. Have a Nice-Looking Landing Site
Once you start attracting customers through your marketing efforts, you want to have a user-friendly, attractive website set up where they can find you.
One very important point is to have a mobile-optimized version as well as a desktop version. Most people who look up your business are going to be doing so on a mobile device— often from a car— so you need to make it easy for those customers to find you.
5. Go Online
At the risk of stating the obvious, a huge part of marketing in 2023 takes place online. The upside is that it’s mostly free. The downside is that there are a lot of other businesses competing for the same eyeballs you’re chasing.
There are a few ways to stand out online and reach the audience you need to reach.
You’ve probably seen online articles that explain a complex topic, provide a how-to list, or present interesting insights — useful pieces like “Are Moving Costs Tax Deductible?” These pieces typically end with a “call to action” or marketing copy promoting a specific company. These are examples of content marketing, and they’re so effective because they capture the reader’s attention with valuable information before delivering the actual marketing hook.
Social Media and Influencer Marketing
When we talk about social media marketing, we’re talking about a two-pronged approach. First, your brand should have a robust presence on all the major social media platforms, as well as an aggressive social media strategy that will raise brand awareness in a way that’s organic and clever. Second, targeted ads on social media platforms can be an extremely effective way to reach your target audience.
Tangential to social media marketing is influencer marketing. Influencers have a large, engaged following that can give your business a ton of exposure. If the demographic profile of your target audience is a good match with an influencer’s audience who operates in your business’s area of expertise, partnering with them can be super effective.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
When you’re setting up your website and writing your content marketing, make sure you follow SEO best practices. Search engine optimization is just the practice of composing your material in a way that’s visible and legible to search engines like Google.
For example, if your business sells long-distance moving services, you want to structure your website so that whenever someone searches “best long-distance moving companies,” you appear at or near the top of the results.
6. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Reviews
While word of mouth can still be a powerful driver of new business, online review sites like Yelp and Facebook fulfill a very similar function as word of mouth— and can be just as influential.
Good reviews can quickly attract new customers and generate high-quality leads, while bad ones can be ruinous. Do everything you can to encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews; many businesses offer incentives like discounts or member points for reviews. Once you have authentic positive reviews, make sure you feature them in your marketing materials and on your website.
7. Fliers, Direct mailing, Posters, and Brochures
With so much emphasis on online marketing, it’s easy to forget about old-fashioned IRL marketing. Something as simple as passing out fliers, putting brochures in mailboxes, and putting up posters in high-traffic areas can be incredibly effective at raising brand awareness, and it’s not as expensive as you might think.
Wrapping Up: Look at Ways to Expand Your Budget
It's advisable to adopt a radical approach when considering cost-cutting measures for your operating budget. This entails a comprehensive evaluation of cheaper equipment suppliers, a rigorous comparison of more cost-effective vendors, and the mindful consideration of downsizing or consolidating your staff. Additionally, relocating your business to a different city or opting for a less-expensive office may yield a significant revenue shift. By implementing these measures, you can effectively free up resources for your marketing budget and enhance your overall profitability.