When your business is just starting out, you probably don’t have a huge budget to spend on advertising, and word of mouth doesn’t spring up by itself. Having a clear, accessible website and a strong social media presence should already be commonplace, but these can’t stand as marketing on their own (and we hope we don’t need to tell you what to post on social media).
Therefore, you’ll need to get creative if you’re going to make your mark.
Check out these six tips for marketing your small business on a budget. Many of them are surprisingly easy, and when executed right, can do wonders for your startup.
#1. Brand Blogging
Starting a brand blog might seem pretty standard by now, but it’s the way in which you use your blog that counts. Rather than simply seeing it as a view to promote company announcements, create interesting content that will be useful to your target customers.
Top 10 lists; top tips and how-to guides will all go a long way to serving your audience and forging a bond of trust from the onset. You can find what people in your niche want to know by using Google Adwords to see the search volume for certain keywords and topics (no paid account required).
You can also deliver posts that are topical or seasonal and unrelated to your field (as well as the more relevant stuff) to become integrated into your audience’s daily lives and start to build a warm community. Be funny; be silly; be sage; be entertaining. People will buy from you by the way you make them feel – not by you telling them your products are worth buying.
Blogging is one of the easiest ways to introduce members of your team; promote transparency, and make your brand more human.
#2. Instructional Videos
If images are worth 1000 words, video is…
Well, we’ll let you finish that sentence.
It doesn’t take a lot of fancy equipment to create a video people will want to share and link to. As long as you use a good quality camera (that provides high resolution footage), a well-lit environment and maybe a tripod, you can create a good tutorial, commentary or demonstration that will be genuinely useful to your potential consumers. And if it’s not perfect, don’t worry, as people are starting to relish a more DIY style.
You may decide to keep the camera static or take your viewers on an explorative, hand held journey within your office space. Online tutorials (using software or programs) are even simpler to put together, as all you’ll need are some pc recording software and a good mic.
Nowadays, you may not even need a camera. This post from Wisteria shows you how to film a high quality brand video using an iPhone.
#3. Mock Content
Fewer things get your audience’s attention like a hilarious, satirical and/or parody-esque piece of content. This approach has worked for the likes of DollarShaveClub, whose parody online ad saw it go from zero to hero, and Old Spice, whose hilarious ads and websites selling fake products made it a household name.
Some major brands have even used mock ads to make fun of their competitors, such as IKEA (whose Singapore advert mimicked the style of Apple to sell its new catalogue) and T-Mobile (which mocked its rival Boost Mobile’s ad, featuring famous rappers, by inventing ‘Poser Mobile’ to sell its own PAYG phone plan).
The best part is that mock content often looks better if it’s DIY, as this tends to add to the humour factor. If you choose to go the competitor route, remember you don’t need to be negative about the other brand. As long as you can explain what your company does differently, consumers may be swayed to give your company a shot over a familiar favourite.
You won’t be able to do everything alone – some things might take a little more skill. Luckily, services like Craigslist and Fiverr enable you to get quick, specialist jobs done for a pretty cheap fee.
Fiverr, for example, has a whole host of writers, bloggers, photographers, designers and animators, all willing to offer their services for no more than five bucks. However, use Fiverr wisely – paying for likes on Facebook or a mention on an obscure blog is not going to do much for your outreach. Read this post for the pros and cons of using Fiverr and how you can make it work for you.
Craigslist and oDesk are great places to find freelancers willing to do odd jobs as well as students looking to broaden their portfolios. Take a chance on somebody and it might benefit both of you.
#5. Social Bookmarks
Social bookmarks are a useful way to share your content around, with Reddit and Stumbleupon probably being the most effective. Both can be described as immediate ‘windows’ into what is going on on the internet, with topics broken down by niches (very specific ones in Reddit’s case) and promoted/demoted depending on how popular they are with readers.
Before posting links on Reddit, you’ll want to read and abide by the appropriate ‘Reddiquette’, which means sharing only awesome content, not being too self-promotional, and responding to others’ posts.
Stumbleupon is also free, but you can opt to go for Stumbleupon advertising, which at a base rate of 10 cents per click, is much cheaper than any social media advertising plan. Each additional filter to add to your ad costs just 2 cents. The more specified and unique you make your niche, the more exposure and traction you’re likely to get.
#6. Guerrilla Marketing
Guerrilla marketing may take a little more time and planning than an online campaign, but the effects can be monumental for any fledgling brand. Guerrilla marketing is cheap and relatively easy to implement; all you’ll need is a bit of creativity and the drive to think outside of the box. They can also be immensely fun to pull off, and any interaction with the public you have can double up as market research.
Some good guerrilla marketing techniques include: street art; giving away free stuff; a sticker campaign; a flash mob (T-Mobile); publicity stunts or demonstrations (Red Bull), and treasure hunts (which can also be carried out online).
Your campaign will need to be well thought out and extensively planned, to avoid any setbacks happening on the day. It’s also preferable to make sure you won’t be breaking any local rules or laws (unless of course, that’s the kind of reputation you’re going for…).
You can find some useful tips on carrying out guerrilla marketing, along with some prime examples here.
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