Startups and small businesses are on the rise these days, not only in America but all around the world. Each year a number of entrepreneurs try to set their foot in the huge market of startups but unfortunately many of these startups die in their infancy!
I dug deep into many different startups who did not sustain themselves within the market for long and one of the common reasons I found in most was the limited budget or the lack of money.
A limited or tight budget is indeed a serious problem, with very few solutions. However, you can always use that limited money intelligently, make right decisions and earn profits to get access to the resource that can let you survive in the market for a longer period of time.
In this post, I will try to discuss a few tactics you can do to promote your business and attract your targeted audience within a small budget.
Note: Being a foodie I have used a restaurant business as an example for my post. However, no matter which niche you belong to these tips and tricks can definitely be a great help for you.
#1. Apply the Authority Rule
Robert Cialdini, a social psychologist explained 6 key principle of influence in his book called “Influence: Science and Practice”. One of them was “Authority” in which he states that people tend to obey authority figures.
So if you are starting out with a new business, and you are tight on money the easiest idea is to call few people who are an authority within your particular area (maybe a counselor or a book writer who lives within your area) and offer them a free meal. Get feedback and request them to recommend your business to others.
As they are the authority within the area, people will tend to follow their recommendation and will likely try your food. If your product/service is really good you will automatically earn word of mouth which is the most important objective here.
#2. Register an Entity Online
According to census.gov data of 2011, 75.6 percent of people in America have access to a computer, and if you have a computer, the Internet is not too far away! More than half of America is using computers and the internet, so leaving this kind of entity is more like allowing your competitors to win over you.
The idea here is to register your own business entity (website) so that you can easily leverage the targeted audience that is available online. If you have an idea of .php or you are a quick learner then WordPress it could be a nice option for you (I will highly recommend not to go for free domain websites) in case coding and computer languages are not your cup of tea you can use platforms like IM Creator to build a website by just drag and drop.
Once you have created your website, you can always include that on your visiting cards or promotional brochures so that people can easily know where they can find you online.
#3. Leverage Social
Latest research by Static Brain shows that the numbers of monthly active Facebook users are around 1,310,000,000. This number is more than the population of some countries.
In order to grow your business organically and within a tight budget, you have to be where your audience is, and that is why leaving social media would be nothing but a big mistake.
Obviously there are tons of social media platforms available and getting active on all is nearer to impossible so my advice is to look at your competitor’s strategy and see what social media platforms they are using and through which platform your audience is easily reachable, then plan your strategy accordingly.
Normally for a restaurant business (as we are taking this as an example) Facebook, Twitter and Instagram work best!
#4. Deals and Coupons
I am finally recommending this idea in writing because this is something that one of my clients used recently and its return on investment was mind blowing. Therefore, if you are a small business with a tight budget, and you are looking for more sales and client base for your business then this is one of the areas where you should consider investing.
All you have to do is to find deal websites like groupon, fatwallet, dealpursue or restaurant.com and submit your deals. Make sure your offer is solid and you’ll see lot of new customers hopping in buying from you.
Again having a good food and service is important or else you might not be able to get the positive word of mouth.
#5. Set yourself as a Guru!
As discussed in the first point, people tend to follow people they consider as authorities. Thus setting up your image as an expert with your niche can work wonders for you and your business. Luckily, this mostly requires your time and skill instead of money that you are lacking.
The idea is to write for niche related magazines (online and offline), newspapers and other online blogs where people from the targeted industry are already present. If your quality of content is great and your ideas are worth sharing, people will easily remember you as an expert within your particular domain.
Make sure not to come up with an article that does not fit grammatically and sentence wise because this might hurt your reputation instead of building it.
For a restaurant and food business, writing on niche related magazines like Cooking Light, Eating Well and Taste of Home can prove to be very effective as magazine already have a huge reader base as well as subscribers.
#6. Arrange a Bloggers Meetup
This sounds like a big budget game but honestly, if you plan it nicely it might not cost you much and if the content of the meetup is crafted intelligently you will see lot of bloggers talking about you online without you even requesting them to.
Bloggers mostly have a tight schedule and so even if they want they cannot mingle around with other bloggers easily. Thus these type of events are a way for them to come together and if your content is tailored around them, you will see them talking about you and your brand.
I see many big and small food brands as well as restaurants do this from time to time, which eventually helps them get some quick online press which leads them to branding and new customers.
#7. Charity for the Needy
There are tons of organizations and NGOs who are working on different missions like helping the homeless people, providing food and shelter to the needy people and more.
The idea here is to provide donations to such charity organizations (in the form of cash or food itself). At one end you are helping the poor people who are in need of it and at the same time you will be able to gather a positive word of mouth and press from the people as you are doing a positive work on a bigger scale.
Do not try to commercialize your donation and charity as your targeted audience might not appreciate it resulting in a bad press instead of a good one.
There could be many more ideas that I can feature here but the above are the ideas that you can easily implement even with a tight marketing budget. ROI of your efforts will be higher than most marketing strategies that you normally implement.
I used the restaurant business as an example but these ideas can be implemented to any local business that are looking for growth within a tight budget.
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