How to market your business on a tight budget

Marketing involves anything you do to promote and expand your business; including market research, advertising, publicity, sales and distribution. Sally Butters, Head of Media at Coconut Creatives, suggests a few cost-saving marketing methods that you can implement if you are working to a tight budget.

To ensure that your marketing campaigns are as effective as possible, you should decide on a specific market to target. Research to find out where your target market are likely to spend the most time and ensure that you are advertising in those places. For example, if you were looking to target the youth market, the best place for you to advertise would be online on websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. They are also the market most likely to share any information they receive from you with their friends and family. This market research will save you money in the long term by helping you to focus your campaigns on a specific audience and stop you from marketing to people who are unlikely to respond.

Marketing through word-of-mouth is one of the cheapest and most effective methods you can use to spread the word about your business quickly and to a large number of people. Creating profiles on social networking sites will help you to promote your business through word-of-mouth. Online profiles will create an identity for your business and make it feel much more personal to your customers. These profiles will connect you to people who may be looking for exactly the type of product or service you are providing and help you to create relationships with customers who may not already know about your business. Make sure you keep your website and online profiles up-to-date to keep your customers interested in your campaigns.

These online profiles will provide you with information about what is happening in your area of business and tell you how your customers are reacting to the product or service you are providing. Social media will provide you with low-cost market research which can then be used to improve your business to suit your customers’ wants and needs. Asking satisfied customers to write short reviews or comments about your business will provide you with a source of positive feedback that can be displayed on your website or included on any promotional material you produce. Although using social media can be an extremely effective marketing tool, it is important that you do not rely on it for all of your marketing success; you will need to integrate it with a combination marketing activities and tactics to really see the results. For example, look at using QR codes on your printed collateral to lead customers through to a webpage full of positive testimonials.

When producing printed collateral such as catalogues and brochures consider if they can be hosted online to reduce print costs and when updates are needed, these can then be made without significant print costs. If you are producing printed leaflets or brochures, consider whether the content is really appropriate and if all of the pages are really necessary. Using a third party to review the content is a worthwhile exercise and can question the validity of the content and the collateral’s impact.

If you are investing in a marketing campaign, make sure that you take time to consider its appeal to your target market. If it gains a positive reaction then you will also benefit from turning it in to a long-term campaign, for example, consider the popularity of the meerkats for Updating an existing campaign can be much cheaper than creating a new campaign from scratch.

Investigate other successful companies in your area of business to see how you can improve your own business and your marketing strategies. Get hold of their literature and promotional material and compare them to your own. This will help you see how other companies may be targeting customers and help you to improve your marketing to attract more business. However, you should also be clear on how your business is different from your competitors! Making the unique benefits of your product, service or support package the centre of your marketing campaign is the most effective messaging and tactic for a return on your marketing budget.