Marketing your small business on a shoestring budget

When it comes to starting up and growing a small business venture, you are typically working with an equally small budget that doesn’t really leave much room for manoeuvre. This means that the prospect of marketing and promotion can often seem extremely daunting and overwhelming for somebody who has a tight grasp on their purse strings. However we’re here to make you see that your marketing strategy doesn’t have to break the bank.

Of course you can pump as much cash into your business marketing plan as you like. Feel free to hire an SEO specialist, a social media manager and a PR person just to make sure that you’ve got all angles covered. However if you haven’t yet made your first million and you’re looking for a more cost effective way of exposing your brand to the right people and retaining your existing customers then take advantage of these eight budget-friendly techniques.

Attend networking events – When you think of marketing you think of flashy ad campaigns and all singing-all dancing social media profiles but what business owners and their employees often forget is that they are the brand. Attend as many industry-specific networking events as you can cram into your busy schedules to spread the word about who you are and what you do as well as expanding your network of connections.

Maintain a good quality blog – Most businesses these days no matter how big or small, will have a blog where they regularly upload original and shareable content. This content then forms the basis of what they share on their social media platforms meaning users are repeatedly redirected back to their website. Be sure that what you are posting is relevant and useful for your customers to keep them coming back for more time and time again.

Send out press releases – As a start-up micro-business you probably won’t have the need nor the financial means to recruit the expertise of an external PR company but while your venture is in its infancy, this isn’t a problem. With some thorough research into writing a strong press release and sourcing of the right contacts, you can circulate press releases to relevant news platforms all by yourself.

Take advantage of social media – It is also unlikely at this stage that you will be able to afford the luxury of a full-time social media manager so look to free services such as Hootsuite and Buffer to do this yourself too. By using scheduling facilities such as these, you can make your social media is tip-top in advance so you aren’t fretting about it on a daily basis. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn are invaluable for businesses of all shapes and sizes, especially SMEs looking to make their mark on the industry.

Contribute to a publication – Generating original content for your own blog is paramount in this digital day an age but it is also highly beneficial to get your work featured on other websites and blog pages. This marketing technique is called link building and involves getting other brands to link back to your website or feature a guest blog from yourselves to direct readers to you. All this requires is good communication and negates the need for those heavy ad space expenses.

Sponsor a charity event – Another great way to get your branding out there is by sponsoring an industry-related event. Do some research into the events happening within your sector and offer yourself up as a sponsor. While this might cost a little bit of money to have your promotional material and marketing literature distributed around the venue, it will be a small one-off cost that should provide some lucrative ROI.

Appear at tradeshows and fairs – As well as attending regular networking events, it’s also a great idea to sign up to an annual tradeshow or fair. Again, this might initially cost a little bit of money to purchase an allocated space at the event but the connections you make and the leads you can gain will be more than worth it. This will give you chance to speak to prospective customers face-to-face, which is something brands don’t do enough of today.

Build a database of emails – While you are carrying out all of these thrifty but effective marketing techniques, make sure that you are collating any email addresses you pick up along the way. Collect customer email addresses through your website, through social media promotions and in person then store these in an online database such as Mailchimp. You can then send out regular newsletters and email updates to your existing and potential demographic.

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