A lot of entrepreneurs get discouraged because they don’t have massive marketing budgets and assume there aren’t effective ways to promote their business without deep pockets. This is far from the truth.
Even with an unlimited marketing budget, you still need to develop a creative campaign that will produce results. Marketing is more about your message and finding ways to get it out there than it is the amount of money you have access to. When you are working with a limited budget, creativity is your biggest asset.
Here are five ways to market your business, even if you have zero budget.
1. Build an active and loyal social media following
Social media platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter give you direct access to millions of potential customers, located all over the world. You aren’t going to attract followers by just being average. There are far too many options out there.
You will need to put out interesting and unique content in order to build a large following.
As you build your social audience, you will create a valuable asset that allows you to market over and over, without it costing you a dime. Make sure you don’t overwhelm your social audience with constant promotional offers. If someone follows your business on social media, he or she is obviously interested in what you offer.
You don’t need to flood your audience members with direct advertisements; that flood will turn them off and cause them to disconnect with your brand on social media. Instead, subtle and clever posts will naturally spark interest in your brand.
2. Develop referral partnerships with businesses that share your audience
This is a very easy way to place your brand in front of a very targeted audience and quickly build a customer base and generate revenue, which in turn will give you more working capital to scale.
You will have to identify potential referral opportunities that will complement the product or service of the partner. For example, a web design company could set up a referral agreement with a local attorney that specialises in corporation filings. The attorney could send the web designer interested clients and be paid a flat fee per deal or a percentage of the sale.
It’s important to set up a deal with two things in mind – longevity, and keeping the referral partner happy, so he or she continues to funnel business your way. While this strategy will eat up a portion of your profits, it will also allow you to build your business without the advertising expense.
3. Constantly engage with your current customers
Who are the best customers? Repeat customers.
You should have an email list of all your customers, and make it a point to touch base with all of them often. Rather than send direct-sales offers, send interesting information related to your industry.
A ticket reseller, for example, should segment a customer list into groups based on the types of events they’ve purchased tickets to in the past. In this context, the reseller might send everyone on the “sporting events” list an email when a milestone is reached or some significant news breaks, like a major trade.
This kind of marketing keeps your brand fresh in the minds of your customers. That way, the next time they’re in the market for what you offer, you’ll be the first company they think of.
Related: How To Create A Marketing Strategy
4. Get out on the streets
Too many new entrepreneurs think that you can come up with a business, slap together a website, sit back and wait for the money to roll in. There are many success stories about how startups grow into multi-million dollar businesses, and while there are plenty of examples, the media never talks about the early-days struggles.
Successful businesses gain the traction that eventually equals success because of their founder’s hustle. They eat, sleep and breathe their business. You can’t be afraid to dive in and do the ground work yourself. So, pound the phones all day and night to generate sales.
Hit the street, and go talk to every possible customer you can put yourself in front of.
It doesn’t cost you anything to hustle, and the end result can be very rewarding.
5. Do something virally outrageous
Dollar Shave Club launched with a very creative video, which quickly went viral. The video definitely had shock value and caused people to take notice. This helped the company quickly build its subscriber base, which allowed it to scale and claim the majority stake in that market.
If instead Dollar Shave had put out a dry video that was nothing more than information about its service, it would not have received the media attention and free promotion it was able to take advantage of because of that viral video.
Something outside the box can really pay off. Oh, by the way: Dollar Shave Club was just acquired for $1 billion, cash.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Ask These 3 Questions To Determine Where To Spend Your Marketing Budget
Stretching your marketing budget is imperative, especially when there aren’t that many marketing rands to stretch.
As you grow your business, it’s important to be creative and efficient with your money. When it comes to marketing, there are a number of cost-effective ways to spend and save your money. So, if you’re worried about marketing on a limited budget, here’s some helpful info to know.
First, great marketing is about highlighting wants and needs and attaching them to desired outcomes. It’s possible to do that regardless of budget — and every company’s strategy will be different.
For example, when my consultancy worked with Dollar Shave Club to grow its platform beyond viral videos, we focused on establishing a unique voice, which led to creating an editorial component. When we worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger on his fitness and nutrition products, we focused on creating a core mission and understanding why he was involved in the product. And when we worked with Four Sigmatic to market its coffees and teas, we focused on customer acquisition and retention.
3 Questions that Cut Through the Clutter
Those projects all started with the same three questions: What is the value and purpose of your product or service? Who is your target audience? And what is the best platform on which to reach them? That’s where you’ll want to invest most of your attention before you determine where to spend your money. (Notice my word choice: Your planning is an investment; where you spend is a cost.)
1. In general, we prefer to use digital campaigns
It’s easier to track what works and what doesn’t. Plus, digital creates multiple opportunities to engage. Think of it this way: 10% of your audience will buy, 10% won’t and 80% will be on the fence. Would you rather have one shot to convince that 80%, or multiple? By retargeting through something like Facebook ads or Google, or even creating a distribution channel like an email list, you can communicate repeatedly.
2. If you don’t have an audience, spend money fishing in small ponds where you know you can get a bite, and then set yourself up to communicate repeatedly
(This is where creating content as a form of acquisition or building an email list can be incredibly valuable.) Depending on your product or service, this could mean a very targeted ad to a small audience on Facebook — rather than attempting to reach millions — or setting up a pop-up shop, or getting a spot at a local farmers’ market.
3. If you already have an audience, turn them into super-fans who will bring their peers into your universe
Identify previous buyers and give them direct access to you through focus groups or calls. Reward them for their time with product or a gift certificate. When you show your consumer that you care about and appreciate them, it not only increases the likelihood of repurchase but also helps them personally invest in the soul of the business. Not to mention, their insights will help you understand why they bought and how to replicate that process.
Whatever you do — and no matter how big or small your budget — keep finding better answers to the core marketing questions and your success won’t hinge on any one platform.
Gen Z Is Coming! Are You Ready?
How do you market your company to this generation?
According to the CNBC, about 61 000 Gen Zers are on the verge of entering the workforce and consumer market in the US alone.
They are digital natives; they have grown up in a world of vines, txts (yes, we know) and internet. Their attention span is shorter than ever, they are more connected than any other generation, and they are brilliant multitaskers. Gen Z is a more tolerant generation but also more cautious; studies have found less risk-taking amongst this group and an increase in thoughtfulness and questioning authority.
So, on the one side of this coin, how do you market your company to this generation?
1. By being transparent
Be upfront about your business, what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. They have lost faith in corporations. Thus, you must stop relying on and hiding behind small print. Yes, you need terms and conditions to protect your company, but when it looks like a miracle weight-loss advert of the 80s (“Eat anything you want just take this pill. Ts&Cs apply.”), you’ll lose customers.
Related: Investing in Young Entrepreneurs
Gen Z consumers want to see you are real; they don’t want models or celebrities but regular people who can assist them in a manner that speaks to them. And they will hold your business is socially accountable. Instead of producing millions of T-shirts at the cheapest possible price, they want local, equality and free-trade, and they want to know what businesses are doing for the environment and society.
Gen Z won’t accept your claims at your word; they want to see evidence in your company culture.
2. By offering options
A jewellery purchasing study has found that most Gen Zers don’t have a preferred shopping platform. What this means is your messaging, availability and culture need to be spread evenly across all contact points – sales, call centres, website and digital advertising. In fact, many Gen Z consumers rely on mixing their contact points.
That being said, they want immediate action. If they see something they want online, they will go to the shop just to have the item right now. More than immediacy, they also want custom-made or made-to-order products and services. They shy away from traditional made-to-stock methods, which creates plenty of room in the production industry.
3. By being forward thinking
We have to always remember what was mind-blowing inventions to other generations are the norm for Gen Zers. They hold brands and businesses to high expectations, and instead of being loyal to brands, expect brands to be loyal to them. As Gen Z is more focused on individuality, they are also proving to be a generation with a high entrepreneurial output. All this shows that they don’t want the norm; they don’t crave what’s new today, they want tomorrow, sustainability and innovation, and they want it now.
On the other side of the coin, how do you attract this generation to work at your company? In much the same way.
1. By being transparent
As much as you are hiring them based on what they bring to the table, so too are they looking at what you can afford them. But, they don’t just want to hear you tell them about the benefits, they want to see it – and they are not after just money. Gen Zers want to be financially secure, but also one that is fulfilling; one where they find purpose in their jobs and company.
2. By offering options
Gen Z employees don’t want to work eight to five, they don’t want to be chained to a desk, and they don’t want to be micro-managed. Give them flexibility on how they want to conduct their work and how they can communicate with their colleagues. Create an understanding workspace for their needs and help them improve their skills – for instance, it’s been reported that a stumbling block for Gen Zers is communication. Growing up with emojis and text messages make face-to-face conversations, business calls and writing emails difficult for them.
Gen Z employees want to work hard and grow their skills. Even though they’re growing up in a super-paced society, they want to climb the corporate ranks at the given speed. What they crave, with urgency, is gaining value from their jobs.
Related: The Z Generation
3. By being forward thinking
They are lateral thinkers, and their creativity is not just outside the box but has broken the box completely. Gen Z is incredibly tech-savvy, and they will challenge the systems and procedures you have in place if these are not providing the needed speed and data required. Thus, they crave to work in an environment where they can push boundaries and ultimately help the company move forward. Hiring from the Gen Z pool can provide you with innovative insights into your business that can grow it towards tomorrow’s giants.
The only way to be sure you are future-proofing your business is by guaranteeing it caters for future customers and employees, by relying on forward-thinking enterprise resource planning software, for instance. Epicor ERP software ensures that their clients stay agile and innovative through trusting top minds to build and develop intelligent systems that open doors for Gen Zers. It’s Epicor’s innate tech-savviness that allows them to visualise the landscape of tomorrow and develop the software to support it today.
Free Sample Marketing Plan Template
You don’t need an MBA to write a marketing plan for your business. While no two businesses are alike, all solid marketing plans need to provide specific information. Use this sample marketing plan template to get you started on the right foot and cover all the essential information.
Your marketing plan should provide a comprehensive blueprint of the business, its market and associated market activity, its position in the market, target and expected customers, offerings, competition, solutions and contingency plans.
Using a sample Marketing Plan Template can save you a lot of time in creating your own marketing plan.
Download a Sample Marketing Plan Template
Use the free templates below to help make sure you’ve covered all the important bits:
Recommended Marketing Reads:
- Smart Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses
- Mega Guide to Online Marketing
- Marketing Toolbox for the Entrepreneur
- The Ultimate Marketing Tool Library for Entrepreneurs
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