Marketing is, in theory, the best way to build brand recognition along with sales, and eventually, revenue. However, there’s a small problem: most marketing strategies require a significant upfront investment of capital before they start paying off. For example, if you’re pursuing traditional advertising, you’ll need to spend money to have your ads placed in high-traffic areas where your target audience is likely to see them.
If you’re a fresh startup or a small business with limited cash, marketing may seem prohibitive due to its cost. However, there are a number of cost-efficient ways you can launch a marketing strategy, even when you don’t have much money to spare.
These are just some of the ways you can market your business more effectively on a limited budget:
1. Open a business line of credit. Establishing a business line of credit is an ideal way to manage your recurring expenditures, like marketing, when you’re first starting up with limited access to revenue. As National Business Capital explains, this isn’t the same thing as a business loan; loans are fixed and are used for one specific purpose, while a line of credit can be tapped multiple times in multiple ways and doesn’t require a monthly payment. Establishing this line of credit will allow you to handle the upfront costs of your chosen marketing strategies without worrying about the extra burden on your cash flow; as long as your strategies pay off, it will be worth the withdrawal.
2. Rely on social media marketing. It’s completely free to create a social media profile, and free to post on most traditional outlets. If you’re smart about what you’re posting, relying on valuable updates and original material, you can easily generate a following that can turn into paying customers. It takes time and effort, but it won’t cost you much in the way of money unless you’re planning on pursuing an advertising campaign.
3. Build your content marketing strategy. Content marketing is popular for a reason. It’s a multifaceted way to increase your brand’s visibility, increase user trust, earn more conversions, and feed into other marketing strategies, all at the same time. Best of all, you don’t need to invest much money in your strategy initially; if you take it upon yourself to develop content, you can start realizing the benefits with only a few hours a week of investment.
4. Optimize for search engines. Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about changing your website and engaging in activities that gradually increase your site’s rankings in search engines. It seems complicated on the surface, and to be sure, there are a number of variables and technical considerations you’ll need to understand, but the basics are approachable and learnable. Onsite optimization doesn’t take much effort and can earn you much more visibility in the digital realm.
5. Guest posts on offsite authorities. While you’re pursuing content marketing and SEO, consider developing a personal brand to guest post on external authorities—these can be industry sites, news sites, or general publishers. The more your work is featured offsite, the more authority your domain will build and the more referral traffic you’ll generate. Plus, you generally don’t have to pay for these opportunities if you have good ideas for content.
6. Make the news. Sometimes, you can market your business without spending any money at all or taking any extra effort. If your business gets involved with something newsworthy, such as hosting a major event or taking part in a city-wide celebration, you can get your business featured in the news without even trying. You can also use services like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) or develop your own press release distribution to increase your exposure here.
7. Create a referral program. Finally, you can let your existing customers do some of the marketing for you. Create a referral program that rewards your customers for bringing in new customers, such as a $100 cash bonus for any potential client they refer. It’s almost like converting your customer base into an extension of your sales staff.
Remember Your ROI
As you consider investing in various marketing strategies, either in time or in money, remember that your bottom line here is your return on investment (ROI). It may seem intimidating to put $10,000 into a marketing strategy, but if that strategy earns you $20,000 in new revenue, it will be more than worth it. Try not to exclude marketing strategies based purely on cost alone, and instead focus on the long-term return your strategies are likely to provide.
Optimizing for the Long Term
Many of the strategies we listed above are suitable for both short-term and long-term use. However, once you establish a foundational marketing strategy and start earning recurring revenue, you can put that money to use by investing in even bigger, more prominent strategies. As long as you retain your focus on ROI and adjust your tactics to suit your changing goals, you’ll continue to reap the rewards of your efforts.