I used to think that in order to get ahead in business – I needed to spend a lot on marketing. So naturally, when I started my first venture, I thought that I needed to employ the services of one of those expensive local marketing firms. The thing was – I was wrong.
Money was tight so I couldn’t really stretch to the four-figure sums they were asking for – so I started looking for alternatives and tried doing things myself. After a few mistakes and a lot of trial-and-error, I started seeing positive results. I know consider myself a bootstrap marketing expert – and many of the techniques I learnt, I still use today. Even though I can afford more expensive marketing budgets. In this article, I’m going to share a few of my tips so that you can start marketing your business on a tight budget – just like I did.
Create Great Content
For any online venture, compelling and sharable content should be the cornerstone of your marketing efforts. It’s all very well trying to spam links – but quality speaks for itself. When I first realised this – my marketing efforts started falling into place a lot more easily.
One of the best things about quality content is that it really works for you. It markets itself. When you provide people with the valuable and relevant information they were looking for – they’ll be far more likely to share it and show other people. This helps you in two ways – you get more backlinks for SEO and you’ll also get direct clicks from the links people share.
When I first started creating really great 2000+ word relevant blog posts – I soon started noticing traffic from more and more new sources. Another great thing you can do with quality content is syndicate it on other relevant authorities in your niche.
I actually reached out to a couple of big players in my industry (sites with far more visitors than I got) and asked if they’d like to republish a few of my articles. When they saw the quality I was offering, they were happy to do so. This sort of relationship gave me not only some good quality link juice, but direct traffic that was already super-switched on to my niche.
Great content really does speak for itself. So start creating it, and start publishing it.
Use Social Media to Your Advantage
When I was first starting out – social media like Twitter was just taking off. Facebook was already fully established. A lot of my business education had ignored the power of these platforms as marketing tools – but I slowly started to realise they were something I could use to my advantage. Actually – they’re now a marketing tool that many businesses (big or small) would be foolish to ignore.
Firstly – social media gives you a communication channel with both existing and potential customers that was previously almost impossible to find. People are there, ready and willing to connect with you and your brand.
Older businesses used to sell something and then never hear from the customer again. But if you can get them to “like” or follow you on social media, you’ll be able to stay in touch and offer more of the same to get them to return. Not only that, but an effective social media presence will help spread your message for you.
When someone likes you, they’re not just telling you – they’re telling their friends. If you can foster a good relationship with your followers, they’ll do a lot of the marketing legwork for you by sharing your content with their extended lists. That means your following could grow organically, and so could your customer-base.
While one of those overnight viral sensations that get millions of views might be hard to come up with for a small business (you can still try) – creating an active and engaging social media presence isn’t actually that difficult.
Try offering special deals and exclusive discounts only to those who follow you. I actually liked starting video diaries of our business so people could see the personal side of things. Try offering exclusive contests and competitions that keep people engaged and entertained. I actually ran a few successful contests that saw my following grow considerably.
One important factor in creating a successful social media presence is to get as many people to follow you as possible. Make sure all your staff are aware of your social media profiles and that they’re mentioning it to whoever enters your store. Print it on receipts. Put posters up. Make it clear how to follow you and offer followers value once they do so. You should start to notice your following increase, just like I did.
Don’t ignore Marketing Opportunities in Your Local Area
When I first started my online venture – it was something I hoped had global reach. That’s one of the benefits of a successful online business – you can do business and sell to people anywhere. But I soon started to realise that there were some local networking and marketing opportunities that I could use to give myself an even better chance of success.
You see, people feel more loyal towards something when they know it’s in the local area. Even if you’re running a business with global reach, you still don’t want to seem like a faceless entity to those in your local area.
There are tons of marketing opportunities that you can use locally that don’t cost much at all. I actually started to attend local networking events. Not only were they a great place to hand out leaflets and business cards and tell people about my business – but I also found other like-minded business people to work with on other projects.
Leaflets actually made a big difference to my business in the beginning. I printed a load out myself and actually went door-to-door with them. If you want to be successful, you can’t think of yourself as above this sort of hard work. The good thing about this was that it actually reached people who had no idea about my products or what they could do for them.
A lot of people in internet marketing are often pitching offers at the same sort of people. People who have seen the same sort of thing before. When you go door-to-door, or hand out leaflets on the street – you get to people who had no idea about your niche and are more of a captive audience. I started seeing a few more results when I hit the streets and did it the hard way.
The opportunities to find great marketing opportunities in your local area are almost endless – and they aren’t always in the places you might think. I actually started offering lessons to a local business tuition service based in Singapore, SmileTutor. This actually ended up being far more successful than I thought it would be as it put in me touch with a number of like-minded businesspeople who had their own brands and markets. Not only did I help educate the future minds of commerce, they also helped market my business in return.
Hopefully, these tips have been enough to help you start marketing your business effectively on a tight budget, just like I did.
Author Bio – Peter Elton has been writing about marketing issues for a number of years and enjoys sharing his knowledge with those new to the industry. He’s also seen how the right language skills can now help you get ahead in a global business climate. That’s why he helps out a blog that provides language tips to students, including the importance of learning Mandarin Chinese.