How to Market Your Small Business for Less Than $100
<strong>How to Market Your Small Business for Less Than $100-More than ever before, businesses must be actively engaged in marketing in order to remain competitive. While the internet has leveled the playing field considerably, small businesses still need to compete with big, multinational brands; and given the small or even non-existent budgets of these businesses, this can certainly be a challenge.
Fortunately, there are many services, social media platforms and SAAS’s (software as a service sites) that can help small business owners minimize this challenge. This post will look at ways even the smallest businesses can do digital and social media marketing on the cheap.
Build a user-friendly website. An effective website should not only contain vital information about your business and products, it should act as the foundation of your other marketing strategies. It will contain the bulk of your content (e.g., blog posts), and it will be the hub to which you direct your email subscribers and social media followers. It seems that most business owners have now clued in to this fact: according to the Salesforce 2015 State of Marketing report, a corporate website is now the #1 most commonly used digital marketing channel among business owners.
One of the most popular tools for building and managing a self-hosted website is WordPress, known for its easy-to-use interface and huge library of plugins and themes. It’s used by large media outlets like The New York Times and TechCrunch, as well as by small, independent bloggers. And the best part? It’s absolutely free. Keep in mind you will need to pay around $8/month for hosting your site.
Have an active presence on social media. In a survey of 569 consumers, Hubspot asked participants what they expect from brands on social media. Respondents said they expect brands to be active primarily on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; in any case, they expect brands to have a presence on a minimum of 3 platforms. It’s clear that consumers expect easy access to brands – both big and small – on whichever digital platforms they frequent.
While all of the major social networking sites give free access to their users, marketing on these platforms does require a significant investment of time and energy. Some best practices for your social marketing strategy: Use social media to provide useful and relevant information; become a trusted source of industry data and insights; respond to questions and complaints in a timely and respectful manner. These are the keys to social media marketing success.
Use email marketing to nurture your leads. While social media and your website are both critical for lead generation, some research suggests that up to 79 percent of leads never result in sales. The solution? Nurturing these leads through sending timely and customized messages right to your prospects’ inboxes. Through the use of segmentation, you can send highly relevant information and offers directly to your subscribers, resulting in higher conversion rates than can be achieved on most other channels.
Using a service like Constant Contact will allow you to capture leads on your website or social media channels using customizable opt-in boxes and templates. It will also allow you to easily send emails to your list, and monitor and track important metrics like open rates, click-throughs and conversions.
Get listed on online review sites. According to research released by BrightLocal, 88 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. For this reason, it’s extremely important that small business owners work to encourage positive customer reviews on sites like Yelp, Angie’s List and Google My Business.
Having positive reviews on these sites can lead not only to increased website traffic and leads, but to increased visibility in local search results. And since most online review sites don’t charge businesses to get listed, it’s a zero-risk option for businesses with no room in the budget for marketing.
Generate free publicity with HARO. As a small or even microbusiness owner, hiring a professional PR company likely isn’t in the cards. That doesn’t mean, however, that you’re destined for eternal anonymity. Using a free service like HARO (Help A Reporter Out) gives you access to queries from huge media and news outlets like Forbes, ABC and Fox. Simply sign up for an account, and receive daily emails with media queries you can choose to respond to.
Leverage visual content to increase your visibility. Images and videos on social media are bigger than ever, both in terms of reach and engagement. For instance, posting relevant images can send your engagement levels through the roof, while videos are great for increasing your organic reach.
Use a tool like Canva to create branded images (cost ranges from free to $1 per image), or a free app like Magisto to add special effects, frames or music to your videos. Infographics can also be a great way to share interesting industry statistics in an appealing format. Using a tool like Piktochart, you can easily create your own infographics for a little as $15/month.
Guest blog on relevant sites in your industry. Contributing guest posts to well-known and respected sites in your niche or industry can be a great way to reach a new, targeted audience. Write about topics where you can provide unique insights, establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field. Most sites will allow you to include a bio with your post; don’t forget to include a link back to your site along with an offer for a free niche-specific product (eBook, whitepaper, webinar, etc.). In this way, your guest posts also function as a vital component of your online marketing funnel, moving readers to your website and onto your email list.
Effectively marketing your small business doesn’t have to break the bank. With so many free and low-cost tools and services now available, your marketing strategy is only limited by your time and imagination