In a world dominated by corporate giants, it can be tough for small businesses to compete. Especially if the infrastructure in your country is weak like it is in Nigeria. Here are a few ways to market your small business on a shoestring budget.
However, before we get started, it is vital to note that there are many advantages to running your own small business. If you can get your digital marketing strategy right, your small business can be successful.
Do It Yourself
As a small business owner who maybe you’re just starting and don’t have the resources yet to hire. Therefore, you need to get comfortable doing things yourself.
Though your complimentary card may give a fancy title like ‘Founder’ or ‘CEO’. In the initial days, you will wear several hats and be your receptionist, secretary, bookkeeper, graphics designer, social media manager and the security guard! Doing all these things yourself will have you to save money.
At this stage in your business where you are operating on a shoestring budget, make Google your best friend. Go on Google and try to find answers and solutions to questions and issues that arise.
Get Involved and Design In-house
These days there are lots of fancy software on online print shops. Using these solutions will enable you to get involved in designing and printing your logo and stationery. Thereby saving you some money.
However, I often advise clients that their brand identity is not something they should take lightly. Don’t be penny-wise with the design and printing of your logo, stationery, and other marketing materials.
If you have the resources but no skills, then it’s better to outsource these to professionals who can help you craft a professional brand identity. As the saying goes, you never have a second chance to make an excellent first impression. So the best thing is to get it right the first time around.
Get Your Trademark and Copyright
Years ago, during my first business venture, I learnt the hard way the value of trademarks and copyright. You see back then I was approaching a lot of potential clients with nothing more than my ideas and intellectual property.
Only for me to discover that one of the potential clients I approached ended up taking my tagline and used it to advertise one of their products. To add salt to injury, they planted a billboard near my street!
Getting your trademark and copyright issues sorted might entail you using the services of a lawyer. This will be more than your shoestring budget. Therefore, look for a lawyer willing to work pro bono.
However, based on my experience, I feel this is not an area you need to overlook when starting your small business.
Know Your Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats
Owning a small business in most cases means working from home. Working from home allows you to save on costs by eliminating the overhead of separate premises. It will enable you to have more flexibility in your working hours and greater control over your working environment.Create your niche market by being able to offer a tailored service or a unique product that exactly meets your customers' needs. Click To Tweet
You must identify the strengths and weaknesses of your business so you can look for opportunities to build on and also overcome any potential threats.
Doing so will help you market the business by targeting the correct people and conveying the right messages about you, your products, and your services.
Such a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis might help you begin this process and should focus on several factors.
For example, identify your Unique Selling Point (USP) and make it the main point differentiating your offering from that of your competitors.
Your USP will also help your potential customers know what makes your brand unique in comparison with your competitors.
Being able to help potential customers to appreciate the unique qualities of your brand will go a long way in converting them into customers and brand advocates.
Ask yourself whether your offer is in a growth sector, whether future demand will increase, remain stable or decrease and about the competition — What do your competitors supply?
Think in terms of the specialist skills, knowledge and capability that you have, or what you could do to challenge the existing market leaders. Can you offer superior services or products for the same or slightly more money?
It is now relatively cost-effective to develop a website to promote your company. A site can be an effective way of raising your profile and publicising your services. It doesn’t have to be a complicated or expensive process. But since we now generate much business via the Internet, it is a channel that you should not ignore.
Even if you have a tiny budget, try to get a website also if you to build it yourself to start. The strategic use of your site and social networks together can help to bring about a massive growth for your business.
Where appropriate, always ask your potential customers to leave testimonials and reviews about your brand online on websites like Yelp.
Have lots of positive reviews online about your brand will go a long way in boosting your marketing efforts.
Find Strategic Partnerships
It might also be helpful to strike up a partnership with more significant business, perhaps enabling you to use a desk in their offices once a week. By creating a symbiotic relationship with another company, you may then have access to more resources while they may enjoy your expertise.
Organise a Local Meetup Group
These days a lot of people rely on social media to keep in touch. While this is not entirely bad, it creates an opportunity for you to organise local meetup groups to meet in person from time to time.
You can use these local meetup groups as an opportunity to get to know and interact with your customer base.
Those in your customer base will also take advantage of it to get to know your brand better and hopefully become brand advocates.
If you have the opportunity, perhaps you could also organise local meetup groups. You can also attend local events that please to as they can prove valuable for networking and developing contacts.
Connect, Communicate, and Network
If possible, try talking to others working in your field to find out how they make the most of the infrastructure available in your country. By asking about their marketing strategies, you may learn new ways of implementing yours. Find out as much as you can about your customers as possible as this will put you in a stronger position to respond to their needs and compete.
Before you attempt to connect and network with people, make sure you have an elevator pitch on hand. So you are not at a loss for what to say when people ask you what you do.
Try to get public speaking gigs even if you have to do these for free in the initial stage. Public speaking gigs will help you get your name out there and establish you as an authority in your niche.
Digital marketing and social media marketing are here to stay. Therefore you need to take advantage of these to help you market your business on a shoestring budget.
At the very minimum, have a Facebook and Twitter account. Build a strong rapport with your audience on social media using video.
Quit automating your social media activities and start engaging with your followers instead. Get chatty on Twitter and Facebook.
Have an account on LinkedIn and post often. Join relevant LinkedIn groups that focus on your niche. It is critical to use LinkedIn as a platform to establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche.
Don’t forget to build your brand on Instagram by giving your followers a glimpse behind the scenes.
If you have a dedicated Facebook business page (it’s different from your regular Facebook profile), then don’t be afraid to ‘pay-to-play’ on Facebook.
While you’re at it, consider getting on the podcasting bandwagon while you can.
Have you launched a new product or service offering? Write a press release on press release sites. A press release will help to create a buzz around your brand.
Some credible press release sites will even publish your press release for free, helping you get some free publicity.
Building and nurturing professional relationships with journalists in your locality will go a long way in helping you build your reputation as a local expert in your niche.
These journalists will turn to you as the local expert when they need information and statistics about your niche to write their article.
If you’re one of the business owners in a competitive industry, then you should look to using guerrilla marketing and affiliate programs. Use them to drive potential customers to your website and drive conversions on your site.
A small business will always have bigger competitors, but this doesn’t mean you can’t compete successfully. Create your niche market by being able to offer a tailored service or unique product that exactly meets your customers’ needs.
Make special offers to your customer base to attract them to your brand. Your being small and having a shoestring budget means that you ensure that you get as many returns as possible for your marketing efforts.
Get on Google to research what questions people are asking about your brand, product, or service or industry. Try to provide answers to these questions.
You can even use these questions as a basis for forming your elevator pitch, so you are never at a loss for what to say when you meet a potential customer.
Encourage your customers to leave reviews and testimonials online about your brand on online review sites like Yelp, etc. Reviews will help to establish your brand on search engines like Google.
Your size potentially gives you much more flexibility to respond to your customers. You can build strong, personal relationships and spend more time working with them.
Base your marketing decisions on accurate information about your costs, keep a careful eye on your product mix, and stick to your business plan.
This way, you stand a good chance of success. Try not to fall into the trap of attempting to compete on price alone and remember that, while profit requires sales, sales don’t mean profit.
What’s your best small business marketing idea? Let me know in the comment section below.
Do you need help in marketing your small business on a shoestring budget? Contact me; I’ll be glad to assist you!
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Last Updated: March 2019