Most start up businesses and many established small businesses have limited marketing budgets. But knowing that marketing is vital to grow your business, did you know there are ways you can market your business with minimal expense?

With digital marketing and social media now key marketing channels it is easier to be more targeted and create smart marketing campaigns that you can measure. If your marketing strategy and campaigns are implemented correctly, to the right people at the right time, you should see results and a great return on your investment.

Here are my top 12 ideas for marketing on a shoestring:

  1. Write a marketing plan – Do this yourself or get help from a marketing consultant. A  Marketing plan is a roadmap for your business. It outlines who your customers are and how you are going to get them to buy what you are selling. It also details business objectives and strategies on how you will achieve your goals. This plan will allow you to identify low cost initiatives and those that provide a good return on investment.
  2. Social media – A great opportunity to engage with your audience, social media is one of the most cost effective content marketing strategies. There are now over a billion users on facebook and over a 200 million accounts on twitter. If you are not using social media regularly to engage with your customers and potential customers you are potentially leaving money on the table. Try Buffer or Hootsuite which are great free tools to manage all of your social media accounts in one spot.
  3. Website –Obviously a website is crucial for all businesses, and they don’t  have to cost a fortune! We use WordPress for all of our websites and it is one of the best platforms around, as you can easily make updates yourself without having to pay a developer.  Make sure your page is engaging, easy to navigate and has a way to gather email addresses of your potential customers.
  4. Business Listings – Ensure you are listed on all free directories like true local, google maps, Yelp and other business listings related to your business. This will not only help your SEO but also help people find you easily!
  5. Build relationships with businesses with a similar target market and arrange contra deals or cross promotions with them. You can also link back to each others websites sites and content (which also helps with SEO)
  6. Word of mouth is generally one of the most common and successful sources of enquiry and sales. Get your friends to refer your business and/or offer referral incentives.
  7. Use free trials such as Google Adwords to get a feel for a particular advertising medium before  you spend the money. But remember to do your research first to get the most out of it!
  8. SEM –  Implement Search Engine Marketing, which is a paid search campaign (ie Google Adwords)   You can set your own budget and you only pay when people click your ad.
  9. SEO – Search engine optimization will get you listed higher on Google without paying for advertising. SEO is a technique which helps search engines find and rank your site higher than millions of others in response to a search query. This is one area it is best to get a specialist to assist with, but once again you can generally choose your package depending on your budget.
  10. Attend networking events – You can make some great contacts that may be interested in, or recommend your business. Keep an eye out for local events in your area.
  11. Reporting – use FREE tools to measure website traffic and success of campaigns such as Google Analytics  or Facebook insights.
  12. Finally – Develop your brand and stick to it. Ensure all customer touch-points have a consistent look and feel from the Facebook page to website to business cards to signage and brochures. It will make your brand easier to remember and more memorable.

As you can see there are loads of activities you can do with a small marketing budget. Let us know which ones have worked for you!