Marketing costs time and money, and this can be a big problem for start-ups with little or no income. Thankfully, due to the disruptive qualities of a wide range of more cost-efficient online marketing channels available to today’s entrepreneurs, this balance of “investment” can be tipped in your favor. To put it simply, if you don’t have the money, you’ll just have to invest more time.
A Nice Problem
While a large marketing budget might seem like a nice problem to have, it can make marketers more complacent. Throwing money at a problem is not always the best solution and may be a very inefficient method of generating leads and driving sales. Marketers should never forget the tricks of the trade they learned when money wasn’t so easy to come by.
If I was starting out again in the world of marketing (and as I speak to small and medium-sized businesses every day who face the challenge of managing very tight budgets, I guess I have to adopt this mindset) these are the five strategies I would adopt.
Five Pre-Income Marketing Strategies
- Blog: Your corporate blog is the center point from which you hang all of your other marketing strategies. It’s a great starting point for what will eventually turn into a wider search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. It will help you generate traffic to drive email subscriptions and provide content to fuel your social media activities. It will also provide a suitable venue to host videos, podcasts, eBooks and any other content marketing collateral you produce in the future. WordPress, the world’s most popular blogging software, is available for free, and a budget of just a couple hundred dollars will provide you with all the hosting and design templates you need to get started. If you cannot find a couple hundred dollars, there are a number of totally free solutions available, such as Google’s Blogger platform (although these have limitations when compared to the more flexible and powerful WordPress and should be upgraded whenever possible).
- Email Marketing: This is still the most cost-efficient and profitable method of building long-term relationships with your prospects and customers. You can start building your email lists out today by offering a detailed piece of “thought leadership” content in the form of a PDF via your blog. Once you have captured your subscribers’ details, follow up with more great content, and then, after offering incredible value, hit them with an offer. Think jab, jab, punch instead of sell, sell, sell. A budget of just $11.90 per month can get you started with email marketing at iContact, and this gives you access to our award-winning customer support team as well as our software.
- Social Media: After you have deployed your blog and email, social media is a great place to start engaging your prospects in conversations about your products, services or wider brand. It’s always a good idea to have your own content to share via social media, so don’t be tempted to skip the blog and dive straight in. Those who do often find themselves pouring fuel on other people’s thought leadership — and this is not a good idea. It should be remembered that while many social channels provide a free platform to post content, their algorithms often require a little budget to drive views and engagement. The good news is, on a platform like Facebook, even a tiny budget (try $10) can go a long way.
- Podcasts: People buy from people they like and trust. A great way to get people to like and trust you is speaking to them. A podcast is a great way to communicate with your prospects and customers when they are busy doing something else. People listen to podcasts while they are driving, at the gym, walking their dogs, etc. Podcasting is easy. All you need is a half-decent microphone, a quiet space to record and an idea to communicate. Check out this great guide to why you should fall in love with podcasting.
- YouTube: Never underestimate the power of YouTube. It is the world’s second-busiest search engine, giving you the opportunity to reach hundreds, thousands or even millions of viewers (depending on the size of the niche you serve) via the TV studio nearly everyone now possesses in the form of their smartphone. As with many forms of marketing, persistence is the key to success on YouTube. Don’t worry if your first attempts at video are a little shaky; YouTube is often more about the authenticity of your message than the production values.
Don’t let lack of budget hamper your marketing efforts. With a lot of thought and only a little budget, you can go a long way in getting your message heard. How did you reach your audience before you were blessed with a marketing budget? Share your comments below:
This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.