Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

If you’re self-employed, like many small enterprises, you are unlikely to have an endless marketing budget. No one can down play the importance of marketing; however, it’s important to get the best value for the dollars you invest. Consider how you can market on a shoestring budget?

First off, implement some sort of system to track how new customers/clients are hearing about you (e.g., new client intake form). This will help you to calculate the return-on-investment for your marketing activities. Although a general increase is great, if you can’t track that back to a marketing initiative, you won’t have any way to know what’s working and what’s not.

Don’t continue with the same old marketing activities just because they’ve worked before. Instead, constantly evaluate what marketing activities are generating results. Revisit your marketing strategy on a regular basis (e.g., quarterly) and ask yourself what is the real benefit of what I’m doing.

Get creative with what you do have. Engage in marketing activities that have no “fees.” Gene Fairbrother, ShopTalk 800 Business Consultant, suggests joining social/networking groups, volunteering to speak to local groups, and writing articles and/or blogs; however, keep in mind that your time is money. If it takes 5 hours to write an article for free, this does actually cost the business. It’s 5 hours that you won’t have available to move other billable projects forward.

Create an attractive and clear online presence using social media, share tips and tricks with your customers/clients, and offer unique discounts or sales. Create a buzz and build your local presence by sponsoring a community event.

And lastly, be focused on maintaining the customers/clients you have already. Offer a referral program to encourage your existing customers/clients to spread the word about your company. Word-of-month is still a great way to grow your business.