I was recently having a chat with a business owner. She admitted that she finds marketing a bit of a catch-22. She needs to put marketing activities in place to find customers, but until she gets more customers she can’t afford to do the marketing.
Have you ever felt this? In America they call it ‘bootstrapping’ (not sure why). It means gradually pulling your business up to a functioning level by spending the minimum amount to make a bit, spending a bit more to make a bit more, etc, etc.
If you are in this situation, here are our recommendations for keeping costs as low as possible.
1. Read everything you can, but stick to one or two guides.
There are bucket-loads of free marketing resources available on the internet. I guess, by default, marketing experts tend to be good at writing and know that this is a good option for marketing themselves. It can be very confusing and overwhelming to follow multiple people and try to do what they ALL suggest. You’ll find yourself chopping, changing and alternating between expert opinions, and wasting money by trying to do lots of different things. This will stop you from developing a consistent approach to marketing (and this is THE key thing to get it right. Find out why here.
How about choosing one or two ‘guides’ in for each area of marketing and following their approaches consistently? Maybe select one expert for general marketing, one for online marketing (I like Amy Porterfield for this) and one for social media, etc.
Once you have chosen your guides, read everything you can that they’ve written and try to get to grips with the basics. When you are following someone else’s recipe you can be more confident that you are investing money in something that’s likely to work.
2. Know your customer and know which problems they want you to solve for them.
Until you know this information inside out, you cannot get a return on any investment that you make in marketing. And you can do this research for free, quite easily. There’s a post about that here.
‘My target customer is literally anyone!’ you might be saying, but we disagree. Not everyone will like you, your service or your style. And, you can only sell consistently when you are targetting a specific type of person. When you have a clear picture of who is your most likely customer, and you know where this type of person is most likely to be hanging out and how they consume information – and hence, how they are most likely to find about the existence of you, you are going to be able to be in the right place at the right time. By identifying their likes, dislikes, habits and routines before you start making any marketing investments you’ll generate enough insight to make sound decisions about choosing the most effective locations for advertising, the other businesses that you could partner with, etc. Getting the locations of your marketing right will allow you to access your ideal customers for the smallest amount of money.
3. Choose one or two marketing activities, do them well and do them consistently.
For example, if you choose to attract an audience by doing adverts in a local paper, it’s going to cost money. You need to make sure you get the best bang for your buck, so instead of scrimping on the cost of design, get them done by a professional, then reuse, reuse. Make sure that you aren’t wasting your money by using a messaging checklist to ensure that all the vital facts, a call to action, and social proof is included in the advert. Ensure that you are addressing how you are solving the key problem for your target customers in the copy. Above all else, make sure that your ideal customer reads the publication you’ve chosen and allow a budget that includes advertising over a consistently long period of time, rather than just once. This sort of investment is part of your business set up and should be covered by what you are planning to charge your customers.
4. Give social media a go.
Apart from the cost of your time, having a great social media feed is free and can help to build brand awareness and develop relationships with prospects.
Strategy here is crucial. (If you are a Sussex local, why not come along to one of our workshops for help with this?) Make sure that you are on the right platforms, and get clear on your objective for this medium. What, precisely, are you trying to achieve? In most instances, as a new business you should be looking to drive traffic to a webpage where you also advertise your services, so make sure that a proportion of your content is set up to achieve that purpose. Mix this content in with other items so it’s not all ‘me, me, me’ on your feed. Your objective should be to stimulate interest in you and your product, while educating, engaging and entertaining your audience.
5. Go old school
Digital marketing works, (for the right business) but it can be complex and expensive. It’s not the only option available for marketing. Traditional marketing has gone out of fashion, but it’s still highly effective, as long as it’s targeted. It may be controversial, but we still rely heavily on the old fashioned approaches to marketing: handing out flyers at the local station, using a sandwich board, placing an advert, creating or buying a mailing list and sending something by post, distributing flyers door to door, doing a deal with a relevant third party to promote your content, networking, hosting a seminar or event, having a stand at a trade show. All of these are still viable options for marketing your business and don’t have to be expensive.
For more help with this, why not book us for a Powerhour? We can run through our healthy marketing checklist with you and help you to identify which marketing activities would work best and be most cost effective for your business. Drop us an email to get booked in: firstname.lastname@example.org