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How to Market Your Small Business on a Budget

How to Market Your Small Business on a Budget

Running a small business can be extremely rewarding. You get to be your boss, pursue your passions, and directly see the fruits of your labour. However, with the rewards also come risks and challenges. One of the biggest hurdles small business owners face is figuring out how to market their company with a limited budget.

Effective marketing is essential for getting your product or service in front of potential new customers. Without it, you likely won’t attract much attention or grow your revenue streams. The good news is there are many affordable ways to market your small business on a budget if you get creative.

Define Your Target Customer

Before developing a marketing strategy, you must understand who you're trying to reach. Identify the target customer for your product or service by asking yourself questions like:

  • What problem does my business solve?
  • Who needs this type of solution?
  • What are their hopes, dreams, and fears?
  • Where do they spend their time?
  • What publications or websites do they frequent?

Get clear on the ideal buyer persona for your small business. This will allow you to craft compelling and relevant messaging when executing your campaigns.

Set Marketing Goals and KPIs

Once you’ve defined your target customer, the next step is to establish goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) to track the success of your marketing initiatives.

Some examples of potential marketing goals include:

  • Increase website traffic by 25% year-over-year
  • Grow email subscriber list to 1,000 contacts
  • Generate 50 new customer inquiries per month
  • Increase social media followers by 15%

Decide what metrics are most important for your small business to benchmark performance. These will guide your strategy and help you determine what’s working.

Website and SEO

What Is Seo Siloing Definition

Your company website is often the first touchpoint between your small business and potential new customers. That's why an informative, easy-to-navigate site is essential for effective marketing.

Useful Website Must-Haves

  • Compelling copy: Clearly explains what you do and sells the benefits
  • Call-to-actions: Encourages visitors to convert (e.g. get a quote, sign up for a demo)
  • Lead capture forms: Allow visitors to subscribe to updates
  • Blog: Provides helpful content that engages visitors
  • Testimonials: Builds credibility by highlighting customer success
  • Contact info: Make it easy for visitors to get in touch
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SEO Essentials

SEO (search engine optimisation) helps boost organic visibility in search engines like Google so more people can find your website for relevant queries. Key areas to focus your SEO efforts include:

  • Page titles and meta descriptions: Help search engines understand each page's topic
  • Keywords: Strategically used throughout content to indicate relevancy
  • Alt text for images: Helps images show up in image search results
  • Backlinks: External websites linking back to your site signal authority and trust
  • Site speed: Faster load times improve visitor experience and SEO ranking factors

Build Referral Partnerships

Identify complementary businesses you can collaborate with to cross-promote each others' services or products. Referral partners are a great way to amplify awareness organically. For example, an interior designer could partner with a home stager.

Content Creation

Consistently publishing fresh, high-quality content is one of the best things you can do to boost your small business's visibility online. Helpful, informative content helps you:

  • Attract visitors from search engines
  • Demonstrate expertise in your niche
  • Convert leads into customers
  • Engage your current customer base

Blogging

Commit to blogging often on your website on themes related to your industry. Make it a priority to publish long-form, in-depth blog content regularly. Blogs allow you to reach potential customers during earlier awareness-building stages. Include relevant keywords throughout your posts and promote your content on social media to drive website traffic.

Visual Content

People process visual information 60,000 times faster than text. Take advantage of this by frequently publishing engaging photos, videos, infographics, and graphics. Visual assets allow you to expand your reach and convey critical information at a glance. Ensure to include captions and hashtags when sharing on social platforms.

Smart Distribution

To extend the impact of your content, reuse it in a variety of formats and share it across multiple channels:

  • Convert blog posts into video summaries or podcast episodes
  • Extract key stats for an infographic
  • Repurpose sections into smaller social posts

Find ways to give your content new life to reach wider audiences.

Email Marketing

Email Newsletter Design

Email is still one of the most effective digital marketing channels for connecting with customers. Leverage email marketing to build relationships, nurture leads, and promote products or services.

List Building

Focus first on growing your subscriber list by offering an irresistible lead magnet (like an eBook, coupon, or online workshop) in exchange for email signups. Include opt-in forms and CTAs throughout your website. Slowly build up your list of contacts you can market to directly.

Valuable Content

If you consistently deliver value, people are likelier to open and engage with your emails. Send a regular cadence of helpful tips, exclusive offers, product updates, curated industry articles, company newsletters, and more.

Automation

Marketing automation allows you to craft targeted email sequences that engage each subscriber based on interests and activity. Automatically send customised follow-ups to leads, onboarding messages for new customers, or notifications about related products to existing ones.

Analytics

Attention to crucial email metrics like open rate, click-through rate, and unsubscribe rate. Review the analytics to continuously improve your email content and sending strategy.

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Social Media Marketing

Promoting your business on major social media platforms is mandatory to compete today. Developing a social media marketing plan doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start by focusing on just one or two networks that align closest with your target audience.

Network Overview

PlatformMonthly Active UsersBest For
Facebook3.0 billionBroad reach, group engagement
Instagram2.4 billionImagery, behind-the-scenes content
LinkedIn310 millionProfessional networks and B2B
Twitter368 millionNews, conversations, connections
Pinterest482 millionVisual discovery and inspiration
YouTube2.7 billionEducational how-to videos

Valuable Social Content

The key is focusing less on promotional content and more on publishing applicable, engaging content.

✔ Educational tips or DIY tricks

✔ Entertaining or inspirational videos

✔ Polls and interactive questions

✔ User-generated content featuring customers

✔ Industry news updates or trend reports

✔ Spotlights on employees or company culture

✔ Coupons, giveaways, or exclusive offers

Optimising Your Profiles

Make sure you fully complete each social media profile with important company information. Highlight your branding, products/services, contact info, website URL, locations, etc. Use relevant hashtags in descriptions to tap into more extensive conversations.

Engaging Followers

Social media is meant for relationship building, so respond actively to followers. Ask engaging questions in posts to spark dialogue. Also, engage with your supporters by liking posts and providing thoughtful comments.

Leveraging Local Resources

Local Business Partnerships

Extend your reach and connect more meaningfully with local customers by tapping into neighbourhood small business support systems.

Small Business Associations

Joining your regional small business association provides a built-in network for cross-promotion. You also gain access to valuable expert insights through membership workshops and events. Relevant groups to consider include:

  • Chamber of Commerce chapters
  • Local/city industry associations
  • Regional business partnership networks
  • Business incubator communities
  • University alum entrepreneur programs
  • SBA Regional Innovation Clusters

Local Advertising

Local advertising can effectively capture the attention of nearby potential shoppers. Some affordable tactics to test:

  • Partnering with complementary neighbourhood businesses to offer package deals or host a joint sale event
  • Sponsoring discounts or giveaways to promote your business to residents in sponsored email newsletters or apps
  • Exploring pro bono services or affordable ad placements in community newspapers/magazines
  • Negotiating an underwriting sponsorship for public radio spots
  • Volunteering expertise at library workshops in exchange for event promotion

The benefit of community-focused advertising is hyper-targeted exposure to your backyard consumer base. Even a tiny response rate yields high-quality leads due to relevancy.

Craft Your Brand Story

Consumers increasingly make purchasing decisions based on whether a company’s mission and values align with theirs. That’s why having a straightforward brand story highlighting your “why” is critical for appealing to today’s selective buyers.

While facts and stats are important, your background, motivations, and convictions ultimately forge an emotional connection with your audience to foster brand loyalty.

Brand Story Elements

Key components to feature prominently across your website and other marketing materials:

  • Founding story/spark of inspiration
  • Personal touches and team photos
  • Passions, beliefs, and purpose
  • Local commitment or mission pillar
  • Customer success stories

Video Marketing

Video content is the perfect medium to bring your small business’s origins to life. Post professionally edited video overviews on website homepages, embed video clips into blog posts, or go live on social to offer behind-the-scenes facility tours.

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Short brand videos make memorable first impressions and boost engagement. The video also helps improve visibility and conversion rates. After watching branded videos, 65% of viewers are likelier to buy from that company.

Paid Advertising Strategies

What Is Display Advertising

While organic marketing techniques are cost-effective, devoting at least a small paid advertising budget unlocks essential scale. Think through how to allocate limited dollars across the top platforms best.

Social Media Ads

The precise audience targeting options available on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter provide outstanding advertising ROI. You can hyper-focus paid campaigns towards your ideal buyer personas using filters like geography, age, interests, behaviours and more to ensure relevancy.

Lean on the robust self-serve advertising platforms to A/B test what creative concepts, offers, and calls-to-action perform best at driving conversions with different segments. Maintain precise tracking to calculate the return on each social ad investment.

Google Ads

Search ads on Google deliver impressions precisely when users demonstrate initial interest with a relevant keyword query at the critical zero moment of intent. The premium cost reflects the high-quality lead volume driven by responding to immediate search intent.

Meanwhile, display network placements across partner websites allow you to reinforce messages after initial interest by retargeting relevant visitors from your website with ads to capture follow-up attention.

Utilise Google’s extensive reporting to monitor interactions post-click to understand better where visitors fall out of the sales funnel to improve conversion paths continually.

Retargeting Ads

Retargeting is a highly effective tactic for getting your brand back on the radar of prospects who previously visited but have yet to convert. Remarketing ads remind website visitors about products or services they viewed to nudge them towards purchasing.

You can even create custom audiences and tailor communication based on page history. For example, if someone visits pricing pages, serve ads focused on promotions or special offers as an incentive.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is one of the most powerful technologies for supercharging how you nurture leads, engage customers, and run more personalised multi-channel campaigns.

Key Benefits

  • Creates customised digital experiences through behavioural tracking
  • Automates repetitive promotional tasks to save workload
  • Identifies customer trends revealed across data
  • Quantifies campaign performance and sales impact

While marketing automation requires investment, the platforms maximise efficiency to bolster productivity and scale impact so small teams can achieve more. Even basic functionality can generate over 10x return on investment based on enhanced sales effectiveness.

Track What Resonates

Consistently analyse your marketing and sales data to find out what’s moving the needle with target audiences compared to what falls flat.

Metrics to Monitor

  • Traffic source driving most conversions
  • Highest ROI activity or offer
  • Email subject lines generating the most opens
  • Assets or channels showing engagement drop-offs

Use actionable insights pulled from analytics to double down on your small business’s most effective positioning. Then, refine or eliminate lower-performing areas. Continually testing and optimising your marketing mix based on performance is critical for resource-constrained small business owners.

FAQs to Market Your Small Business

What are some easy website updates I can make to support conversions?

Some quick ways to optimise onsite user experience include speeding up load times, adding more relevant keywords to page copy, simplifying navigation flows, featuring social proof elements like customer logos and testimonials, and testing different calls-to-action for improved click-through rates.

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What types of lead magnets are most enticing for subscribers?

Popular lead magnet offers in exchange for email sign-ups include free informational guides (e.g. ebooks, whitepapers), discounted service promotions, free trials for software or membership sites, valuable checklists or templates, curated industry resources, and special giveaways like free products, credits, or access to an exclusive workshop.

How much time should I devote to social media marketing weekly?

Aim for about 8-10 hours per week, focusing your efforts on just your top one or two social platforms. The time should be spent scanning for relevant conversations to engage with, responding to followers, creating original branded posts, repurposing existing blog/video content into new formats, and monitoring campaign analytics.

What should my email send frequency be?

Industry best practice is to send 5-10 emails per month at regular intervals that subscribers can come to expect in their inboxes. Sending too infrequently fails to nurture follower relationships, while overly frequent messages will likely annoy recipients or cause unsubscribes.

What reasonable starting budget should I expect to spend on digital ads?

Allocate approximately 10% of your estimated annual revenue towards testing paid social media and Google search/display ads as a starting point. So, for example, if you anticipate $100K in overall annual sales, dedicate ~$10K towards advertising split across the platforms where your buyers spend time. Continually optimise towards positive ROI.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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