Operating on a shoestring budget with ambitions as grand as the Château de Versailles can leave your business lacking in many areas. Marketing should not be one of those areas. There are simply too many ways to stretch your purse these days in order to cover marketing costs without scaling back in effectiveness. Three such areas, budgets, blogs, and branding, can take your business to the next level while keeping your bottom line in line. Whether you are interested in expanding into the realm of blog writing or you prefer to take the more corporate approach of branding, the realm of marketing on a shoestring is waiting for you.
Butt End of Budgets
A budget is one of the most important parts of your business plan. Have you accounted appropriately for marketing costs in your budget? If not, stop right now and do so. Start by considering what your business is currently doing in terms of marketing. Look at the current approach, and determine where you want to see your business in the next 3 to 6 months. How can you update your marketing approach to make your goals happen? Reevaluate your budget to account for projected marketing costs, so that you aren’t caught up in the marketing moment of bright lights and flashy sass. Ways you can make the most of your marketing budget buck include:
- Making free 30 second videos via Animoto
- Writing press releases and sending them out to major news sites, blogs, and corporate pages; if you are skilled in writing, you can do this for next to nothing.
- Utilizing social media platforms
A word of advice about social media, which offers seemingly unlimited avenues for online marketing: all it costs to set up a Facebook page, Twitter account, Pinterest board, or the like is your precious time, which equals money. Consider how much time you plan to spend on your marketing endeavors and make sure this is accounted for in your marketing budget.
Blog It, Baby!
Get out there and read the blogs of your biggest competitors. Scout out the blogs that receive the greatest number of comments, preferably in a positive light, and become a moth to a flame. Absorb everything you can about the best blogs in your industry and use this information to make your own business blog even better. Then, go to those blogs that are at the top of your competitors’ list and offer to guest blog for them. Go a step further and ask if they will blog for your blog. The more opportunities you have to get your business name and contact information on the web, the better. Plus, guest blogging is a cheap, often free, way to create valuable content for your blog and about your business. Additionally, you want these opportunities to be splashed in the face of customers already searching for content or services in your industry.
For a brand, you need to start with a business name and coordinating logo. Ways to determine the best name and logo for a business can include:
- Focus groups used to research and narrow down ideas
- Surveys, online and in paper form
- Consultations with team members and colleagues
- Contests in which images and names are suggested by customers
At this point, you can remain as tight as a shoestring budget wise without compromising your brand integrity. After you have selected your brand, you can go a step further to have it trademarked, but this costs several hundred dollars and is a lengthy process. In the meantime, you can start using your brand image to create a marketing campaign that is all your own. Splay your brand on everything from your social media profiles to business cards to get the most out of this visual connection. In addition to making your business look infinitively more professional, you give your image a boost of self confidence.
Like they say, fake it until you make it.
Miranda B may be a freelance writer, but nine times out of 10 she spends her time perfecting marketing magic for her online clients.