Sponsored by VISA Business:
Contrary to popular opinion, small business marketing doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With a bit of marketing savvy, you can promote your business without dipping too deeply into your marketing budget or your small business credit line.
The following 10 creative ideas for small business marketing on a shoestring budget can really work if you’re willing to invest a bit of effort and time:
1. Develop partnerships.
Seek out businesses in your community that are complementary to yours and ask the owners if they’d be interested in pooling resources for a marketing campaign. For example, share the costs of ad space, direct mail, or booth space at a trade show. Get creative!
2. Seek media opportunities.
Sign up for sites like HARO, ProfNet and SourceBottle and become an expert source for journalists who need quotes and insights about your industry and business for their online and offline articles. It’s free publicity!
3. Start a blog.
If you haven’t already started a blog as part of your small business website, then you need to do it now. Not only is a blog the perfect core branded destination for all of your online activities, but it’s also your place on the web that you control. Blogs are incredibly search engine-friendly, too. Where do people look for information about businesses and products they need these days? They go to Google or their preferred search engine. Writing frequent, high quality blog posts is a great way to build your online reputation and increase search traffic to your website. If you’re new to blogging, read “Blogging All-in-One for Dummies” and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to WordPress” to get started.
4. Pursue guest blogging.
By writing guest blog posts for other blogs where your target audience already spends time, you can get exposure to more consumers and generate quality backlinks to your business website. Those backlinks are great for increasing your search engine traffic because search algorithms assume that a site with backlinks from quality sites is providing useful, reliable information. In other words, guest blogging gives you more exposure now and in the future.
5. Leverage content marketing.
Publish your high quality articles, presentations, videos, and so on both online and offline to build your reputation and drive word-of-mouth marketing. Read “Content Marketing for Dummies” to learn all of the basics and more.
Social media marketing can seem overwhelming, but you really can make a measurable impact on your business growth even if you just spend a handful of minutes publishing content, sharing content, and interacting with people on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and/or other social media sites. Read “30-Minute Social Media Marketing” to learn how to jumpstart your social media marketing plan without investing a huge amount of time or money.
7. Try public speaking.
Seek out speaking opportunities at industry events, local universities, associations, and other organizations that could benefit from learning from you. Every speaking event is an opportunity to network, build relationships, and drive word-of-mouth marketing that can lead to future sales.
8. Use crowdsourcing.
Don’t spend massive amounts of money on services you can get at a fraction of the cost unless you have a sizable budget. If you’re marketing your business on a shoestring budget, there are many design and writing tasks that you can get help with by leveraging crowdsourcing. Visit sites like CrowdSpring, 99Designs, and SloganSlingers to crowdsource the design of your next logo, marketing materials, slogan, and so on.
9. Work with freelancers.
There are thousands of amazing freelancers available to help you with a myriad of marketing projects. From designers and writers to analysts and developers, you can find an affordable and experienced freelancer thanks to sites like Elance and Guru. You can also join groups for freelancers on LinkedIn and follow freelancers on Twitter to source experts who can help you with your marketing projects without paying the high prices a full-service agency would charge.
10. Get involved in your community.
One of the best and most affordable local marketing initiatives is simply being more visible within your community. Participate in volunteer efforts, sponsor events or sports teams, and attend events where you can network and build relationships with local consumers. Every interaction is a marketing opportunity, but you can’t leverage those opportunities if you never get out in your community and talk to people.
I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.