We live in a very fortunate time where there are hundreds of people trying to come up with solutions to every day problems, or enhancements to human life. You only have to go onto the Apple app store to see how new technology can help you live a better, more productive, more focused life. This can mean two things for you and your business; there is a solution that will help you manage your business more effectively (I’m thinking of Xero as an example here) - which is good, right! Secondly, it means that there are literally hundreds of people that you may be competing with for the attention of your target audience. Not so good. Marketing then becomes your weapon of choice, but how much marketing can your business afford? If budget is a concern, let me outline marketing tips to market yourself without too much investment and ultimately save money on your marketing.
Traditionally, the marketing budget was first to go in times of financial stress, however that should no longer be the case because ultimately it may hurt your business in the long term. What you can do is invest your time in building a marketing strategy to identify the best ways to connect with your customer and then prioritise the smaller amount of resources you have on those activities that will get you the greatest return.
A good marketing strategy really gets to the heart of your business and can help you gain clarity on what you’re trying to achieve, your vision of your future, and who’s going to help you get there, your target audience. You can also assess your place in the market, how you are different from your competition and what you give to customers that they can’t get anywhere else. This helps you to develop a really strong message to communicate to your potential customers. Knowing your target customers, their behaviours, habits, where they hang out, and their journey to choosing your product or service helps you identify the channels in which you can communicate to them. You can then prioritise where to spend your efforts based on the channels you have identified. At this stage, you still don’t even need a website – although it helps, but I’ll come to that shortly.
However, building a strategy takes time. The best strategies have been created through a number of sessions with input from other people, whether that’s other team members or external partners. Devising a strategy will save you money. You’ll know what you should be saying/communicating, to who you should be communicating and where you should communicate to them. It means you won’t spend unnecessary time and resources into channels that don’t work – because the people that want what you have aren’t there. It also means that you know exactly what your customers want when they get to that channel. It is worthy of your time investment.
Once you’ve developed your strategy you get to decide where to put your resources, and here we come back to the beauty of our modern world. There are a number of technology solutions to help you do what you need for little or no cost. Inevitably, in creating your customer’s journey to you, you would have identified that they may search for something in Google, or look up your business name. We can then assume that in order to reach our customers we need to have a web presence, and that costs money, right? Not so, your business can exist on the internet without spending any money. You can create a Facebook page for instance, you can create a free website with services like Wix or Squarespace, you can create a blog with Wordpress. However, how do you ensure that they are effective? Because you have a strategy! In creating your strategy you know exactly what a customer is looking for, even before they reach your website. You can ensure you have included keywords that have answered their questions on your free website, ensure you are answering the questions your customers have on your Facebook page. Add in some extra value content and material relevant to your industry and they will love you for it.
This is just one possible channel; there are many, and many ways to do things without spending any money. The trick is to do your strategy first, then get creative. Come up with innovative ways to reach your customers for little money.
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by Samantha Hurley
Written by Samantha Hurley
Sam co-founded Marketing Entourage after spending 18 years in senior sales & marketing positions for companies such as Lonely Planet and The Press Association in Melbourne, New York and London. Sam started out in a design agency and used design thinking to help develop a product that went on to revolutionise the media industry in 2002. Sam also teaches Digital Marketing and Data Driven Marketing at General Assembly. The daughter of an engineer and a designer, she learned to code and design at a young age. She feels she has the mind of a scientist and the heart of an artist and likes to sit in the space where creativity, technology and business converge.