How to market your business on a budget

Monday 8 April 2013

Business meeting

In difficult economic times, with businesses looking to keep costs under control, the marketing budget may be one of the first to come under pressure. Businesses may look to reduce spending by investing less in advertising, but this can quickly prove to be a false economy.

Relying on existing customers to continue buying goods and services is a somewhat risky strategy - it can lead to falling revenue. The only way companies can experience strong, sustainable growth is to tell the world about their offering and maintain a high public profile.

Fortunately, there are ways this can be achieved without breaking the bank. Some marketing channels have the potential to deliver a strong return on investment from a relatively low cost base, providing companies get their messaging right.

Taking advantage of online marketing

If businesses are seeking low cost, accountable marketing, they may need to look beyond the traditional broadcast and print media outlets. Increasingly, firms are turning to the internet to promote their products and services.

Setting up a website and publishing original content is a straightforward way of engaging with consumers. The use of search engine optimisation techniques can help your site get noticed when web users look for goods and services online. The website effectively serves as a shop window for online consumers - firms which make an effort with their homepage stand a greater chance of drawing customers in.

Registering company profiles on social media is another way businesses can market their brands on a budget. Firms should consider the type of audience they are targeting - are prospective customers more likely to be Facebook or LinkedIn users? And will they be interested in following a Twitter feed? Social media tends not to be used for direct selling, but in the digital age, it is proving to be one of the most popular ways of connecting with consumers. If firms are able to attract their trust, there is more chance of gaining their custom.

Writing a blog is another affordable option - this can help position business leaders as thought leaders in their industry. If a consumer is interested in reading a blog written by a businessperson, they may well be interested in learning more about their company and services. Blogs can be used in conjunction with social media, helping to build a stronger online profile and gain followers.

Offline advertising options

Good old-fashioned networking events still have plenty to offer businesses as they aim to raise awareness of their brands. Providing business leaders are selective over which they attend, these can be used to increase their company's profile with little or no investment required. Whether they are meeting with prospective partners or customers, the investment is time and energy - to sell your business - rather than money.

Exhibiting at trade shows and, where possible, addressing conferences can make help attract new customers.

While the lure of newspaper adverts may be dwindling - given falling circulation - businesses should also try to use the print media to their advantage. Drafting press releases on new products and services, company developments and internal studies can generate press coverage for businesses. This keeps the company in the spotlight, increasing the likelihood that consumers may check out their website or visit a store.

Posted by Jenny Arthur