The pandemic has brought so much uncertainty to small business owners, not only in our backyard of South Central Pennsylvania but across the entire country. Many small business owners are fighting fiercely to hold on to their businesses. These businesses provide for not only their family members but generate payroll dollars that support their employees’ families and are vital to the local economy. Many business owners have put their efforts into strategies to retain existing customers and attract new prospects during this challenging time.
As small businesses struggle to stay afloat, there are little funds available to invest in growth and dedicate to marketing. To some companies, marketing may get tossed to the side. Other business owners and managers recognize that to remain in business during slow or challenging times, and there needs to be a consistent effort to bring in new business and retain existing business.
Investing time or dollars in marketing can have a tremendous impact on the bottom line of a small business. Organizations can execute effective marketing on a shoestring budget.
Here are Five Marketing Tips for a Shoestring Budget:
1. Maintain fresh content on your website.
Creating and maintaining an up to date website is very valuable.
Many businesses have utilized the complementary tools available from popular social media channels to spread the word about their business. Many of these recent startups have neglected to purchase a domain name and have a website created.
When was the last time you reviewed your website? Is the content accurate and up to date? Have you added or changed services this year?
Have you considered maintaining a blog that will allow you to be visible if a prospective customer searches for your services or products online? Maintaining a blog is a great way to build your brand and establish yourself as a trusted leader in your respective industry. Blogging is excellent for your SEO saving you valuable digital marketing dollars.
GoDaddy has inexpensive options for anything related to your website, from hosting and creating your website to purchasing a domain name.
2. Utilize a third-party email marketing service.
Does your organization collect customer or prospective email addresses? For some businesses, email marketing is an absolute must!
Whether you provide a product or service to a consumer or your avatar is business to business, this could be a straightforward way to stay in front of mind to existing customers and prospects.
Subscriptions to email marketing platforms such as Mail Chimp or Constant Contact are very inexpensive and allow you to schedule emails in advance and track the performance of your campaigns to measure results. Depending on the size of your list, you may be able to purchase a plan for as little as $19 per month, which could allow you to market on a shoestring budget.
Some ideas for email newsletters include providing valuable information about your business and spreading the word about upcoming promotions, sales, and events. You can also send out holiday cards on email!
3. Get “out” and network to make new connections to bring in new business.
While networking most definitely has a different look and feel in 2020, it is, in fact, still happening.
There are several sites in which you can network virtually, from MeetUp groups for specialized industries such as technology to popular applications for all sectors such as LinkedIn or Alignable.
LinkedIn has connected over 610 million members, with half of these users being active regularly!
While LinkedIn is not a new site, virtual coffee connections and networking via Zoom are relatively new and somewhat popular. Saving commuting time, this may be something that is here to stay!
Those in the Harrisburg, PA region may want to consider participating in popular Facebook Groups such as the group, “Central PA Supports Small Business.” One can make new connections and create and receive referrals by actively engaging. This group has over 9,000 local business persons that have joined the group.
LinkedIn, Zoom, and Facebook are all complimentary sites. Each of these sites offers the opportunity to purchase upgrades that may be of value.
On LinkedIn, a paid account may allow you to explore who has viewed your profile, provide opportunities to inbox prospects, and other services to help you develop relationships.
Zoom’s paid version allows for more time and more individuals to the network simultaneously.
Whichever method you choose during a time in which social distancing has become necessary, commit to putting time on your calendar to develop new connections and foster existing relationships.
4. Send greeting cards to existing customers and market to prospects.
Sending a card at the holidays is something many organizations do to show appreciation to their customers.
One does not need to wait until November or December to begin showing customer appreciation.
Businesses may consider sending birthday cards with a special offer or promotion. Thank you notes are a great way to express gratitude for a purchase or referral. Non-traditional holiday cards are a great way to stand out from your competition.
Working with a local printer or marketing firm, your organization could explore developing branded cards to keep on file.
There may be postage savings in doing a mass mailing as well as the time savings in outsourcing this service to a local printer that specializes in direct mail marketing.
5. Create a referral program to bring in new business.
Utilizing either your employees and their network or your existing clients and their network, your organization could benefit greatly by creating a rewards program.
Some organizations call this a VIP or Loyalty Program. Your organization may not need to invest in a sophisticated program but rather provide a reward, which could be anything from a discount off your products or services, a slick branded gift, or even tickets to an upcoming event.
While there are marketing firms that specialize in rewards via key fabs or mobile apps, depending on your industry, something fundamental could yield sizable returns.
Creating an informal program could be as simple as updating your marketing materials to include a tag line displaying that your enterprise is appreciative of referrals or that your organization is accepting new business.
Businesses operating on a shoestring budget can generate leads by rewarding individuals providing referrals that contribute to the growth of your business.
Some other ways to market on a shoestring budget include:
- Subscribing to HARO to network with reporters
- Creating an event to promote your organization, even if this is a FREE webinar
- Handing out promotional items including business cards, pens, hand sanitizer, or cups
- Co-market with a similar organization to expand your reach, providing connections to both organizations
- Get active on social media and participate in “Groups.” Comment on a prospect’s post!
Even if your marketing budget is limited, there are endless strategies to engage with your customers and prospects.
While Covid-19 has been so very challenging for small businesses, it is vital to think outside of the box and discover different ways to share the word about your organization. Together we will get through this tough time!
PaySmart is a payroll provider located in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, supporting small businesses in the Central PA region. We are dedicated to helping small businesses take care of their payroll needs. To learn more information about how PaySmart may provide payroll solutions, please contact 717-766-1777. Our New Client Concierge is waiting for you!