Marketing on a budget
Marketing on a budget
When you are starting out in business and no one knows who you are, one of the greatest challenges you will face is how to drum up new business.
Even if you’re on a tight budget, there are some great tactics out there to get your business known; here are a few tips to get you started.
And if you have a tactic we’ve not mentioned here, please share it with us in the comments.
A mailing list
If you’re just starting out then from day one you should be thinking about keeping records so start a database, even if it’s a simple spreadsheet, you need to keep track of all customers and enquiries. Your mailing list is one of your most effective marketing tools and it’s all free so look after it.
If you have previous customers then you’ll have their details, so keep in touch with them – let them know what you’re up to, what new offers you have, new products that would appeal to them, ask them for a testimonial, give them an opportunity to win a product. Business success is all about building relationships so make sure your customers know who you are, and that they like you.
Friends and family
We all have our own small network of friends and family, make sure they know what you and your business offers. By telling as many people as you can about what you do increases the chance of those people referring your business to people in their own networks. Facebook is an awesome way to do this but also think about organising a presentation at your playgroup or local clinic, talk to other mums at school – mums talk; we like to help each other, so build your own network of friends and family then tap into the networks of theirs. Who knows what doors it could open for you.
Note: there’s a fine line between networking and spamming – don’t annoy your friends.
Become a walking advert
Wear a promotional t-shirt, carry shopping bags with your logo, have a sign in the back window of your car, magnetic stickers for the doors on your car, get some flyers printed and hand them out at playgroup, to your friends, leave them in libraries and local shops. These are all cost effective ways to get your name out there with a minimum outlay.
You need to network as much as possible, who is your target market? Who buys your product or service? And where can you find them? Many mum owned businesses sell products aimed at mums.
As mums, we know what we want to buy so when in the role as the customer we are able to identify gaps in markets. How many times have you said ‘I could do with a …’? There are hundreds of parenting forums and groups out there, join some and get involved with the community. You’ll also make new friends along the way!
Meet your media
Whilst you’re doing all of the above, you need to come up with some creative solutions for meeting your advertising needs whilst keeping to the (possibly) non-existent budget:
The next database you will need is to help you keep in contact with your media, and press releases are a great way to generate news about your business. The editor of your local newspaper, will always be looking for news of general interest, so if your business has an angle with community interest then write about it and send it off. Remember the important thing about a press release is that it must be written in the form of a news story – don’t fall into the trap of writing sales copy, because it simply will not get printed and you’ll have wasted your time and ruined a potential relationship with a new media.
You need a story that readers will actually want to read. Have a punchy heading and first paragraph which flows into the main details. Put in relevant quotes about the news from yourself and get your business name and website address quoted. Ensure you provide the reporter with your contact information, written clearly so that they can contact you easily for more information as they may want additional details to enhance the article.
Build a database of media contacts, start with your local papers; build relationships with journalists and editors, then move on to the nationals! Media Alerts are a great way to build contacts.
Feedback & research
When you do go for some advertising, take it step by step. Don’t rush into a massive campaign taking up all your funds. Go slowly, one medium at a time to test the success of each small campaign you do. Add promotional codes for each advert you place so you know where your leads are coming from. Then you’ll know where to concentrate for advertising in the future.
The same goes for your website, get hit counter software and Google Analytics, web design and hosting providers including MumsClub hosting provide lots of free software including a stat counter to help you keep track of how your website visitors have found you.
You can also ask your customers and site visitors how they found you, such information isn’t always reliable but it will also give you an idea.
When you have researched your advertising tactics you’ll have the confidence to invest more, by which time the smaller campaigns you’ve been working on will be paying off. Think about timing your advertising though, think about the time of year, what’s going on? When is your product or service going to sell best/worst. Plan your campaign strategically around these times.
You don’t have to spend a lot to promote your business. When you’re just starting out, every penny counts so you must spend those pennies wisely. Don’t make the mistake of blaming your business idea if something doesn’t work, take a harder look at the decisions you’ve made instead. Business planning is important at this stage; you need to know where you’re heading so invest some time into writing your plans down.