Small-to-medium businesses (SMEs) and startups might face various challenges in order to stay in the black and maintain cash flow. Small businesses often have a tight marketing budget to work with, which makes promoting difficult. Additionally, marketing budgets can increase from time to time in a world of constant changes.
According to a CMO Survey, the marketing budget remained relatively consistent or increased since 2009 compared to the previous year. The largest increment in project marketing spending occurred shortly after the recession of the late 2000’s, and continues to fluctuate between 4 and 10 percent. In 2020, the survey indicated that marketing budgets were expected to grow by 7.6 percent, reflecting a slight dip in growth but remaining on an upward trajectory.
The continuous increase of marketing budget might pose a bigger challenge for SMEs and startups to compete against bigger companies. Especially startups, they usually are working with a shoestring budget and need to invest their money carefully. The good news is marketing does not always mean running a campaign with big cash. You can always run a campaign with a limited budget, even free – if you know the trick.
Here are some clever and profitable marketing strategy ideas for your business:
1. Set up an Email Newsletters
Email marketing is still on the hype and remains the best communication channel when it comes to connecting professionally. Survey showed every one dollar you spent on email marketing, you can reap at least 40 dollars. So, don’t miss this chance. Email is also great to turn regular visitors into loyal customers. For a greater chance of getting sign-ups, you can add incentives, such as a free ebook or a discount.
What’s the best about this marketing strategy is that there are loads of great free email marketing automation tools that keep you within budget. Some of the top free email marketing services you can consider are:
- MailerLite includes 1.000 subscribers, 12.000 emails p/m, and automation, landing pages and reports.
- MailChimp includes 2.000 subscribers, 10.000 emails p/m, reporting, list management, and mobile features.
- Sender includes 2.500 subscribers, 15.000 emails p/m, autoresponders and transactional emails, push notifications, and forms.
- Zoho includes 12.000 emails p/m, 2.000 contacts, A/B testing, and web store tracking and reports.
- Omisend includes 15.000 emails p/m, 500 subscribers, 3 forms/landing pages, segmentation, and website tracking.
Those are the best five picks. There is still plenty of email marketing service you can choose from which we will cover in the next article. Stay tuned!
See also: Why Should You Join Startup Communities?
2. Be active on social media
There are both paid and free campaigns on social media. While paid ones will give you more exposure, free options are not losing the place. As long as you syndicate content that will appeal to your target audience and share your original content, you will see how free social media marketing turns to be a gold mine.
The rule on social media marketing is that you should share posts regularly to get more exposure. Create and share authentic, original contents – and ensure the graphic (if you use any) is of the followers’ interest. Sharing content regularly can be time-consuming but free tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, Zoho Social, and TwitterDeck can save time and energy.
3. Create a press release
If you have something newsworthy to report, tell people about it by reaching out to publications. Pro tip to ensure your investment in a press release is generating real results, you should add an inbound link to your press release for a bit of link juice to boost your site’s SEO. Read here to know which media can give you startup press coverage.
4. Personal branding
Famous people will get more attention. More attention means better business development. Creating a personal brand works in a similar way to creating a corporate brand – but on an individual level. Once you get the exposure you want, you can use it to promote your product or service as a solution to problems that your audience is having. You will realise that it is easier to gain trust and loyalty when you directly speak to your audience.
5. Create a free Google My Business account
For local businesses especially, a Google Business Profile has become among the most effective free marketing strategies available. The free listing allows your business to show up on Google Maps and make it easier for your customers to find you. To create a Google Business Profile, you need to have verified ownership of your business which can be done through your Google My Business account.
6. Apply for business awards
All industries, including SMEs, startups, or mature companies, can apply and win business awards. The awards will usually provide a badge that you can use to boost your credibility and increase sales. If there are not any awards for your industry, you can host your own. This way, you can get more attention, exposure, and connection you need to scale your business.
7. Guerilla marketing
This is not a typical marketing strategy you will find out there but some SMEs or startups might have done this. Guerilla marketing emphasises creativity over budget. The strategy made is also cheap and easy. What you need to do is to find a popular place and make art that promotes your product or service.
Remember that guerilla marketing is for the brave because it requires creativity, a safe place, and you need to ensure the law is not against it. But most of all, this strategy is cheap but effective!
Read also: 7 Tips to Save Money as New Startups