3 Low-Budget Marketing Strategies for small businesses

Are you up against competition that has deep pockets and can outspend you using a combination of online & traditional advertising methods? Does it seem like a losing battle to go head-to-head with them to get new prospects? Particularly for start-up companies, using traditional advertising and marketing methods can get expensive…especially if you’re up against an established company with more money than you.

This is why you need to use marketing channels that will bring the attention and customers you need without breaking the bank. Fortunately you have an entire group of channels that you can use thanks to inbound marketing.

Traditional outbound marketing can end up being a poor investment. You have to rely on channels like cold-calling, paid branding and print advertising. All of those channels can get really expensive really fast. Inbound marketing, on other hand, will help you capture attention, generate leads, convert customers and keep those customers…all at a lower cost to you than your competition.

So, if you need help getting more traffic, more leads and retaining customers, then let’s look at a few steps you need to take to get there.

#1 – Ignore Sales and Focus on Marketing

Hiring a killer sales team is very important but your efforts should be focused on building a marketing team. A team with excellent marketing skills guided by an in-depth marketing strategy that will achieve results once properly executed. With a strategy, your sales team avoid spending their time chasing down un-qualified prospects and following up on bad leads.

Hire brilliant marketersLook for talented men and women who have a reputation for building a huge fan base, generating qualified leads and using the tools that are involved in inbound marketing (SEO, social media and content marketing) to bring brand exposure. It’s also better to find those who have worked with a start-up company before.

Focus on tightly targeted markets – Understand your audience, break them down into relevant segments and then create tailor-made campaigns for each segment. This narrow approach will also raise your conversion rates.

Close qualified leads –What does a qualified sales lead look like? It comes down to the answer of these three questions: Do they have the authority to buy? Do they have the budget to buy? When do they plan on buying?

You want your sales team to avoid leads that are NINAs—no influence, no authority. You want to just send them mostly ‘A’ leads (leads that are ready to buy in 3 months or less), some ‘B’ leads (a lead that is ready to buy in three to twelve months). The C leads marketing can keep.

#2. Focus On Multiple Inbound Channels

The key behind an effective inbound marketing strategy is to create and deliver valuable content. This strategy gives you a lot of different channels to use.

Blog – Your team should focus on publishing quality content two to five times a week. By quality I mean it is search-engine friendly, highly-researched and compelling.

Engage in comment marketing – Someone on your team should focus on visiting sites within your industry to interact with bloggers and readers in the comment section. Commenting is a great SEO strategy too, but more importantly it will bring you attention, help build you up as an authority and prepare you to write guest blog posts.

Publish guest blog posts – Guest blogging is one of the fastest ways to grow your subscriber base. Fortunately, because of the high demand for content many blogs are looking for guest writers.

Produce online video – Video can help improve your search rankings, raise the amount of time people stay on your page and even boost conversion rates on your landings pages.

Establish authority on forums – Naira land has really established itself as a place for exchange of ideas. And localized digital also has a digital marketing forum. Search for topics related to your industry, leave thoughtful answers and interact with other contributors. This process will help build your credibility.

Build a social media audience – Focus your audience-building efforts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. If your target audience is on Pinterest or Tumblr, then use those sites as well. Keep in mind—don’t spread yourself too thin. Pick two or three that you can maximize your exposure.

 #3. Seminars, Conferences and Meetups

If your industry has a lot of these shows, you may be tempted to attend a few. Why not? They’re are a great place to meet new people, build relationships and build your brand. And sometimes you’re tempted to setup a booth at these shows. But it can be very expensive. From buying the ticket to the show (which can be quite expensive) to setting up, there are plenty operational costs.

There is a more effective—and cheaper—way to leverage the power of these shows without even going or paying. In fact a lot of these conferences share so much content during the show that you can tweet about it as if you are actually there, using the conference related hashtags, of course.

social media week lagos

PHOTO CREDIT: socialmediaweek.org

Here’s what you could do also:

Blog about the main points of each speaker – During an event you can check the website and pull down the points that he is sharing. Then publish a blog post as soon as possible and promote it on your social site. This will engage you with those who are actually at the conference!

Summarize the conference – The day after the event create a blog post or white paper about the conference. Include points from each speaker and even offer take away lessons that you learned. This is effective because you were building a captive audience while you were tweeting and blogging during the event.

“Attending” conferences and trade shows via the internet (if live streaming is available) will probably give you more insight than those who are actually attending since you’ll have a wider view. Make sure you are engaging both attendees and speakers at these events, and notifying them when you share content.

Conclusion

Inbound marketing is truly a gift to startups who are strapped for cash. Depending on how big your team is, you will all probably end up working like a slave to get it all done…but it will be worth the effort.

Dozens of companies like Uber Nigeria and Truppr got tremendous exposure for their companies from their tireless inbound marketing efforts.