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Budget Stripped? Here Are Some Creative Ways to Promote Your Business

Larry Alton

February 28, 2021

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Has your business had to make major budget cuts in response to a rough 2020 business year? If so, you might be looking for ways to continue investing in marketing and branding...but at a much lower price point. The question is, where do you start?

5 Low-Cost Marketing Options

Marketing doesn't have to be outrageously expensive. Here are a few low-cost or free suggestions that will help you do more with less.

1. Make Some Noise on Social Media

In terms of price and reach, nothing beats social media. Not only is it free to use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, but it gives you the opportunity to reach millions of people. The key is to make the right kind of noise so that you get noticed by the algorithms, as well as prospective customers.

If you're posting generic copy and graphics from a branded company account, good luck! Nobody is going to take notice. Your social content needs to be highly unique and differentiated. People are tired of seeing sterile, recycled branding. They want a peek behind the scenes. Customers want to see what makes you tick. Produce content that adds real value - like how-to articles or behind the scenes videos - and you'll enjoy much better traction.

2. Run Contests

One of the best ways to grab attention is to run a contest on social media. And if you want to run a high returning contest, you need both a good prize and a good hook.

Good ideas for prizes include: your own products and services, products related to your brand (which your target customers find valuable), gift cards, cash, or unique experiences.

"After selecting your prize, you'll need to determine the hook for your contest," marketing expert Joe Teo writes. "Will the prize sell itself? If so, the prize can be the hook. However, not every brand can offer one-week all-expenses-paid trips or celebrity meet and greets, so use the resources available to you wisely, and choose an interesting spin."

For best results, you want to incorporate some element of virality into contests. For example, you might require people to tag ten friends and/or share the post on their social feed before their entry can be confirmed. This increases your exposure exponentially and helps you identify which customers are most committed.

3. Try Print Marketing

Digital isn't the only medium. If you're looking for cost-effective ways to increase exposure, you should also consider print marketing. Brochures and pamphlets still have value in a world that's oversaturated in digital media. (They can be especially cost-effective when ordered in bulk.)

4. Create More Video

It's no longer appropriate to say video is the "way of the future." In fact, video is the way of the present. We're living in the middle of the video age, and brands that learn how to leverage video as part of their marketing strategies will generate healthy returns.

Don't have a ton of money to spend on carefully edited video? Rest assured, you don't need an expensive in-house editor. Some of the most effective videos are live streaming, social "stories," and behind the scenes interviews. If you have a smartphone and can remember how to turn your camera to landscape mode, you're equipped to win with video.

5. Partner With Influencers

You only have so much reach. And anything that comes from your brand's mouth is going to be taken with heavy doses of salt. Like it or not, you're biased. But there are workarounds - like partnering with influencers to better market your brand.

When searching for the right influencers, you want people who have an audience that overlaps with your own. These should be people who naturally embody your brand's characteristics and who genuinely like and use your products. (Here's an in-depth guide on how to find influencers and manage these partnerships well.)

Don't Let Your Marketing Lag

When budgets get pared back and discretionary spending goes out the window, marketing is often one of the first things small businesses cut back on. But this almost always ends up being a costly mistake.

If you let your marketing lag behind, you'll undercut your revenue and dig yourself an even deeper financial hole. Before you know it, you're missing revenue goals and finding it difficult to bring in enough net revenue to account for overhead costs.

When money is tight, nixing marketing isn't the answer. Instead, you should look for cost-effective or free options to keep your brand afloat without overspending. If you learn to walk this line well, good things will happen for you.

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