Top 7 Marketing Ideas for a Small Budget
By Ann Marie Rubertone
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You want to market your small business but you don’t want to spend a lot of money. You may be just starting out and have little capital or you may have a successful business but want to spend as little as possible for the greatest results. Or, you may just be cheap. How can you create a marketing strategy that results in a steady stream of new clients on a shoestring budget? Try these 7 Marketing Ideas for a Small Budget!
Before there was money, there was bartering, the direct exchange of goods and services. You might not have money for marketing, but you do have something to trade: your business.
Call your local radio stations and offer free gifts, appointments, coupons—whatever you've got and can afford—to be used as prizes in their promotional draws or contests. In exchange, you get to include your business name and contact information on all these products, and they make periodic announcements on the air that sing praises of your contributions.
You can also barter with other small businesses in your area. Are you an information broker, plumber, candlestick maker? Find a copywriter, Web site designer or desktop publisher and offer to trade your services for professionally written ad copy and polished Web sites and brochures.
- Signs in or on your vehicle.
Window decals are fairly inexpensive considering their lifespan. Remember to include your website address. If funds are really short, make signs on Bristol board and put them inside the windows. You can also get license decals. These can include your website address, company name, and phone number and fit nicely around your license plate.
- Iron-on transfers.
As a small business owner you already eat and sleep your business, so why not wear it too. You can purchase the transfers at your local business supply store and, I imagine, at craft stores. Then it’s just a matter printing your logo (or whatever you want on the shirt) onto a transfer and ironing it on. This is what I used several times with my real estate listings! I made a copy of the MLS listing on a shirt! Talk about getting attention!!
- Give Away Tips (and Your Name)
Name recognition: that's what those giant billboard ads and full-color magazine spreads are trying to build. Name recognition sells because people fall back on the things that are familiar. You, too, can cash in on this tendency—and spend nothing more than your time and photocopying costs.
Start by writing a short article that offers a set of tips related to your business. Remember, on this topic, you're the expert. Pick a catchy title that promises secrets, numbers and reasons ("Become your own boss in five easy steps," "Three things to try when your computer dies" and "7 mortgage mistakes to avoid," for example). Don't overtly sell your business, though you can make references to it. Many people who never read ads will read an article, especially one that promises a tangible benefit.
Format the article so you can fold it into a convenient shape for mailing or handing out. Include contact information and a clear but brief description of your business where they're visible but not obtrusive. Hand out the "free tips" at networking events, send them to relatives and friends, and post them on bulletin boards in coffee shops, Laundromats, public libraries and malls. Offer them free from your Web site if you have one.
Ask compatible local businesses to keep a stack of them as a service to customers. "10 things to look for in a good pet sitter" would probably be welcomed at your vet's office, "Beat stress through aromatherapy" at a natural products store. And the next time someone is going on holiday in Europe or runs into a stressful spell, your pet-sitting or aromatherapy massage business will be first in line for consideration.
- Your Newspaper
Check out the Employment Section and Business of your regional Sunday newspaper. The companies that advertise have money to hire, so they may have money to spend on your products or services. Pick out 20 new companies to call the following Monday or send your marketing campaign to! You can also check national newspapers online for the same information if your business or products can be provided on a “national” level. I've signed more than a few clients using this method.
- The Best Answer on the Machine
Does the message on your answering machine mention anything about your business? It's a marketing opportunity. Tell your customers about a new product, service or special price via your answering machine message. Remember don’t have a lengthy message either, always direct callers to visit your website for more information. Be brief and to the point!
- Fax Cover Sheets
Design and create a FAX coversheet that not only identifies the person who is to receive the FAX, but also promotes your business. One brilliant idea is to include your current promotion. Example: A hotel could promote a “$66 Weekend Ski Package.”
Ann Marie Rubertone is a marketing consultant & freelance writer. Her two newest booklets, The One Page Marketing Plan and "13 Household Items You Can Use To Market Your Business" tips for marketing on a shoestring budget that can make the difference between success and failure. Check It Out is a customer-driven marketing firm providing design, writing, editing, desktop publishing services, and hands-on marketing workshops for independent professionals and small businesses. For more information, contact Ann Marie Rubertone, Check It Out, http://www.checkitoutinc.com
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Article Submitted On: August 12, 2006