Marketing on a small budget

Although the economy is starting to move again, everybody is still tightening their belts and finding ways to cut costs. Understandably, many continue to worry that their marketing and advertising budget won’t be enough to promote their business.

If you read a lot of business or advertising magazines, you’re likely to hear that you should be spending more money on marketing—money you just don’t have. New business owners who are just starting out might feel daunting to think about how to spread a message without a huge amount of capital.

Well, I have a dirty little secret to tell you about marketing: you don’t need a million-dollar marketing campaign to get results! Good marketing doesn’t mean spending tons and tons of money on big-budget designs and as many ad slots as you can get your hands on. Good—or smart—marketing means targeting your resources on the things that work and getting creative.

Reaching out
Fundamentally, marketing can be seen as an extension of public relations, in that what you are trying to do is reach the public—the people—with your message. Part of that challenge is knowing your customer base and adjusting your strategy so you are targeting them.

If you buy magazine ad space, consider what magazines your target audience reads. If you sell hospital supplies, you would probably have better success buying space in medical journals and magazines than Time or Newsweek. That’s a bit of a reductive example, but you get the idea. Find out where you audience is and go there.

Be the news
There is no better press than, well, press! Work on your press releases and learn how to target your local news sources and blogs for coverage. Good press releases can get you some much-loved media attention, which can give your brand credibility and a name boost. And you don’t have to pay for advertising space!

What is your brand doing that’s news related? Why is it a good story? These are the questions you should ask yourself when writing press releases. If you learn to think like a journalist, you will have greater success at gaining their attention.

Social media
It’s free! Yes, that is always a good reason to try something, but social media is also one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal these days. This ties back to the point I made about reaching out. Social media lets us not only broadcast our brand’s message, but it also allows us to get feedback about how we are doing and what people want from us. We can change and evolve with our customers and build lasting relationships with people.

These are just a few ways you can start thinking about marketing on a small budget. The important thing is not to limit yourself by thinking you can’t make an impact without millions of dollars. Everyone has to start small, but the ones who can be creative and make the most of the tools at hand are the ones who will most likely succeed in the end.