Marketing a shoestring budget (Part 3)

Creating a marketing plan on a limited budget can be difficult and can seem downright impossible.  However, if you have taken the first two segments seriously, you should have a clear idea of who your target market is and where they are likely to find out about your product/service and you should have begun working on clear and cohesive brand image for your business.

Once those steps are complete, it is time to start thinking about strategies to get your business noticed.  There are many more ways that you can accomplish this task but we are going to focus on a couple of no cost and low-cost strategies.

Free Marketing Opportunities

  • Submit a press release to your local newspaper when something important happens in your industry or within your business.  This will position as an expert in the field whether they use your submission or not.  By submitting quality information, you may become the person that they contact when more information or a quote is needed on a specific subject.  It will also provide an opportunity for your business to receive a free mention in the paper, as a part of the article, which will build your credibility in the minds of your clients.  Before you submit information to a news source, make sure you have proofed it a million times and make sure the information is legitimate and timely.
  • Offer to speak at local meetings.  This a great way to get your name out and to establish your credibility because it provides an opportunity for you to present on something relevant that is happening in your industry.  Make sure: you are a good speaker, you have a well-planned out presentation that stays within the time parameters that you are provided and that your presentation is not a sales pitch.  Any one or combination of the those three could prove more harmful than helpful when using this strategy.  Some organizations may offer to pay you while others may even allow you to distribute information about your business.  These details should be worked out before the event to avoid an awkward situation at the event.
  • Ask for referrals.  This is one of the cheapest methods of building your business.  Why not ask people who already like what you do to introduce you to other people like themselves?  Ideally, those people should like the same thing – you.  A lot of people don’t receive referrals simply because they don’t ask for the introduction.

Low Cost Marketing Strategies

  • Invite a prospect to breakfast.  Breakfast is perhaps one of the cheapest meals of the day, depending on location.  Having some one-on-one time with a potential client or group of clients over breakfast is a great way to get to know them better and you are more likely to have a higher attendance.  It is often hard for people to break away for lunch and once the work day is over most people are ready to head home.  A breakfast invitation ensures that the appointment will not run over time because most people have to get to work and it can inexpensive to host a group for breakfast (juices, coffee, Danish, bagels and fruit) while maintaining a casual and professional environment.
  • Give away samples of your product/service.  I don’t advocate giving away the whole store but when attending networking events, why not take a sample of your product or discount coupons to allow them to try out your business at a later date.  The cost of one sale could earn you a new lifelong client.
  • Invest in training your staff.  Your employees are ambassadors for your company.  If they are not doing a good job representing your company then NOTHING else matters because you won’t be able to keep your customers.  Consider holding monthly staff trainings where you inform them about new products/services or to review a policy/procedure that everyone may not be on the same page about.  If you want them to really love you, offer to buy lunch once per month and make it a lunch meeting.  Pizza and sub trays are very popular.
  • Make a donation to a charity event to be used for a silent auction or door prize.  Don’t think about the cost of this item but think about the good will and exposure that your business will receive.  There may be some people who have never heard of your business that will be impressed by your generosity and choose to support you because you supported their cause. 
  • Host a free seminar/training for your clients.  It doesn’t have to be about your business directly.  You can team up with a complementary business to host a joint event.  For example, a florist and event planner could team up to host a seminar on tips to host an event.  They may even go a step further and invite a chef.  You will have a few do-it-youselfers in the group but you will also have a few that would rather pay you to the work which translates into new clients.

I hope this tips prove helpful with you creating a marketing plan on a shoestring budget.  As always, don’t hesitate to contact me with your questions – contact@lakeshawomack.com – I love hearing from you and answering your quesitons.

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