Small businesses have a high failure rate, with the rate increasing for every year they are operating. The reasons vary, although most businesses on the brink of failure share some common traits—lack of sufficient capital, poor management, inadequate business planning and marketing budget overblow.
The one most relevant for this article is overblowing the marketing budget. Small businesses cannot afford to conduct marketing campaigns on scales similar to mega-corporations. Not only does it make no sense for them to do so but also it is not sustainable financially.
Besides the obvious financial issues, small businesses also face the issue of attracting new clients. Saying competition is fierce for small business would be an understatement—every single customer nowadays counts.
With so many similar small businesses and industry behemoths fighting for much of the same client base, it is becoming increasingly hard to grab potential new clients. The advertising market, both online and offline, is also very saturated, so making a mark there is also a difficult task.
However, it is not all gloom and doom. Regardless of the size of your business, marketing is an absolute must. This does not mean that all your finances and capital should be invested in this channel.
Remember that your small business does not need to compete with the big dogs of the industry to stay afloat and flourish—not yet anyway. It is important to keep your marketing budget within reason. According to research conducted by Sageworks, 1-5% of your revenues represents the most optimal amount to be invested in marketing.
With that said, let’s explore some budget-friendly methods of promoting/advertising your business both offline and online.
Ideas to Promote Your Business Online
- Social Media: People use social media daily. There is an enormous amount of potential in this landscape given the huge number of people using it. Using this channel for your marketing campaign is not only wise but at this point mandatory. In addition to being able to promote your business to a large audience, you get the added advantage of it being almost free of charge (‘almost’ because it depends on whether or not you take your marketing in-house or hire a professional agency to handle it for you). Most social media websites also give you the option to conduct targeted advertising which is not cheap, but is cheaper compared to traditional marketing methods.
- SMS Marketing: SMS marketing campaigns have been around, ever since mobile devices gained traction among the masses and become the most used piece of technology. It is super popular among all sorts of businesses because of the results it delivers. Text messages have 98% open rate which is miles ahead of any other sort of communication and their conversion rates are on par as well. Given its ability to reach people anywhere in the world and how cheap of an option it is marketing-wise, it is no surprise it has been widely used for decades now. Especially for a small business that wants to promote their brand in budget, this is an ideal marketing method to invest and engage in.
- Affiliate Marketing: As far as traditional online marketing is concerned, affiliate marketing is a deviation from the norm. Its goal and purpose are the same but the method in which affiliate marketing works differs slightly. Put simply it is when an advertiser—which in this context is a small business—uses an affiliate (another company or an online influencer) to promote their product or services in exchange for a cut in profits from the sales generated through the affiliate. Strictly speaking, a small business engaging in affiliate marketing does not spend money on advertising but rather shares a small percentage of its sales with the affiliate responsible for the promotion. It is an optimal way to promote your small business without over blowing your budget.
Ideas to Promote Your Business Offline
- Newspaper Ads: If you are a small business, chances are your presence does not extend beyond your local region. In which case, it is wise to promote your business by means of local advertising. Newspaper advertisements are a good start and ones operating locally usually do not charge much whilst giving you a fair amount of exposure among the locals.
- Billboard Ads: Very much similar to newspaper ads in concept, billboard ads give you an opportunity to visually expose your brand to the public. If placed appropriately in strategically advantageous places, you will be surprised as to how effective they can be in creating brand awareness. It is not super expensive, however depending on the size of the billboard, costs may run a bit high.
- Radio Spots: Even though it has gone down in popularity and has become a sort of a niche market, radio does not lose its relevance nevertheless. A lot of people listen to the radio on their way to work or back home, so this is your opportunity to catch their attention through an ad spot promoting your brand. Prices for local radio ad spots have also gone down, so it is a good opportunity for your small business to capitalize on.