A big investment in marketing can seem like an essential part of doing business for your brand. After all, if everyone else is spending a considerable portion of revenue on marketing, it may seem as if you'll lose out for not doing the same. You may even feel pressure from others in your industry to empty your wallet to keep up.
In reality, you don't need to break the bank to stay
competitive. These creative hacks can help maximize your money without compromising
1. Leverage Social
Media (the Right Way)
Social media may seem like just a place where teens share
pictures and memes, but the scope of social media goes far beyond funny cat
pics. With free platforms and largely affordable promotion options, it's easier
to target your market and grow leads on social media than virtually anywhere
else. However, your success in converting those leads often depends on the
approach you take and how well you play the game.
Provide as Much Info
A social media page that's lacking in details isn't going to
resonate with anyone. When potential customers visit your Facebook, they don't
want to see a default profile page and an About section with just your URL;
they want a representation of your business, plenty of information like store
hours and location, and an accurate depiction of your brand identity.
Whether you want to admit it or not, social media can impact
consumer perceptions of credibility, authenticity, and transparency, and a bare
profile can set you back.
Promote Your Posts
If you don't have many fans or followers, paying for
targeted ads can be a great investment with a hefty ROI. Most social media
platforms have robust options for targeting, allowing you to hone in on those
most likely to make a purchase.
Before diving in, have a customer persona in mind. Know the
ins and outs of your perfect customer, including gender, average age, income
level, education level, location, and even mutual interests. The more specific
you can be in crafting a profile, the more likely you'll see results on a tight
Social media isn't just a way to advertise your business.
It's also a way to build relationships with your customers. 30% of millennials
engage with brands on social media at least once a month, and many web users of
all ages value the ability to be a part of a community.
Instead of simply posting about what you have for sale,
focus on engagement. Ask questions, invite fans and followers to share photos
and anecdotes, and regularly respond to customer comments on your page to
cultivate loyalty and a sense of togetherness.
2. Commit to Great
In many cases, your website is your first opportunity to
pack a punch with customers. One of the most influential aspects of your site?
The quality of your content.
As the adage goes, you never have a second chance to make a
first impression. The content you put forward speaks to your abilities as a
business, and when what you have to say doesn't align with your brand, is full
of errors, or is lacking in value, your site visitors are unlikely to take a
chance with you.
Before you click publish on any page of your site, from your homepage to your blog, take time to:
- Check grammar and punctuation thoroughly. Tools like Grammarly are affordable and can save you precious hours in editing
- Make sure your voice comes through. The last thing you want is to post content that comes off as clinical and conservative when your identity is youthful and fun
- Be sure you're adding value. Content for content's sake isn't worth much, so verify that whatever you've created aligns with your identity and communicates something important
If you're feeling a little overwhelmed by the importance of
high-quality content, particularly when writing, grammar, and punctuation
aren't your strengths, you're not alone. However, there's an easy solution that
doesn't require hiring a writer in-house and paying them a salary: outsourcing.
Freelance writers are taking the web by storm, offering an
alternative to salaried writers in a way that's far more affordable without
sacrificing quality. Freelancers can be found on freelancing platforms that
pair writers and clients or via independent marketplaces like Craigslist. It
may take a little trial and error to find the right fit for your brand, but a
good freelance writer can save you thousands in content costs.
3. Refresh and
Innovation is critically important in marketing, but that
doesn't mean every idea you have has to be new and original. Refreshing and
reusing existing approaches to marketing can save you significantly in the
course of crafting campaigns without increasing your costs.
Reusing existing content, recycling blog posts, and
returning to prior campaigns may seem like cutting corners, but there's a lot
of value in sticking to tactics that have performed well. You can reuse and
recycle plenty of aspects in your marketing, relying on old favorites to hit
the right notes.
It's highly unlikely the customers on your email marketing
list will remember every message you've sent them, especially emails regarding
sales or promos. These emails – both the templates themselves and any text in
the body – can easily be recycled, allowing you to save time on launching
Did your customers love your BOGO event after the holidays
last year? If so, why change what works? When you have sales and promos that
have historically worked well for you, there's no reason to switch things up.
Reusing promotions allows you to take advantage of the base you already have in
place while reaping rewards on an ongoing basis.
If you have an updated take on a topic you've already
covered, it's possible to recycle existing content. This can mean adding new
stats and republishing, expanding on a topic, or even rearranging your
thoughts. If you're short on time, you don't even need to rewrite or refresh
posts – promoting old but successful blog posts on social media or via email to
get more views can be effective, too.
4. Reward Referrals
Word of mouth can be extremely effective in marketing, with
personal recommendations and advice from friends and family carrying
significant weight. However, this kind of marketing isn't usually something you
can do alone; instead, you need to wait and hope your great performance spurs
Referral programs can get the ball rolling, providing an
incentive for those willing to share. Some companies are hesitant to implement
these kinds of alternatives due to the perceived costs, but referral rewards
don't have to be expensive, and they can offer benefits that far outweigh their
costs. Customers from referrals are four times more likely to make a purchase
and result in 16% higher profits.
To do this, you'll need to set a goal, create a message,
determine an incentive, provide a landing page for information and
registration, and set up a tracking methodology. For companies who want to nail
rewards right out of the gate, utilizing a third party referral platform can
help – after all, the last thing you want to do is launch a process ripe with
Be aware that your incentives don't need to be immense;
something as simple as 10% off a purchase or a $10 account credit can get the
job done. Customers love saving money, so a way to get a discount always
sweetens the pot with both current and prospective shoppers.
5. Win Customers With
Hosting a contest may seem too simple to be effective, but
drawings, giveaways, and social media promotions can achieve numerous goals for
your business without leading to a substantial increase in costs. There are a
few different ways to run a contest, and all have their advantages. Regardless
of how you're hosting a contest, it's important to make sure you focus on
marketing – a contest that no one knows about isn't going to create value.
Purchase to Enter
Have a standout item that customers love? Consider building
a contest around it. Customers who purchase a particular item within a set time
frame can be entered to win. Your reward should focus on sales, too, like $100
to spend or a free high-end item. In this case, the cost to you is low and the
process of entering requires purchases, creating a win-win situation.
Sweepstakes that are structured with no purchase necessary
may seem to detract from your goals, but the opposite can be true. While this
kind of contest may not lead to immediate sales, it can rapidly increase
visibility, particularly when your marketing is on point. A no-obligation registration
will endear you to prospective customers, leading to a much larger base of
potential shoppers who may decide to make a purchase after signing up. This
also allows you to build your email list, improving the reach of future
Social Media Contests
Social media is the new leader in corporate contests, and
Instagram in particular has a lot to offer. Accounts that host contests display
a 70% faster follower growth rate than accounts that don't, and that can be
huge for a company with sights set on expansion. Social media contests can take
plenty of forms, including asking users to tag your page in live stories,
instructing users to post an emoji and tag a friend to enter, or requesting
tags in themed pictures. Regardless of the avenue you take, be sure your page
is the best first impression it can be to wow contest participants.
6. Partner With Your
Affordable marketing doesn't have to stay online. For local
businesses, getting involved in the community can make a big difference. When
you chip in and support area causes, you can put a face to a name and boost
your reputation among prospective customers, the media, and other important
There are dozens of ways to spread the word in your locale, including:
- Sponsoring events that hold meaning in your community, like runs to raise funds for cancer or support for local nonprofits
- Sponsoring children's sports teams to promote youth athletics and improve visibility with area parents
- Volunteering with food banks, children's charities, animal shelters, and other organizations that regularly require large numbers of volunteers
- Having a presence at local craft fairs and festivals, if appropriate
- Donating goods to communities in need, like women's shelters or group homes
When investing in local relations, it's important to choose
causes that align with your brand. If you're a clothing retailer, donating
unsold merchandise to shelters or sponsoring a sports team might be logical,
while a CPA firm may be better positioned to assist low-income communities with
tax preparation and basic financial education.
Communication That Counts
If you want to incentivize purchases, you need to keep the
channels of communication open. It's important to be the name on the tip of
your customer's tongue, and staying silent won't put you in a powerful
Sending an email might sound simple, but nailing email marketing is harder than it seems and missing the mark can compromise customer perceptions. In communicating clearly, be sure to:
- Target messages based on demographics using insights from your CRM, like aiming women's clothes toward shoppers who identify as female
- Craft a compelling title to urge your recipients to open your message and read what's inside
- Keep layouts simple and messages clear without going overboard on text
- Send a thoughtful and well-stated message; you want to inspire readers, not leave them confused
- Provide a clear CTA so that readers get the point and take action immediately
If possible, consider investing in a third-party tool like
MailChimp to streamline the process of creating and distributing marketing
content without a steep time commitment.
Keep All Channels
Today's consumers don't necessarily want to call a company
on the phone and wade through an automated menu. Instead, they want to send you
a private or direct message to start a conversation. With over 1.5 billion
social media users worldwide, there are a lot of people you can tap into by
staying on top of social media conduits. Social-savvy customers often look for
an indication that you are very responsive, and base decisions regarding
If you choose to accept phone calls or email contact, make
sure someone is on hand to keep an eye on your inbox or check voicemails. In
creating a reliable, responsible persona, your communication channels need to
Make Marketing Work
Marketing isn't always easy, but the right strategies can
carry you far – and they don't have to break the bank. With techniques like
referral programs, community partnerships, and a savvy approach to social
media, you can win big with customers without going over budget.