Marketing your business is an essential building block for success. But it can be hard to do if you’re a small company, or if you aren’t familiar with how to go about it. You might have read advice online about how to master social media or build an email list. But how does that help your small business, startup, or side-project succeed? If your company doesn’t make itself known to customers, or if the way customers see you isn’t what you intended, then you’ll have trouble making sales, and staying in business.
Small businesses have traditionally had a harder time marketing themselves due to costs. It’s expensive to buy ads and compete with larger businesses and more traditional marketing. But bootstrapping your marketing is becoming an increasingly more viable option. As ad companies have made advertising more accessible, email becomes more user-friendly, and the business landscape changes, smaller companies are having an easier time doing their marketing at a price that doesn’t break the bank.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the best ways to market your business for cheap, and we’ll go over them in the order that will help you maximise your results on a smaller budget.
Bootstrapping Your Marketing
When it comes to bootstrapping your marketing, you might have no budget to spend, a modest budget, or in some cases a healthy budget to try and acquire new customers. Bootstrapping as we’re referring to it is not so much concerned with your budget, and is more concerned with doing things in-house (without an agency) to help keep costs lower, and keep you more engaged with the process of marketing and how it can improve and impact your business in a positive way.
If you have a healthy budget, you might be able to invest more in some of the activities listed here, but you should not feel obligated too. Most of these marketing activities can be conducted for little to no budget by using the right tools available. If there is a tool that you feel would be a better investment for your business, the same rules should apply.
When it comes to startups, side-projects, and small businesses, the choice to start bootstrapping your marketing is a decision that might come with some anxiety, but it is a great leap towards better understanding your customers, and how they find you and ultimately end up making a purchase.
Know Who Your Customers Are
Before you can start your marketing activities, you need to understand who your customers are. To do this, many companies will create personas of their ideal customers to understand better the characteristics that make up their perfect customer. By taking the time to develop a persona, you will have a better understanding of where you might need to concentrate your marketing dollars and effort. For example, if you sell camping tents, you might be able to exclude LinkedIn from a large part of your marketing efforts based on the fact that camping isn’t a big part of most people’s professional life. Instead, you can focus on websites that instead are geared toward outdoor activities or leisure time.
You might even be able to dive into the exact demographics that make up your ideal customers which could help you with online ad spending later, and targeting the right folks when spending money.
This is an essential step that puts in place the foundation that will inform and shape the rest of your marketing activities.
Research Your Customers
After you know who your ideal customers are you’ll want to dive into researching them. You’ll want to know where they hang out online, what other interests they might have, what your competitors are saying to them, and how you could differentiate yourself to them.
Build a detailed list of places that are important to your customers, and if you have existing customers, use them as a guide to find out more information. If you can, talk to them directly. Your goal is to build a mind-map of all the things your customers and an ideal customer would find essential or appealing in a product like yours.
To give your product the best chance in the marketplace you need to understand what people want, and how your product fits into that equation. To do this, you need to become your own mini market research department.
Make Your Website Perfect
Take the information you know about your customers and use that to inform your website copy, blog posts, pricing, FAQ, documentation, etc. If your customers said that they were unsure of exactly what your product did, or didn’t realise something initially, take that feedback and add improvements to your website.
Your website will be the first place where people come into contact with you and your product. And you only have a minimal window to communicate your message to these visitors, so make sure what you have to say is accurate and compelling.
Your research of your ideal customer should have also given you an idea of what you are up against regarding competition, so if your website looks like it’s from 2005, and your competitors all have shiny new sites, that’s something you’ll want to address.
Making improvements to your existing website, and considering your ideal customer when building a new site is a significant step towards making your other marketing efforts successful. Ad campaigns rely on clear and modern websites to help with conversions, and email lists are not well built with old and clunky sites that don’t communicate value.
If you put in a right amount of effort here, you will see the hard work pay off down the road.
Build an Email List
Now that you have your research and website together you can get started doing more activities that people traditionally associate with marketing. Like building an email list.
To build an email list, the first thing you’ll want to do is ask for emails on your website. One conventional method for capturing emails is to create a good piece of content that people might want to download and put it up on your website behind a form requesting email information. Like an eBook about your product area.
You can just as well capture emails by offering information about future releases about your product, or a newsletter, but you should expect conversion rates to be a little lower for this type of email capture. But this is a standard method for companies to start building a list of email contacts that they can then email in the future.
Building your email list will be an activity that can be very valuable. But make sure these are emails from engaged people who want to be receiving communications from you. Resist the temptation to buy lists. Trying to talk to people who don’t want to talk to you is just bad marketing, and with new European privacy laws, could land you in trouble.
Do your best to build an extensive email list with tons of your ideal customers, and you’ll see the benefits when you start running email campaigns.
Create Impactful Email Campaigns
When you have your perfect email list put together, you can start sending emails to your list. When you decide to start sending emails, you’ll, of course, need to determine what your strategy is. Do you want to try to sell using email, or is your goal to raise awareness?
Your emails should be in line with the strategy, and you should optimise them one way or the other. If you don’t have a clear strategy when sending email, it will be hard to measure your real impact and optimise for converting more of your list towards your goals.
You can use platforms like MailChimp to not only help build your list for cheap but also send targeted marketing emails to the people on that list.
Email is perhaps the most powerful tool for marketing and requires that you know your goal, have a list and create content that works. If you do all those things, email will help you greatly in making your business a success.
Create Impactful Videos
A great way to make the most of your product is to create a video about it. This can be used both on your website and in email campaigns. Video is an increasingly important medium and is a great way to introduce people to your product.
Creating video is probably the most challenging thing on this list, but it will go a long way if your video is produced well and shows your product off in the right ways. Just look at how many successful brands have leveraged video for their product overview experience, and for email.
This is a powerful medium that people enjoy, and it could go a long way towards helping sell your product. So commit to making an overview.
Get Creative on Social Media
Just get on social media. There are a wide variety of different platforms that can help make you successful. Whether it be the short and casual nature of Twitter, the visual elements of Instagram, or the professional setting of LinkedIn. Your brand needs to be present where your customers hang out. So get out there, and get creative.
There are so many examples of great content. You need to pick your platform and do your best to replicate what the other brands in your space are doing while adding some personality of your own. This is a great way to draw visitors to your site, and hopefully, convert them into customers.
Leverage Influencers and Your Best Customers
Another element of social media that you can leverage to your advantage are influencers. These are power users of social media who have a lot of followers or followers who are extremely loyal within a particular niche.
These power users will often help you out if you pay them or give them product, by posting about your products. If you can build a meaningful relationship with these users, and develop a strong brand using them, you’ll likely have a steady stream of potential customers coming in via social media. This could also help to expand your reach as a brand on the platforms you leverage influencers on.
This is by far the best way to get great impact out of these platforms. So look for the power users in your niche, and get to know them.
Marketing your business is an essential building block for success. It can be hard to do if you’re a small company, or if you aren’t familiar with how to go about it. But if your business doesn’t make itself known to customers, or if the way customers see you isn’t what you intended, then you’ll have trouble making sales, and staying in business.
Small businesses have traditionally had a harder time marketing themselves due to the high cost of keeping up. It’s expensive to buy ads and compete with larger businesses and more traditional marketing. But bootstrapping your marketing is becoming an increasingly more viable option. As ad companies have made advertising more accessible, email becomes more user-friendly, and the business landscape changes, smaller companies are having an easier time doing their marketing at a price that doesn’t break the bank.
We’ve gone over some great ways to get started bootstrapping your marketing, so if you saw something you’re not already doing, get on it!