That’s exactly the question I hear over and over again when working with small businesses. It is probably the biggest nightmare that faces most small business owners since they know they should invest in their business if they want to see it move forward.
While not having a lot of money to invest in your business is pretty normal, especially in the early stages of your business, it could be the product of many bad decisions as well.
You could be having lots of unnecessary expenses without even realizing. I’ve seen many small business owners spend their money on things that will never contribute to their business’s bottom-line, not in a million years. Yet they keep investing that money because they lack the proper attribution models that determine what business is coming from where.
Many small businesses spend money on marketing strategies because of media pressure. They see that everyone is doing something, and they keep investing in it even if it’s not bringing any return.
The most important thing when dealing with a budget crisis is to step back and think of what your business can’t survive without. All the remaining expenses (software you don’t really need, gadgets that aren’t necessary, consultants that aren’t contributing to your business’s bottom-line, unnecessary travel expenses…etc) should be re-purposed and invested into your social media marketing strategy. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of those!
Unlike what many people think, social media marketing isn’t free. The social platforms are of course free to use, but the marketing will cost you money. However, if you still don’t have a big budget for social media marketing, then you can always make up for this by creativity!
To explain my last point, let’s see an example that we all witness on a daily basis.
How many bad ads you see every day on TV?
I’m sure plenty!
I sometimes see big brands that are spending fortunes to run expensive ads that I’m sure a 10 year old kid can do better.
You know why?
It’s because they can afford it. Once you have lots of money to invest in marketing, you won’t really have to exhaust you brain to be creative. You just make one of those laundry detergent ads where they’ve been doing the same ad for years now. You know, the one where they compare their product to another one (that looks sometimes like their competitor’s product blurred). We’ve already seen those ads hundreds of times, yet every time I turn the TV on, I see one of those
You, on the other hand, don’t have a big budget for such marketing campaigns, so you really need to squeeze your brain to find creative ways to market your business without breaking the bank. Here are a few:
1- Start Small And Then Invest More As You Go
Many small business owners are impatient when it comes to growing their business. They want all or none!
Social media marketing on the other hand is a long term strategy and it needs at least few months before you can see results, especially if you don’t have the budget for it.
What you need to do is to start small and grow gradually as you get a return. The great thing about starting small is that you get to discover your mistakes without spending a fortune. Once you have a firm grasp of what works for your business and what doesn’t, then you can take it a little further by investing more resources.
2- Seek Investors
Another solution to grow fast when you don’t have money to spend on business development and marketing is to seek investors. Funding your business is a great way to stay ahead of your competitors and not losing your competitive advantage because of slow growth. However, it has some down sides as well. One of which is that it’s hard to find investors without having solid data to back your project up. Also, when you have investors early, you risk altering your company’s vision because they mostly care about bottom-line!
3- Free Strategies Still Work And Are Still Super Powerful
In a recent article by Neil Patel, he wrote how he was able to grow his company Crazy Egg to 100.000 users with only a $10.000 marketing budget. That’s 10 cents per user acquisition!!!
Neil relied mostly on blogger outreach in addition to business partnerships to grow his business. These strategies require a massive investment of time and effort, but what else you have if you don’t have budget.
The same thing applies to social media marketing. There are some free strategies that are proven to work, yet they don’t cost a dime. A great one is influencer/reporter outreach via social media. I saw that a combination of sharing their content constantly on Twitter, mentioning them and including a small comment/opinion after the tweet will get them to notice you and your product. Twitter can do miracles for your business, but only if you use it the way it’s intended to be used. That means focusing on quality not quantity.
4- Focus On The Most Important Things
It you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you already know that I always emphasize on the Pareto Principal which suggests that 80% of the outcomes come from only 20% of actions. That means that if you can identify those 20% result generating actions, then you’ll be able to cut down on all of those wasted resources and reinvest them back into those 20%.
The problem with this is that it’s not always easy to determine positive ROI activities since most effective strategies take some time to take positive effect into your business. The key here is to track your daily activities and their outcome as well as doing an assessment at least once every 2 weeks to determine where most of your business is coming from.
5- Training Vs Hiring
This actually depends on how much social media marketing experience business owners and their teams have. If you’re already familiar with new social technologies and trends, then hiring a social media marketing consultant/coach is probably the best way to go. It will save you lots of money since you’re going to be implementing the strategies yourself.
On the other hand, if you and your team don’t understand how social media marketing works, then you might want to consider hiring a social media marketer to take care of everything until you learn what works and what doesn’t for your business. However, you should keep in mind that during all stages of development, you and your team should stay close and get involved in the strategy to understand how everything works.
That being said, which effective strategies do you use to market your business that don’t cost a lot of money?
Image Credit: Images_of_Money