Article by Melissa Javan (SME South Africa)
Executing a marketing strategy with a limited budget is a challenge for many entrepreneurs.
For those looking for ideas to build brand awareness and attract potential customers, here is our list of inexpensive (or free) marketing tools and strategies.
Secure free media coverage for your brand
Securing free media attention can amplify an entrepreneur’s credibility, and show their expertise which can lead to speaking gigs and even increased sales. Submit newsworthy press releases or contribute to relevant conversations through press interviews. More tips to get media coverage
Collaborate with other entrepreneurs
Getting referrals, especially through the power of word of mouth, is good for business. This is why Gwen Serrotti, an entrepreneur and founder of the initiative Xtraordinary Women, a business network for women, suggests that entrepreneurs can support each other by recommending each other’s services. Get tips on how to get referrals from other entrepreneurs
Become a thought leader by producing content
Entrepreneurs can use social media platforms and blogs to engage with current clients and potential customers. Mariza Halliday, the co-founder of the digital marketing company, Driven Social, says to position yourself as a thought leader, you should respond to customer questions and also contribute to conversations in your industry. “If it’s done effectively, you can earn potential customers’ trust and eventually convert leads into sales.” Ideas for how you can use social media to gain potential customers’ trust
Make sure your business can easily be found on Google
Google My Business is a free service which increases the visibility of your business in Google’s search results. Business owners are able to create a profile for their business with their location and contact information included. This makes it easier for individuals to find any registered business (and their contact information) on Google Search or Maps. Learn more about the benefits of having a Google My Business profile
Enter high profile competitions
It can cost you time to search for and enter start-up and entrepreneurship competitions, however, if you do well you not only stand a chance of winning a prize (often money), but also the opportunity to be associated with well-known corporates involved in the initiative, as well as increased visibility. More on this and other inexpensive ways you can attract attention
Host a small intimate client party
Many businesses only consider client functions during peak seasons, why not host an intimate party out of season? It will only cost the price of the venue (if you don’t use your own office) and food and perhaps goodies you can give to your guests. Tips for hosting the perfect client party
Run a Facebook campaign
“Facebook ads offer businesses the opportunity to build a tightly targeted audience, create and advertise a sales funnel, run a conversion campaign and reap significant ROI,” says Shirley Anthony, author, speaker, and owner of Marketing Breakthroughs, a marketing consultancy.
The cost of Facebook ads varies, so you can start by allocating a small amount to test the waters, depending on its performance, you can increase your budget. Full guide for running a Facebook campaign here
Build a customer email database list
It is said that building a customer email database is still one of the most profitable long-term marketing strategies. You can get a free marketing automation platform like MailChimp to send out your emails or pay for an email marketing software tool. You’ll need to target the right audience and in your communication to them, offer the answer to the question “What’s in it for me?” All email database hacks here
Listen to customer feedback
Social media platforms are the go-to places for customers to air their grievances about a product or service. It is also easy for them to communicate with a brand via social media, instead of calling them.
Femi Adebanji, author and sought-after customer service speaker, trainer and consultant, says when customers complain, they are actually giving you insight into what’s working and not working in your service. “If we don’t address their pain points properly, then we are not giving them a compelling reason to continue to do business with us. And if we don’t, we can be rest assured that our competitors will.” Ideas to get the most out of any customer feedback
Consider old-school marketing tactics
There is still value in traditional offline marketing strategies like advertising in a school’s newsletter, at a library or a shopping centre’s advertising board. They are all inexpensive lead generation strategies. You can also consider using an A-frame display stand with a catchy heading or offer, and with an arrow pointing in the direction of your shop. Read more old-school marketing tactics
Become the face of your company
The future of branding is personal, says Dr Talaya Waller, personal branding consultant, and marketing scholar. “CEOs have become the face of the company; the face of the company is no longer the logo. A good CEO can attract media attention, bring in more investors and the best talent to the organisation. For instance, people still want to work for Apple because of Steve Jobs, even though he is not around anymore.” Advice on how to help market your business
Grow your network
A total of 33% of entrepreneurs that have been in business for more than two years attribute the primary reason for their success to cultivating strong personal networks, according to the Real State of Entrepreneurship in South Africa 2017 survey. As an alternative to events, you can join online networks on social media. Learn how to grow your network.