If you’re a start-up or a relatively new business, the chances are, you don’t have a great deal of money to spare for marketing campaigns. That doesn’t have to be a problem, though. With some planning, preparation and hard work, you can still deliver an effective campaign without having to spend money you don’t have. This is Probella’s guide to working on a campaign with a very low budget.
Start by focusing on specific platforms.
There’s no need to have a presence everywhere, despite what some marketing professionals may have you believe. Find out where you have the most engagement and focus your efforts there. There’s no point in spending money to push your campaign on Instagram if you only have a few followers. Well established accounts with plenty of engagement should be your priority. Even if you only pay for ads on Facebook and twitter, if your account is active and well maintained enough, that can be enough exposure for a campaign to succeed. Be realistic and play to the audience you already have, not the one who want.
Work Out What You Can Do Yourself
Can you write? Draw? Speak in a professional way? Think carefully before hiring a professional to do a job that you could potentially do yourself. Some small businesses do all their own marketing and promotion very successfully by sharing out jobs like social media updates and product photography amongst their existing staff. Make a list of the jobs that need doing (design, writing, programming, PR, for example) and see if it’s feasible to carry them out without having to pay an external contractor or agency.
Use Free Software Wherever Possible
It’s great to have the range of features that certain professional packages offer, but whether you’re a designer, a writer or a photographer, there are now so many free tools out there that of a decent quality, it’s possible to create high quality work without having to pay for subscriptions or licences. This is perhaps not a long-term solution, but if you are looking for ways to save money in your marketing campaign, it can be a good place to start.
Let Your Customers Help You
There are several ways you can do this but one of the most popular is to invite them to leave positive reviews on your site directly, or via other platforms such as TripAdvisor and specific ratings sites. You can also encourage them to get involved with hashtags and brand slogans. Competitions on social media work very well, especially if you stipulate that entrants must use hashtags or certain phrases in order to be considered for a prize. The key is to make the whole as process as enjoyable as possible for them. They should feel as if they want to do this for you, rather than as if they are doing you a favour.
Internships and Work Experience
If you have some experience in marketing and are willing to do a little bit of explaining, you can get great results by allowing interns or those seeking some work experience to take control of some elements of your campaign. You will obviously need to check their work carefully and provide some advice along the way, but this kind of set up can work well for everybody involved. It provides the newcomers with an opportunity to learn and build their own portfolio and it allows you to get work done for far less than you would usually pay when dealing with a professional agency. There are downsides to this option but providing you spend some time selecting the right people, it can be a great way to save money and develop new professional relationships.
Focus on What You Do More Than Who You Are
If you have a limited budget, you don’t really have the luxury of creating a complex brand identity. In most cases, you don’t really need to, either. Just show off what you do in the best possible light and the quality of your work should speak to for itself. People don’t really need to know your back story and if you are short on funds, a simplistic approach to campaigns is usually the most effective. Generally speaking, potential customers are far more interested in what you can offer them, rather than how you came to be in a position to do so.
Think Creatively and Bend the Rules
You don’t have to stick to social media. You don’t even have to stick to online marketing. Some of the most successful low budget marketing campaigns have worked so well because they were so different to anything else out there at the time. Cheap but effective offline methods like flyers, stickers and abstract, guerrilla style marketing techniques can be used to compliment online campaigns very well. Providing you have the basics online; you can drive a lot of traffic to a site by targeting the right events or locations. Obviously, you will need to make sure you aren’t falling foul of any littering or vandalism laws, but it is possible to turn a very low budget campaign into a high-profile success with the right kind of approach.
You will need to choose your allies carefully, but this approach can be very effective and mutually beneficial for everybody involved. If you work in an industry that allows you to work in collaboration with another, similar company, this can be a great way to save money on marketing. You can promote each other’s services and enjoy a share of each other’s audience, too. Choosing the right partner can even help to build your own reputation, though conversely, if things don’t go well, it can also have negative consequences. Working with businesses of a similar level is usually recommended for joint campaigns, though it can be possible to approach larger or well-established businesses if you have the right kind of product.