5 Idiot-Proof Methods to Market Your Brand on a Limited Budget

Counting Pennies

Tight on funds? You can’t afford to follow conventional marketing wisdom.

Conventional wisdom, for example, says you shouldn’t use the word “idiot” in your headline. Why? The word is controversial.

Yet, it got your attention. Good. What you need know, above specific words or specific tactics, is that your best return will be applying creativity in less-crowded arenas.

Here are some free and low-cost tactics to try. The biggest investment will be time and creativity. When in doubt, choose to stand out.

 

  1. Publish Excellent Content

How you define “content excellence” will depend on your industry, your product, and your objective for a particular piece of content.

Marketing with an emphasis on visuals has different benchmarks than written materials, for instance. Content distribution will also affect what makes a particular piece of content valuable.

Entrepreneurs should rely on their sense of the market to determine the best approach.

Many small businesses and solopreneurs create their own content. The major cost is time. An entrepreneur should play to their strengths or hire out.

In-house development has major benefits. Developing marketing material internally means you have access to experts. It also means you have absolute creative control.

Whatever kind of content you choose to develop, map out a plan. It will keep you focused and help you track results.

Gloria Kopp offers an instructive framework to build a content marketing workflow.

 

2. Dominate Your Niche

Forget mastering all media. Niche down!

Figure out the best place to distribute your content. Ideally, this is the intersection of where your target audience spends time, and a channel that isn’t too crowded. This could be a platform that you control, like a blog or podcast.

Marketers have also found success on social media channels that are well-known but in niches that are not overrun. Examples include: specific channels on Reddit, a pin strategy on Pinterest, or a photo sharing strategy on Instagram.

 

3. Rev Up Referrals

Referrals are a source of highly successful marketing. Satisfied customers tell others and this, in turn, drives sales. The good news is you can create a referral system inexpensively, and even for free.

First, the free options. Consider the ways you can add referral requests into your everyday workflow. Examples include: adding referral requests on email footers, newsletters, or invoices, or training yourself (or salespeople) to ask for referrals directly. There are also referral plugins for various website platforms, too.

Second, there are inexpensive referral options. Referral software is its own category. Plenty of affiliate software options exist to reward customers for referrals, too.

Referral software pricing is all over the map. Plans with free options to start include ReferMe IQ and Referrizer. Others have higher fees and more specialized purposes. Referral Candy, for example, serves ecommerce businesses. Amplifinity serves enterprises. Find the service for you.

 

4. Direct Mail

Time to rediscover mailbox-clogging direct mail!

One method to reach customers stands out amongst digital approaches: postcards. Postcards are a cost-effective way to reach a targeted group of existing and prospective customers.

Several services exist. Request samples to evaluate paper stock. If you plan to send a low volume you can do it yourself. However, many services will do the mailing on your behalf and take advantage of bulk rate pricing at the same time.

The best mailing list is the one you pull from your CRM (customer relationship management) software because of existing familiarity. It is easy to purchase a mailing list but your return on investment will be with people who already know your business, or located nearby.

 

5. Business Awards

Finally, look for ways to increase earned media press opportunities.

One popular method is to find and enter awards relating to your industry. One benefit is that the award sponsor is eager to promote the awards. If you are able to be a finalist, or even win, this can be a boost of visibility and inbound links to your website. You can follow this with your own media outreach efforts.

Many awards are self-nominated. Magazines, for example, frequently do “best of” lists. Search for awards in your industry and amongst your peers. Enter many!

Use one or more of these inexpensive marketing tactics to build your business brand on a limited budget. Have more ideas? Share them in the comments.

 

About Katie McCaskey

Katie McCaskey is Content Director of OpenWater, a grant management software platform. Download free resources to learn how to establish and grow an awards program.   

10 Small Business Website Errors That Always Drive Customers Away

You have a shiny new website design, or a longstanding look you’re sure customers your love, so a profit boost is a guarantee, right?

Well, there are niggling little problems that can persist with even the most professional looking website. Here are 10 examples, how you can correct them, and keep more customers on-site.

  1. Confusion

It’s quite astonishing to arrive at a site and, despite reading over the content, really have little idea what the business does. Yet this is still worryingly common.

In your tagline, a snippet of copy usually less than 10 words, you should make what you do as clear as a bright sunny day. If you don’t, you could incur a major bounce rate problem, or a customer becoming frustrated before they’ve even been in touch with you.

Make sure this is right above the fold. Preferably the first thing visible when someone arrives on the site. So adorn the tagline/business explanation under your logo or brand name. Limiting confusion is a chance to limit wasted opportunities.

  1. Bad SEO

It’s also astonishing how many websites still aren’t setup correctly for basic SEO. At the very least, your homepage should have a properly filled out title tag and meta description.

In Google’s SERPs, this appears as what Google decides to add as your business description. That can lead to a garbled mass of data if you’ve not supplied any details.

Want to know how to update that with copy that’s meaningful? You can usually easily manage it from within your CMS. As a rule of thumb, your title tag should be no more than 60 characters, and your meta description circa 170 characters.

You can also find a free basic guide to SEO from Moz to help you take the next steps.

  1. Stock photography

In 2018, we should have moved beyond stock photography. Consumers are savvy these days, so the sight of what are clearly models grinning away in clearly stages images is a bit past it.

There are even free tools like Canva that allow you to create bespoke images and header designs for free. So stock images now only reek of laziness or being out of touch with the modern world.

  1. Dodgy pop-up ads

There’s the standard on-page arrival pop-up that’s universally reviled. But a new trend has crept in—the abandoning-page pop up ad. The latter is where the site detects someone is about to leave. The result is an enormous pop-up ad blocking their progress with a last ditch lead generation attempt.

Some businesses think these options are essential. But think carefully about them before choosing either. They can be highly frustrating and not conducive for strong customer relationship development in the long-term.

  1. Avoiding lead generation forms

One alternative solution to the above is a well-placed lead generation form. You don’t obstruct your visitors with this option, which is one user experience bonus.

You can also gain some essential customer information from even the most simplistic lead generation form. It could be for a subscription to your newsletter, for example. A simple form that has an email address entry section followed by a bright, eye-catching submit icon.

Once more people are on your newsletter list, you have more conversion opportunities.

  1. Slow page speeds

Unformatted images, lots of flashy new features, and various other gimmicks can lead to users arriving at your site with a severe lack of haste.

Impatience is high in the online world. Don’t expect potential customers to hang around if they have to wait 30 seconds for your website to catch up with them.

You can use Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool to find out how you’re doing for desktop and mobile. It’ll provide you with some optimisation suggestions as well, which can be handy.

A leading culprit is an image uploaded to your CMS without being optimised for size. If you’ve got several 10MB images sitting around on your homepage, for example, this isn’t good news. There are free converters you can use online, luckily, such as PicResize.

  1. Going design crazy

Simplicity works wonders in web design. As tempting as it is to hurl every available new technological wonder at your site, this can be overwhelming for all concerned.

Your web design should keep this in mind. An uncluttered, focussed look can draw customers to your core features, rather than leaving them befuddled.

  1. Leaving in dead ends

Make sure, at all times, there’s a home button somewhere for visitors to click on—it’s all part of a solid user journey.

If they work themselves through your sales funnel, but want to travel back at some stage, yet find they’re stranded online, that’s exceptionally frustrating. And they could well take their business elsewhere.

  1. Typos

It may seem pedantic, but if you’re reading through copy and it’s crammed full of fundamental errors in diction and grammar, it doesn’t reflect well on your business.

You don’t need to hire a copywriter or freelance writer to accomplish these tasks for you. There are free tools such as Hemingwayapp that you can paste copy into.

It points out common errors, such as your and you’re, overlong sentences, irrelevant words, and if you’re writing in passive voice. From there, you can update your content—all done in a matter of minutes.

  1. No responsive design

This is a big one, as Google now actively prefers websites that are mobile-friendly. With more and more customers using devices to do their shopping, if they’re using your website and it’s not adapting to their screen then you’ll likely have another bounce rate issue.

You can use this Mobile-Friendly Test from Google to see if you’re responsive. If not, you’ll have to take steps to rectify this. It may seem like a lot of effort for nothing, but the future of online business is mobile.  Author bio

Alistair Brown is the chief technical officer at BrightHR and helps to create HR management software for small businesses. The business consultant is based in Manchester city centre and caters primarily for SMEs.