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.
- 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.