Marketing is something all small business owners need to understand. It is fundamental in letting customers know about your product or service. Many people, particularly sole proprietors starting out, don’t have much of a budget for this purpose and also don’t feel like they have the money to spare specifically for a marketing budget. You may feel as though that is something for bigger companies to worry about and that you can do without it.
However, this is simply not true. The hard fact of the matter is: anyone in business for themselves needs to have a marketing budget, or they won’t remain in business for very long. You need to be in control of your brand and how customers see you and find out about you. While you may not want to spend the money, you need to in order to give your business the best chance of succeeding.
When tackling this question for the first time, you will likely wonder how you can make the most impact with the budget you do have. Your budget does not have to be massive. Maybe even only $100 per month or quarter. But you do need to have it and spend it in the most effective ways. Here are three suggestions I have for those of you getting started:
#1: Social Media
There are some areas where you should really focus, no matter your industry. The first is social media, specifically something like Facebook advertising. Facebook advertising is a great way for people who have never done advertising before to step into it. The big upside is complete control of cost. You determine how much you want to spend on advertising per day and the costs will not exceed that (perfect for a small marketing budget). It’s great for new product launches or for targeting local demographics in the hope they will come to your event.
The other major advantage of Facebook advertising is the ease at which you can select your exact target demographic. Facebook has already collected information on each user’s habits and can leverage that to display your ads to the people most likely to be interested in them. This makes Facebook advertising an ideal way for mompreneurs to learn how to reach their target demographic.
#2: Event Participation
The second area is participating in various promotional opportunities. This can be tricky because many of these events or TV spots that are well-regarded and have massive reach. But they can cost significant amounts of money – $3,500 or more just to participate. Is it worth paying to be a part of something like that, especially if it is a large portion of your marketing budget? The answer is, of course, that it depends. It is not uncommon for new entrepreneurs to be approached with numerous opportunities like this that ask you to spend money.
The real question you must ask yourself is whether you will really get $3,500 worth in advertising from these opportunities. You can evaluate this by looking at the reality versus the potential. Don’t let someone sell you on the potential. Focus on whether or not such opportunities put you directly in the line of sight of your ideal client. If it does not, you must move on.
For example, if you know a TV program that wants to feature you is heavily watched by retired individuals, and retirees are your main demographic, it might be the perfect decision to pursue that opportunity. It’s easy to get starstruck by being on TV, but if your target demographic is young professionals and the TV program is largely watched by retired individuals, it’s not going to help you sell more of your product or service. Don’t waste advertising dollars on the wrong target audience. Instead, only consider opportunities that put you directly in front of the demographic you are ideally targeting with your product.
#3: Printed Promotional Material
A third thing to do is go out into your community and participate in or host events. For example, there might be a 5k or 10k race in town for which you are going to be a sponsor. This can mean you have a booth at the end where you get to hand out a swag bag, coupons, flyers and other things of the sort. Anytime you are out in the community, you need to have some sort of printed promotional material for your business. This should be passed out to anyone.
This material needs to have some sort of offer on it, in order to entice people to give your product a try. Four-by-six inch postcards are a great option for this because you can get so many of them for a very cheap price from sources like Vistaprint, as well as fit a lot of information on them. You can also handwrite a special date or offer on the back of them to customize them for whatever promotion you are doing at the time. Because they are cheap and easy to have on your person to hand out at any time, they are a great way to get your brand out there and keep it on top of mind.
These are just three of the ideas I know work well, and I know how good marketing budget decisions are key to running a successful business, no matter how big or small. I talk a lot about marketing on this blog and on my podcast, so check those resources out too. If you are unsure how best to utilize your budget, or have had limited success, I can help.
Coaching mompreneurs is my passion, so contact me today for your free discovery session if you would like coaching on how to manage a small business advertising budget.