By Jason Chow
Jumping into the world of online selling or eCommerce is not easy, especially if you’re a small business owner. From choosing a web host to creating content for your blog, there is a lot of cost and effort involved in this industry.
One aspect of your small business that you can’t ignore is marketing. A good marketing strategy is a must if you want people to know about your business and your website. The problem is, a lot of the marketing solutions provided online can be expensive and will blow your limited budget.
But here’s the thing, with the internet, there are more ways than ever for you to employ low-cost marketing methods that are not only effective but will also give you substantial ROI.
So, if you’re on a shoestring budget for your small business, read on to learn about the 10 essential and inexpensive marketing tips that you can use.
1. The power of social media
Creating an account on popular social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) should be at the top of your marketing to-do list. The great thing about social media is that you can be flexible in the way you want to invest in it.
While bigger brands and businesses will opt to pay for advertising on social media platforms, you can use social media in a number of inexpensive ways to build up your customer base and ask them to leave a review on your page. This will then encourage potential customers to check out your product based on the praises from your current customers.
Another way to use social media for your small business is to engage with your audience by posting content that will encourage people to buy from your business. You can post photos of new products, giveaways, events, and so much more.
2. Create a really good website
It goes without saying that every business today, big or small, needs to have a website. A website not only serves as a digital storefront for your products or services but also as a hub for people looking for more information about your business.
You can put basic information about your products and services, testimonials from your customers, store location, and more on your website. Another important reason for having a website is that it improves your visibility on search engine platforms such as Google.
Your website can also be used to connect with your audience by sharing your company’s visions and ideas such as to support green web hosting to help the environment.
I learned how to build affiliate marketing websites which led me to find out about this software platform called MagCast that allowed you to publish your own magazine and I thought it was a brilliant idea. I had no expectation or intent to create a startup or anything massive, it was literally just a side hobby passion project.
3. Develop business partnerships
As a small business, you shouldn’t be afraid to develop partnerships with people in the industry (as long as they are not direct competitors). Partners can be both online (webinars, promotional giveaways, etc.) and offline (special events) to promote your business.
The great thing about partnerships with another small business is that it doubles your audiences. If you partner with an industry-relevant business, you’ll get access to a new audience who are related to your niche.
It’s a great method to market your small business to bigger audiences without having to spend a lot of money on traditional marketing tools such as billboard advertising or radio ads.
4. Head to Reddit and forums
Finding your audience on forums and Reddit can be a bit tricky as they tend to be quite resistant to typical marketing tactics. However, if you’re able to make your mark in these platforms, then you’ll have a loyal user base that will continually support your business.
Since joining forums or Reddit is free, there’s no overhead cost. The important thing you need to remember is that content posted on these platforms has to be super awesome, and they need to appeal to extreme niches.
5. Blog to build an audience
Creating a blog for your business is a fairly inexpensive endeavor and it is a tool to grow your business. eCommerce platforms such as BigCommerce and Shopify often include built-in blogging features that you can easily integrate into your website.
Even if you don’t use any of those platforms, you can easily create a blog using WordPress. The advantage of having a blog is that you can use it to create a bigger market for your products or services by sharing content that is valuable to your potential consumers.
6. Connect with Linkedin
Often, smaller companies and businesses overlook the benefits of LinkedIn as a social media site and it ends up being underutilized. You can do more on Linkedin than just adding network connections and updating your company page.
Join industry specific groups, participate in conversations with important connections, and share your blog posts; this will help market your business to a wider audience and create potential business partnerships.
Plus, there are plenty of events happening on LinkedIn which makes it a great place for you to promote your content, share ideas, and build up your brand recognition.
LinkedIn for business allows you to build credibility, create a meaningful network, and glean insider expertise from established experts in your industry. It's a valuable tool in your social marketing arsenal, so make sure you're using every opportunity it provides.
7. Offer coupons and goodies
A great way to attract new customers is to offer coupons and goodies. Studies have shown that people are more likely to spend when they are offered coupons or goodies for your products and services.
It’s a great tool to expand your customer base and generate a return visit as customers are more likely to come back if they have a coupon for a discount to use in the future. The trick is to not overuse it as it can devalue your brand and the products or services that you offer.
8. Host webinars, free courses, or events
If you are an expert or an industry leader in your market, then you can create brand awareness by hosting events, webinars, or even offer free online courses.
There are many people who love to learn new things so offering courses related to your products and services can be a great way to introduce your brand and attract potential customers.
There are numerous tools and plugins available online that you can use to conduct small online courses or even host huge webinars that can be streamed to thousands of people.
9. Join groups and collaborate
Joining groups that are related to your industry can be an effective way to promote your business. Not only can you use this to reach audiences that are interested in your products and services, you can also look for potential people or non-competitive businesses to collaborate with and expand your reach.
With potential collaborations, you can offer them reciprocal website links, affiliate marketing, or even cross-promotion on social media platforms. By collaborating with each other, you have more opportunities to create quality content that relates back to your business and reach out to a bigger audience.
10. Run online contests
When it comes to running an online contest, you might have to cough up a bit of cash for the prizes. However, it’s definitely worth it for all the potential leads that you will get from it.
If you’re really tight on budget, you can opt for prizes that are not super expensive, such as a couple of high-end water bottles, fancy backpacks, or even some good quality t-shirts with your brand’s logo.
You can use platforms such as Rafflecopter to help set up your contest and even embed the contest form on your website in a super easy way.
So, there you have it. 10 marketing tips that are essential yet inexpensive that you can use for your business. Are there any that we missed out? Let us know in the comments!