It’s no secret that money is tight in these trying times. Everyone is trying to figure out a way to cut costs and save while still keep the essentials that are needed to get by on a daily basis (and that’s just for the average Joe). Companies experience this tenfold, especially when the money they spend starts to exceed their revenue.
But now we’ve run into a problem: to generate more revenue we have to spend more money, which is becoming scarce. Now the economic situation has forced some companies to make difficult decisions, such as layoffs and wage-cuts, in the worst-case scenario. All of these unfortunate events could have been avoided with some clever, budget-conscious marketing skills. Here are a few of the most popular ways companies can market on a budget to generate new customers and revenue:
Word of Mouth: Promote, Promote, Promote!
Word-of-mouth advertising is quite possibly the oldest and easiest way to market your company. This tried-and-true technique is a classic that is sure to work if you take the time to implement it. Nothing works better than a personal reference! For instance, let’s say I’m considering trying out that new pizza place down the block. If someone I know personally recommends and swears by it, then you can pretty much guarantee that’s where I’m going for dinner! Whether you ask existing customers (which should be your first option, if possible) or established employees (making it their mission to go out and physically interact with customers and promote the company), nothing spreads better and faster than word of mouth.
Remember, though: the better the service offered and the more genuine interaction the company provides, the more recommendations a customer is willing to give out. Refer friends, family, the coffee shop you go to every morning, and the grocery store clerk you see every night. You never know a person’s situation or how much they may need your service. Besides, even if they don’t, they might know someone who does. Offer incentives for referring some potential new customers, such as a month of free service, a dinner or spa certificate, or cash…anything that that’ll give them incentive to go out and refer! So get out there, recommend, refer, and then repeat.
In this day and age, pretty much everyone has an email address or some form of Internet (whether it is directly or indirectly). The beauty of email is that it’s completely FREE! It doesn’t cost you one dime to sit down and type out an email. If for some reason your company doesn’t have Internet or you’re just starting out, then go to a public library! With pretty much every place in the world being a hot spot, you can access the Internet anywhere. All you need is an email address and imagination! Customers will love the convenience of accessing the latest and greatest with your company in one convenient e-newsletter campaign.
A few helpful tips regarding this strategy: 1) Make sure that your email is not too convoluted with text or too oversaturated with pictures and graphics. 2) Make sure that you check your spelling and grammar so that your customers and potential customers don’t confuse it with spam. 3) Make sure that you always offer clients the option to unsubscribe. Nothing’s worse than getting signed up for something you never requested and not being able to take yourself off the list. Give clients and customers the option to be contacted for new sales, promotions, exciting changes, and upgrades that will affect them. 4) As a sign of good faith, offer gifts and prizes. They don’t have to be extravagant, but try to give something extra that says “thank you, we appreciate your business.” Free trial subscriptions are an excellent example of this (1 month, 3 months, etc.) because it gives your company an opportunity to showcase your skills. Show the customer just how great your services are and how easy and pleasant it is to work with your company. Nothing beats a great first impression to make people come back for more!
Business Cards: Still Alive and Kicking!
Now I know this might seem a little outdated to some, especially since I just mentioned the “new age” method of email. Business cards are an old classic that will always be useful. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been searching through my purse and find a business card I stuck in there because I remembered that pressing task or project I needed to get done. Or, another situation I run into is when someone admires something that I had done, whether it is my hair, my new floors, or great yard landscaping, and now they want to know who did it, how much it cost, and how can they get in contact with them. Nothing is better than being able to whip out a business card and BAM: here’s the name of the company, the phone number, the website, and the contact name you used.Let them know an existing customer referred you (which can also aid in the customer referral program you created), and now your customers have doubled.
And fear not, because business cards are an extremely inexpensive marketing tool. If you’re looking for a giveaway that’s a bit more creative, there are plenty of budget promotional products out there that’ll get the word out. Heck, even magnetic business cards are on the cheap side (approximately $150 for 1,000 full-color cards) and they’ll stick around for a lot longer! Now think, with deals like this, imagine the potential client base you can reach.
Social Networking: Networking for the New Age!
I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I can’t stress how important social networking is to a new or existing company. It is a way to expand your brand in droves and it’s completely FREE! Like my fellow QLPer Sam mentioned, it’s not always about who you know, but about who knows you! It doesn’t cost you a dime to set up a Facebook page, a Facebook fan page, a Google Plus (+), or a Twitter account. Currently, these seem to be the biggest forms of social networking. By creating this avenue you’re giving your customers instant and easy access to communicate with your company. You can advertise new and exciting deals and terms, future plans, and anything else you decide. It also provides a forum for customers and clients alike to voice concerns or praises about your company. Not to mention, it’s a free way to shamelessly promote yourself and your company (and make you more personable to your target market base).
Social media also helps your customers shamelessly promote your company and services. Nothing helps gain recognition faster than a famous or popular endorsement on Facebook or Twitter. Just be aware that if you go this route, you have to be able to respond to feedback in a timely manner. Nothing’s worse than giving your customers an easy avenue to reach you and then making them feel ignored. Make sure you have someone who constantly monitors your pages on a daily basis, or at least set up a series of notifications to be alerted when people reach out to you. That way, your audience can not only feel important that you genuinely take their comments to heart, but also showcase your great customer service skills to quickly address and resolve any potential issues.
There are a million ways to market on a tight budget, but you have to be aware of the resources available to you and make sure you do your research. After that, it’s all about creativity and imagination, and the success from that is endless!
Have you used any of these budget marketing techniques? Do you have any more creative advertising solutions for frugal companies?