Welcome to the final installment of a six-article series on starting your first business (SY1B). In this series, we cover a range of important topics that will help you get your first business up and running:
- How To Choose Your Business Name
- How To Handle Legal Business Formation
- How To Set Up Your Business Finances
- How To Develop Your Business Operations
- How To Build Your Workforce
- How To Market Your Business [You are here.]
The preceding installments on starting a business focused primarily on internal aspects. However, one of the most important business aspects that drives success is actually external—your customers.
When first starting a business, virtually no one knows who you are or what you offer. It’s up to you to change that with marketing. If you’re like most small business owners, you probably have a tight budget—that’s okay. You just need to ensure the marketing strategy for your small business startup includes affordable options.
Digital marketing will be your best bet. People are mainly connected through digital channels nowadays, so that’s where your marketing strategy should focus. That way, you can drive sales and generate leads efficiently instead of spending money on channels that provide less ROI.
So what kind of marketing ideas are best for your small business startup? Check out the list below, and see which ones could work for you.
8 Budget-Friendly Marketing Ideas
1. Build a business website.
One of your first to-do items should be to create a business website. You need a place for customers to learn more about you quickly and easily. You may need some web design help unless you have previous experience in that area, but there are plenty of affordable options to assist in building your online presence.
If you’re considering skipping this to-do, resist the urge! Over half (54%) of marketers surveyed in HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2018 report said growing traffic to their company’s website was a top marketing priority, second only to converting leads to customers.
A business website is a foundational part of your marketing efforts, as most of those efforts will bring potential customers back to your site. Then, you can take strides to drive conversions and revenue.
2. Create marketing collateral.
Never arrive empty-handed. While typically referring to social etiquette at parties or dinner gatherings, this saying is also applicable in the business world. When you show up to customers, whether it’s face to face or in their inbox, you need something relevant to give them. That’s where marketing collateral comes in—brochures, business cards, sales sheets, case studies, and so on.
You should always have some type of collateral to share that informs them about what you offer, furthers the relationship, or pushes them closer to a sale. When you’re just starting out, focusing on the basics like business cards and a brochure is fine. You can always create more collateral as you grow.
3. Promote your business on social media.
There are over 2.74 billion monthly active users on Facebook, and that’s a 12% increase year over year. Other social platforms are also flooded with active users who want to consume content for their enjoyment, edification, and a host of other reasons. Unless your potential customers are living under rocks, they’re likely a part of this large crowd.
Like other businesses that are already tapping into this active userbase with social media marketing, yours can too. For example, you can point your social media pages back to your website and increase traffic. Beyond website promotion, social media also offers the opportunity to get feedback from customers as you grow—customers tend to be quite honest about companies on social.
When considering what promotion ideas to explore, think about what your customers find interesting. Then tie those interests together with your brand to create unique social media campaigns.
4. Update online business listings.
Online directories provide listings of various businesses, including their name, contact information, and product and service offerings. Keeping your listing up to date is important for being found by customers; plus, you want them to perceive you as a relevant, trusted provider. With dozens of top directories available, you’ll need a helping hand to automate the process of publishing and updating your business listings.
5. Invest in digital ads.
Advertising and promotion can easily be the most expensive of the marketing ideas on this list, but it’s still an essential part of your marketing strategy. Keep in mind that you don’t have to spend a lot of money. When done right, digital advertising can net you a sizable ROI without breaking the bank.
You can take advantage of digital ads across multiple channels. For example, you can use Google ads to promote your business or specific products on Google’s search results page. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest also give you the means to advertise. Of course, which social platforms you choose will depend on your business and what you sell.
6. Use email marketing.
As promotion ideas go, email marketing is quite affordable and effective. Many small and medium-sized businesses (81%) rely on email as their primary mode of customer acquisition. Also, most email marketing solutions offer free versions with limited functionality or a maximum number of recipients.
Your email campaigns can range from newsletters to sale announcements—whatever your audience responds well to and works for your business. For great ideas, pay attention to your own inbox. You likely already receive a ton of emails from different companies you’ve signed up with or purchased from over the years. What type of emails have you found exciting or inspired you to take action? Evaluate those and apply what you learn to your own customers, considering your customers’ unique characteristics.
Lastly, while email marketing can help build relationships with customers over time, you ultimately want them to take action and move closer to the sale. To this end, you can incorporate specific landing pages as part of your email campaigns and focus on website conversions. For example, you may have recipients opt-in to receive a particular buyer’s guide and further qualify them as a lead or send them directly to a product page to encourage a purchase.
7. Start blogging.
Did you know that companies with blogs produce 67% more leads per month than those without one? Blogs hold power to boost traffic to your business website. And if you take search engine optimization (SEO) strategy seriously—making sure to tie blog posts in with your offering and target audience—that traffic is more likely to include potential customers.
8. Network and spread the word about your business.
Even in this digital-centric world, word of mouth still holds a key place in your marketing strategy, especially in the beginning. Talk about your business whenever you have a chance—with friends and family, at dinner parties, while attending trade shows and conferences, and so on.
If you work with any vendors, you can even ask them to spread the word about your business. Perhaps they have other clients who might benefit from your products and services, or maybe they might be inclined to buy from you. Don’t be afraid to speak up about your passion-turned-business.
Navigating Your First Small Business Startup
Thinking about starting your first business can be overwhelming. Every entrepreneur has been there at some point, and each one would tell you that sometimes you just have to take that first step and get started.
We produced the SY1B series to give new entrepreneurs like you a detailed walkthrough of the major areas you’ll need to address as you transition into business ownership. By having a clear path forward, we hope that the first step is a bit easier.
We also want to make sure you have the right resources to help you along the way. That’s why we created Business Maker. Use it to easily choose a business entity, create your business plan, build your online presence, market your products and services, track your finances, and more. As a would-be business owner, you have a lot of questions. Business Maker gives you the answers you need to get up and running quickly and eventually turn your small business startup into a streamlined organization. Try it today.