Is it possible to effectively market yourself on a budget?
Despite there being a slight conflict of interest due to my role as a marketing consultant, the honest answer is yes - to an extent. Often the biggest marketing investment, particularly at the beginning, will be your time.
There are lots of things you can do inexpensively and even free - template websites, for example, makes life easy for small businesses to get going. I’ve highlighted the top five things I believe organisations should look to do as a starting point for their marketing (which is by no means exhaustive).
Take an objective look at your website
The challenge with people creating their own websites is that they focus it on what they think is important and navigation they think makes sense, rather than what makes sense to the user. In order to really make the most of your website - which after all is your virtual shop window - is to get someone objective to look at it. Preferably someone who a) knows your target audience, b) something about marketing and c) can be honest with you.
Take constructive criticism
Ask, ask, ask for feedback and constructive criticism and really take note of what people are saying, even if you’re not in a position to do anything about it at the time. People like to feel appreciated and asking, and then listening, to your friends, colleagues and acquaintances will really make a difference. A challenge I personally have in marketing is that people ask you for advice but they often don’t want to take it once it’s offered. Be open to change. Change is good.
Look at your language
Your tone of voice, grammar and spelling are so important in marketing. Take a read through your content - or get someone else to help - and ensure it is consistent. Also appreciate that content may need to be tweaked when addressing different audiences (for example, your Twitter page and your company LinkedIn page).
Only use social media channels if you are able to properly commit to them
Being on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn is all well and good but unless you can commit to submitting interesting and regular content, there’s little point. Also, think about whether you can divide content up a bit - i.e. use Facebook as a more informal channel.
Look at indirect routes to market
Although your key focus is naturally going to be customers, you will also want to look at ways of contacting these people indirectly - e.g. if you’re selling flowers, could you look to be on the preferred supplier list for wedding venues.