Marketing Your Small Business on a Shoestring Budget

Marketing Your Small Business on a Shoestring Budget

New business comes into existence in one of two ways, either with sufficient startup capital or on a shoestring budget. This article is aimed at the low-budget startup business that is typically formed by a skilled entrepreneur going into business to offer freelance services of one sort or another.

There are many ways to market a new business and most of them are expensive. Advertising can take on many forms and is often hard to evaluate for effectiveness. Ask any ad sales executive what the best approach is and they will explain it is the current ad product they are selling, but that is not always best for every business.

Low Overhead

Keeping expenses low will often be the single decision that allows a business to succeed during the critical startup years. Spending money on advertising will seem to be a great way to improve income to those who are anxiously awaiting a steady stream of clients, but the fact remains that it is still an expense.

By using low cost marketing techniques that are available to nearly any business in almost every industry, new business owners can easily multiply their chances of staying in business long enough to show a profit. These techniques require time and effort to work, but the payout is long term and worth the investment.

The Key to Marketing

The real key to a successful marketing campaign is not the number of people who happen to see or hear the ads, it is the number of people that become new customers. By focusing on likely clients and targeting specific marketing materials to them, costs can be reduced to pennies on the dollar compared to typical advertising campaigns, and results can be amazing.

Good New Business

By utilizing word of mouth referral advertising, satisfied customers tell their friends and neighbors about how much they liked a particular service or a low price, or that they trust a business to do right by them. These referrals are a natural part of working an honest business model where the customer gets treated fairly and the services are done professionally.

New customers that are referred by people they trust will not often shop around or pay any attention to the ads they see or hear. They are already convinced that the new business is where they want to go, and they will keep coming back until something happens to spoil the relationship. These are very valuable customers that often remain loyal for long periods.

Bad New Business

If a potential customer sees an ad on TV, or hears an ad on the radio, or reads an ad in the newspaper, they will not have much loyalty to the business if they do become a customer. They will still be watching TV, listening to the radio, and reading the newspaper, looking for the next ad for their next purchase.

These clients are not sold on the company based upon the ads, but are willing to give the company a try based upon the prices or services advertised. They are skeptical clients and will be hard to satisfy, and they often are bargain hunters who will not be long term repeat customers without long term repeat advertising to draw them in.

Back to the Basics

The basics in business are professional service, reasonable prices, and a clear customer satisfaction program that always strives to make every client as satisfied as possible, even if it takes losing a little money on one client from time to time. This is often referred to as “The customer is always right.”

Handing out business cards and printed flyers to every customer is a great way to let them know what other services and products a business offers. Asking for referrals or reminding customers that a business is new and in need of more clients is also a good way to drum up additional business.

It is also important to carry business cards in places that are not associated with business, such as when grocery shopping or running errands. Hand them out to anyone who will take one, explaining that the business is new and accepting customers. Become a walking sales pitch for the new business and spread the word the old fashioned way.

When advertising, stick to very low budget ads such as classified ads or website promotion. Use techniques that offer a lasting return on investment and continue to pay for themselves year after year. For example, have signs made instead of running professionally created ad campaigns.

The Long Run

In the long run the advertising that is done one on one is far better than the commercial ads typically seen in the mainstream media. The key is in building relationships, and that often starts with a handshake and a business card. No amount of advertising can replace that.