Over the years, I’ve encountered so many business owners (and employees) who mistakenly believe that effective marketing requires a substantial marketing budget. I’m happy to tell you that simply isn’t true. Thanks in large part to the internet and in more recent years, social media networking sites, there are dozens of inexpensive and even free ways to get your business’ name, products and services in front of hundreds and even thousands of people on a consistent basis. Let’s look at three ways that will get you started—social media, organic SEO and happy hours.
Without a doubt, social media has changed the way the world communicates, and if you aren’t at least somewhat familiar with social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Snapchat, then I’d love to know where you live. While many businesses are currently using social media for marketing purposes, not everyone fully understands the difference between organic (free) social media, and what’s known as “pay-to-play” or “boosting.”
Organic social media is more about doing what you’re probably already doing with friends and family: engaging updates, cute pictures and sharing information once or twice a day. Staying in front of customers this way with similar posts about your business is key. But you can also take it a step further by “boosting” higher-performing posts. On your Facebook business page, this can be done simply by clicking the blue “Boost Post” button in the lower right-hand corner of a post and set your budget. Let’s say you post 60 posts and get around 100 likes for each one. But then, a particular post gets 300 likes. That would be the one you’d want to “boost” to get it in front of a bigger demographic of your choosing. You could spend your $100 on one popular post, or consider breaking it into two posts for $50 each.
Pay-per-click campaigns such as Google Ad Words allow you to advertise online with a budget that you set in advance. But you don't have to spend a lot of money to take advantage of its keyword tool. This feature allows you to determine the keywords that potential customers use to find business websites like yours.
You'll need to first set up a Google Ad Words account, but what you choose to spend is entirely up to you. Once you've determined relevant keywords, you can integrate them into your web pages verbatim, as long as they flow with your existing content. You can also add videos that reflect those keywords (e.g., "best anti-aging facial") as well as links to other health and beauty websites and your social media pages. All of this can be done at no or little cost. But if you find that you're getting a lot of responses/visits to particular web pages or keywords, you can set up a Google Ad Words campaign reflecting those keywords for as little as a few dollars per day. If you set a $100/month budget at $1/per click, that gives you about 100 visitors. The idea is to first test your keywords organically to see what signs of life you might get from them, before you invest in pay-per-click.
This is one of the easiest, most affordable and most enjoyable marketing tools out there. Invite 10-12 friends (or their friends) to an after-work demonstration of a service you wish to promote. Be sure to include giveaway prizes and, in this scenario, $100 worth of good food and drinks. You can contact your vendor(s) to request free products (prizes) in exchange for promoting their company. Heck, you can even ask your vendor(s) to help pay for the food and drink—maybe they'll pay for all of it or half, but many are happy to help for free advertising. Make it all about having a fun time and educating your guests on your products and services. When they leave, ask them to post how much fun they had on social media (bonus referrals!).
You don't need fancy advertising materials or a big marketing budget to make a big impression on potential customers. Use your creativity and the internet to really get your name out there!
Top Tips for Marketing Your Business for Less than $100
1. Presentation. When hosting a happy hour, remember that presentation is everything—but don't spend money worrying about it. Ask friends if you can borrow pretty trays, add some greenery from your backyard and throw in inexpensive candles, which always make everything look like you went to extra effort.
2. Research. Before spending money on a pay-per-click campaign such as Google Ad Words, perform searches using keywords relevant to your business. See what keywords pop up in your competitors’ ads and also, how they've written the text in their ads.
3. Ask for testimonials. Always ask happy clients to post on your behalf on social media. It costs nothing, and a raving testimonial can be priceless when it comes to referrals.