Marketing Basics for a Small Budget
Whether you have $1.5 million or $0.00 to spend on marketing, the end goal is the same: more revenue from your sales to your business. In this article, we talk about strategies that work without a huge budget, but can be scaled up over time.
Keep in mind whether your time or your money is more valuable to you. If you don’t have excess revenue to put into marketing right now, that’s understandable, but know that your time will be used instead. It’s possible to grow your marketing with no money, it just takes time. By putting in the time, you will see a return on your investment.
Once you have a good handle on the aspects of marketing you can do yourself, you can start looking at other avenues where an agency may help. By knowing what you can do and what you don’t want to do, you know exactly what you want out of an agency.
Marketing Relative to Company Size
A lot of companies, regardless of size, have small marketing departments. There are multi-million dollar companies with two or three people dedicated to marketing, and there are smaller companies with more people.
When you start your marketing plan, get an understanding of the skills your team has. If your team has skills you can use, you save the cost of hiring an outside firm or a freelancer to do those things. The people in your business know it better than people you bring on, and produce quality content.
Be aware of people’s skill sets, and also be aware of the last time they used those skill sets. If someone knows graphic design but hasn’t done it in 15 years, their style may be out of date. Make sure you’re getting quality work in a reasonable amount of time, or it may be better to go with outside assistance.
Budgeting and Hiring From Outside to do Marketing
If you have no money to spend on marketing, you’re not looking to hire a marketing firm to handle everything. Once you get started doing the marketing, however, you should know the services a firm can provide, and what the cost is.
The traditional marketing agency costs $20,000-$40,000 a year to handle various marketing efforts. That may sound like a lot, but they have analytics behind their marketing and they know which tactics work best. You can’t do everything yourself, unless you have training in marketing, web development, social media marketing, etc. You can get by on your own for a while, there’s no doubt, but an agency brings more to the table once you’re further down the road.
To determine spending for marketing, first determine your marketing goals. A lot of agencies say marketing spend should be a certain percentage of annual revenue, but it only needs to line up with your marketing goals. If your goal is a lot of growth in a short amount of time, your marketing spend is a lot higher than for moderate growth over a longer period of time. By picking one marketing objective to focus on, you can see your growth and whether your marketing efforts work.
Know the goals of your marketing before starting. Take some time and really think it over. Do you want to create more brand awareness of your company? Get higher-budget clients? Increase revenue 150% over the next year? If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, it’s harder to know if your marketing works.
Marketing Aspects to Focus on First
There are a lot of aspects of marketing, and they all matter in terms of increasing brand awareness and creating interest i the business. However, a few things are vital to your company making a good impression on any potential clients. Those things need to be fixed first, if there’s any issues with them.
Website and User Interface
The most important aspect to do well is your website. Your website is your main hub, the place where people searching for your company come to learn more about you. Neglecting your website is not an option – it needs to look modern, polished, and put together with some amount of care.
A bad website, one that is confusing, or ugly, or has no information, makes people think you don’t care. Anyone visiting your site gets turned off if it’s a bad website. They see you not taking care of an important aspect of your business, and wonder what else you’re neglecting.
Creating a whole new website isn’t cheap, and unless you know web design, you should hire someone to do it for you. If you need a new website, you really need a new one, and ignoring the problem isn’t an answer. Start allocating funds now, even if you don’t have the budget to get a new site at this second.
A new website should cost, at a minimum, $20,000. Can you get it done for cheaper than that? Absolutely. Should you? No. Freelancers or really small agencies can build a site for five or ten thousand dollars, but it wouldn’t be great. Your website is the main way potential customers interact with your business, so you need it to be great. If you’re going to invest money in it, you might as well have it done really well.
We talked about SEO optimization before, check out our article on SEO basics here for a more in-depth guide on optimizing. SEO is a long term play – the best time to perfect your SEO is three years ago. The second best time to start on your SEO is right now. Have an SEO audit done for your website, most agencies will do one for free. They’ll tell you if anything is seriously wrong or needs to change, most websites usually have quite a few things that could be done better.
Most agencies building you a website don’t talk about SEO, or don’t optimize if the best for your company. If they don’t know your industry, they aren’t able to make the SEO right for what you’re looking for.
Pages may look fine, but if the SEO is bad traffic won’t be coming to your page like it should be. If your site is out there for years with bad SEO, you may not even know for a while. Even once you’ve fixed the SEO, it could be six or nine months before the site really starts ranking properly and you see results.
So get your SEO looked at, and make sure it gets fixed if it’s not optimized. Some of the tweaking you can do yourself with tutorials, but once you have a good website, have someone look to make sure the SEO is good.
Social Media Marketing with No Budget
The three main social media players you should be interested in are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. If you’re a B2B company, you really only need to focus on LinkedIn. Twitter isn’t as relevant and it’s not great for getting any traction, it’s too noisy. Getting a lot of engagement on Twitter is not worth the amount of work you have to put in, so we suggest not bothering.
LinkedIn and Instagram are the two major social media platforms for B2B social media. Facebook works much the same as LinkedIn, but you’re able to focus down to the people you want to share your content with less. If you’re running just LinkedIn and Instagram, you will see it’s a lot of work needed to make an impact.
You can pay someone to handle your social media for you, but it is cheaper to do yourself. If you can’t afford or don’t want to pay someone to handle your social media, you need to work on it yourself. You can’t say you’re too busy or you don’t know how, because it needs to be done. Even if you have to scale back the amount of time you’re posting, it should be getting done.
LinkedIn Social Media Marketing
For LinkedIn, post daily. Sign up for a program with scheduling tools and analytics, most are free for the first few months (or if you have under a certain number of profiles attached) . Schedule posts to go out every day, use the tools to determine the best time for posting. Don’t post only your own content, use other articles and things from people in your industry. Have everyone at your company like and share company posts.
Build up your personal connections on LinkedIn. Don’t just focus on the company page, but on yours as well. You sharing and liking things from the company page creates more awareness, since everyone you connect with can see those. See our article on building up your LinkedIn presence for more information on the best way to grow your social media influence.
Instagram Social Media Marketing
On Instagram, post at least once a day, and more if you can. You want 15-20 hashtags on every post at a minimum, and they should be relevant to the post. Like Twitter, you get a lot of instant followers when you post but they drop off after a day or two. This happens because bots follow certain tags for the quick follow back. You will gain a steady number of followers as you build it up, and get a lot of brand awareness through Instagram.
Content Marketing with No Budget
To do content marketing, first determine what you’re good at, and what you like doing. That’s your content. If you’re a good writer, you should be writing articles. If you’re good with videos, you should make videos. Figure out what kind of content you can produce, and start doing it.
Your company should make content and post it regularly, to every platform. Use the right tags, have everyone at the company like and share, and make sure your content has all the help you can give it. Once you’re posting content regularly, you’ll see an uptick of followers and interactions.
If you have the money to spend, you can pay someone to create content for you. If you don’t, you have to do it yourself. You can split the difference and hire someone to write one article a quarter and make the rest of the content yourself, if you want. The main thing to keep in mind is that you should be posting your own content regularly, no matter who creates it.
Purchasing Advertising and PPC Ads
There are lots of different ways to buy ads, and a lot of things you can do to try to get the best option for your business. Looking at the basics there’s Google AdWords, and then social media advertising.
Google AdWords is likely the cheapest option for PPC (pay per click). It’ll be a minimum of 20, 40, 60 cents a click. If you’re going crazy and refining your search phrases it can get up to $30-40 a click for really competitive search phrases. For the most part, you should be in the range of a few bucks a click.
If you’re a B2B service, you will probably get the most bang for your buck with LinkedIn advertising. You can get very focused in and narrow down the number of people who will see your ad, in exactly the right industries. LinkedIn is expensive, however, so make sure you’re aware of what your spend will be. LinkedIn knows they have you because they’re the only place where you can narrow down and say ‘I want only CEOs and CFOs of these 100 companies to see this ad’ and have it be accurate, because they’re the only social media site that really can track that. Facebook can track things like activity, but not job title and industry, not like LinkedIn.
For advertising, you don’t need to put a lot of money into it. We recommend to a lot of our clients they stay away from it altogether, unless they’re really focused on paying for the ad space. Getting organic traffic costs about the same, if you factor in time spent, and works better long term. If you do want to do ads, Google AdWords is the cheapest option and a good idea to get your feet wet.
Where to go From Here
We’ve covered a few of the basics, things you really need to focus on when you’re getting started, and things you can do for little to no money. If you’re just starting out or looking for new ways to scale your efforts, we hope you found some tips to help you.