10 Money Saving Marketing Tactics for Small Businesses

Most small businesses have to scrutinize every expense and, when you think about the time, energy and money required, the total cost of marketing campaigns can be daunting. But owners realize that marketing is necessary to increase sales and boost profits. The good news is that you can spread the word about your business in a smart and cost-effective way. Setting marketing priorities is the key to making the most of small business budgets and time management.

Here are 10 tactics to try that will save you money.

1. Become an expert. Your website should be the place where prospects and customers can find the answers they need related to your products and the industry. Give advice, post good articles and report on industry trends. By keeping people coming back, you increase the chances prospects will think of you rather than a competitor when they have a need for your offering. Best of all, you don’t have to spend money to be an expert in your field.

Make sure visitors can find you by using terms on your website that are relevant and important to your business and submit your sitemap to all the major search engines and online business directories. Another way to make your expertise visible is to pitch local newspaper, television and radio reporters with the topics you can handle and questions you can answer, especially if you can relate them to current events. For example, if a marathon is taking place in your town and you run an exercise studio, offer training tips for race participants.Jensens Floating Ad

2. Practice content marketing. Straight advertising–whether on TV, radio, or in newspapers, magazines or websites—is expensive and often requires a commitment over time to achieve results (most people need to see and hear a message three to seven times before they will buy). A better approach for small businesses is to use content marketing: creating and sharing valuable information and insight that engages prospective customers and makes them aware of your products. This is much more effective than targeting everyone with a general message. If you had a plumbing business, one idea would be to write a series of how-to articles to fix simple home problems and promote them in emails with links to your website so those interested can download the content and you can track success. By investing a little time, you can a loyal following.

3. Focus on your target market. It is actually better to think small, rather than big with marketing campaigns. A few perfectly chosen words are more compelling than several paragraphs. And the more narrow your audience, the less you’ll spend in print, on air or online to advertise. Furthermore, niche media channels tend to cost much less. Ask yourself how the people in your target market access information and where do they hang out? It is easier to do this when you imagine them as individuals and get as detailed as possible about how they investigate and buy what you sell, so you can think about which channels will reach them. In other words, if you want to reach young professionals about the edgy fashion at your boutique, placing a print ad in the local newspaper is not likely to work when they probably get their news from their smartphones or news websites.

Mobile Ad Black Friday

4. Clean up your lists. Remove changed addresses, inactive customers and returned mail to reduce the cost of staying in touch with your prospects. The U.S. Postal Service will cleanse your mailing list free; correcting addresses, noting incomplete addresses and adding ZIP+4 numbers so you’ll be eligible for bar-code discounts. However you get it done, remember the mail that doesn’t reach your prospects is wasted money. It’s also a good practice to remove non-responders and marginal prospects from your database.

5. Use email. Through email newsletters, you can keep your customer base aware of new items or discounted services with a return on investment that is typically much higher than other forms of advertising. Services like Constant Contact and MailChimp can be very cost-effective.

Mango Email Blast

6. Leverage social media. Users of social media have the ability to pass along recommendations and reviews to a wide circle of contacts. Research vocal individuals or super users who cover your industry or are respected for their opinions. Offer them free products and services. Positive buzz from these folks will help you get attention quickly for a small investment. Of course, you should make it easy for them to Like and share your website, product images and descriptions. Furthermore, it should be a standard practice that, whenever you get compliments from customers, you ask them if they would be willing to provide a testimonial.

Find newsgroups tapped by your audience and join in—it only costs time. Include your website in your signature but don’t do any over selling because most groups frown on this. Instead, provide useful information.

Starbucks Facebook

7. Crosspromote. Whenever you are advertising or promoting a product, mention one or more that complements it to cross- or upsell your customers. You can also piggyback your advertising by including promotional material in other mailings such as invoices to save postage and other costs. Some businesses put coupons, newsletters or flyers in bags with their customers’ purchases.

8. Join associations. By joining trade associations like local Chambers of Commerce and interacting with your neighbors, you can potentially embark on joint advertising ventures, learn the latest news or network to discover new sales opportunities. Go ahead and ask for the names and numbers of specific individuals who need your products and services. Whenever possible, return the favor. Your membership might also yield discounts on other expenses like insurance, travel and car rentals, long-distance phone service and more.

9. Barter. If you provide printing services, barter with another company that creates websites to get a polished online image while you print marketing materials. Team up with other local businesses to place larger orders for products and services to get better discounts, free shipping, etc., or to split expenses for advertising, travel to networking events and other outreach activities. You can even share mailing lists, distribution channels and suppliers with companies that sell complementary goods. The National Association of Trade Exchanges (NATE) is a clearing house for member exchanges which allows business owners to swap with each other (www.nate.org).

10. Integrate communications. Small business marketers sometimes make the mistake of choosing a wide variety of channels to communicate with customers but don’t ensure messages are consistent in their style and content, which can produce limited results or even damage the images of their companies. Instead, small businesses should identify the possible channels the target market will use and select carefully. Then they should design a message strategy that works for all of these channels but stays true to the brand.

The best marketing tip of fall is to be imaginative. Think differently to set your business apart from competitors. If you copy another provider or look too similar to your prospects, that is a waste of your marketing dollars. But if you come up with something new, test it on a portion of your market and discover that it works: go for it and be the first!

Another important point is that every business is different. Just because a tactic works for others or is trending, it may not be for you. Keep your specific business goals in mind and spend your money on what is most effective for your company.

How do you save money on marketing for your small business?

About Kelly Glass
Kelly has been vice president of Marketing at Affinity Express for nine years now. She drives company strategy and all marketing activities.

3 Responses to 10 Money Saving Marketing Tactics for Small Businesses

  1. msienicki says:

    An excellent read, Kelly! I will definitely be sharing this with the rest of my company. Thank you!

  2. annshirley33 says:

    Content marketing and social media are essential for all small businesses. Essentially, these are free marketing techniques, but they are only effective when done properly. Small business owners should make sure to study up on ways to use these marketing channels effectively. Another way to cut down on costs would be to consider where office space is. Do you really need a huge office with a high mortgage bill? Small business owners can consider the possibility of finding a virtual office for rent to further cut down on costs.

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