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Market Your Business On A ShoeString!

Mark Twain once said, “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

While most advertising can be expensive, the best advertising and business promotions can be accomplished via low cost methods. In fact did you know that some of the best and most effective forms are actually FREE?

In a tight economy many small businesses cut their marketing budgets as the first expense to reduce, because of cash flow concerns. However when times are tough it’s even more important to keep your business brand front and centre. No matter which marketing methods (and we recommend you use a variety) you choose as a business owner, the key is to keep your promotional efforts going, and to never depend on one form of marketing if you want long term success.

These days using easy access to social marketing (and I’m not just talking about social media) is undoubtedly one of the most effective, cost effective and affordable ways to engage your customers and keep your brand top-of-mind. But it’s not the only way. Word-of-mouth, referral based marketing is the cheapest and most effective forms ever discovered, and it has growing advocates even in the world of big business.

In the Savvy Team we realise that the savviest way to stay on top of your brand recognition is to use as many different forms of markting as you can.

Your first tip: Never stop doing what got you started, and take advantage of ALL market conditions, marketing strategies and promotional opportunities to promote your business, your services, your brand and your culture.

It’s also important to adapt your conversation to make the most of changes in the economy. For instance, when the economy experiences a downturn, marketing your business as one that helps people meet consumer needs is quite effective. Or if your products offers savings to the consumer, let them know about it. During an economic downturn, clients, customers, and consumers have less money to spend. This means that when they’re ready to buy, you want your brand to be at the top of their list.

Here are ten more tried and true marketing strategies that can help you market your business on a shoestring budget.

1. Craft an Engaging Elevator Pitch
You should be marketing all the time — wherever you are. Therefore, you need a compelling ‘elevator pitch’ – something that is easy to remember and quick to share – that gives benefits for the person listening.

Research shows the average attention span of an adult is about 6 to 8 seconds. That’s all the time you have to grab someone’s attention. If you successfully engage them, then you only have a little over a minute to really sell them on your product or service.

Invest the time to craft a WOW ‘elevator pitch’. The return on your time investment will pay huge dividends in terms of creating business opportunities wherever you are, with the sort of people you choose to partner with.

2. Use People Who Know And Trust You.
You don’t have to think big when it comes to your marketing efforts. Think locally. What’s going on in your community? How could you be of service to others and get you or/and your brand recognised.

Here Are 4 Ways to Leverage Your Community

  • Look for charity events in your area, and inquire how to be a sponsor in the event. You’ll get exposure to a larger, more diverse audience, and will be engaging in a public service by helping your community or a cause. Dunn and Bradstreet recommends this method because of its positive public relations impact.
  • Or sponsor a 5k charity walk/run.
  • Print bookmarks with information about you and what you offer and leave them at the local library.
  • Get to know your ideal customer and think about how and where they spend their time. Then search for opportunities to get in front of your customer with your marketing message.

3. Collaborate With Non-Competitive Businesses
Put together a group of synergistic, non-competitive businesses in your area and agree to cross-promote. You can use coupons, fliers, reciprocal website links, bundled promotions or social media platforms. By collaborating with each other, you can expand your customer base because you’ll be reaching new people.

4. Network With Everyone You Meet
I’m a huge fan of networking, as many of you know. I don’t think there is any better way to build a business than to get out there, shake some hands, and get to know people. And I was the worst at this when I first entered sales over thirty years ago so even if you are not confident, with practice you can develop the skills to be a great networker.

Networking requires a time commitment and it doesn’t provide instant gratification, but a strong network of people who know, like and trust you, is one of the greatest assets any business person can have. As you go about creating it, it also gives you an opportunity to ask “Who do you know who …”

When thinking of networking, remember to ask for referrals: so … who do you know who knows you, or who could refer you to others?

5. Give a Speech – Share What You Offer
A lot of people hate public speaking. However, there are many organizations looking for qualified, subject-matter experts who can present to their groups. Take a deep breath and volunteer – I know the first time I did this I was terrified. But I soon learned that you don’t have to be a pro: as long as the information you share is helpful to the audience.

And the upside — the more you do it the easier it gets. Plus, it positions you as a credible authority in your field. What I found was that it helped me build my confidence because I was speaking about a topic I knew and was passionate about.

6. Create Buzz
I started my business career well before the turn of the century, and business has changed significantly because of technology. Today, a small business owner can accomplish a lot without hiring professionals, but if you aren’t good at something, find someone who is. Remember: Who do you know who knows someone, or who could refer you to others?

7. Ask For Referrals
Don’t be shy about asking for customer referrals. The majority of people say they are willing to provide a referral if asked, but very few take the initiative to do it on their own. Don’t forget to ask your customers for referrals directly, be specific about who you are looking for.

Let the people you know, know they’ll receive a discount off their next purchase or will get a free gift with every referral. Don’t be stingy, this is the very best form of finding new partners or new business, so it’s worth a small investment. Referrals make it easier to get in the door with new customers. If you aren’t asking for them, you are missing opportunities.

8. Build Relationships
It is a lot less expensive to keep a customer than it is to get a new one. That’s why establishing strong relationships with your customer base is crucial. One of the ways you can do that is by launching an email campaign. Make your communications informative and helpful — something your customers will look forward to receiving.

9. Offer Incentives To Get New Customers
Incentives are a good way for many businesses to attract new customers. Research shows that people will go out of their way to let others know about them, especially if they know ‘what’s in it for them’.

If you have gifts or incentives you can use them to get people to put you in touch with other potential business partners or customers.

Gaining new business can also generate return visits, if you offer people a discount off their next purchase. For example, if you give a customer a discount to use on future business, there’s a high probability they’ll be back don’t you think?

10. Give It Away
If someone has the opportunity to experience your product or service, chances are they will want to purchase more. Don’t be afraid to give someone a free trial or a sample. In today’s economy, people are more comfortable purchasing something they have been able to experience first.

These ten, inexpensive marketing strategies will help you engage customers, build relationships, and ultimately keep your brand top-of-mind. It’s not always about the money you have to spend on marketing, it’s about the time and effort you put into it and above all, the relevance it has for your customers.

Do you have another inexpensive, successful marketing tip that has worked for you? If so, let us know by sharing it here. If you want support from people who have successfully used these and other strategies, contact us at we’d love to hear from you.

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