How to market your business on a shoestring
One thing we're often asked is how to market a business on a budget. We know how difficult it can be to get off the ground; keeping all the balls in the air while trying to focus on your core business.
When Martina was asked to put together a piece for Accountancy Ireland magazine on that very subject, she was delighted to oblige because she had been through the process herself.
In the piece Martina outlines all of the steps to creating an effective marketing strategy while keeping spend to a minimum. She also examines potential pitfalls as well as tricks of the trade to get your business off to a flying start.
Set Strategic Goals
Before engaging in any marketing campaign, ask yourself why you're doing it. Is your aim to ‘upsell’ to existing clients? Or attract new clients? Do you want to position yourself as an expert in a specific field? Do you need to recruit skilled staff? All marketing initiatives should be in-line with your over-all business strategy.
Once you have identified your strategy, you need to decide how you will position yourself - how do you describe your business and does it align with how you want to be perceived and does it make sense? A surprising amount of businesses are very bad at describing exactly what it is their business does! Who are your competitors? Who is your audience? Drop the jargon - keep it simple!
Marketing - Getting started
Once you have established what your business is, what you want to achieve and who your audience is, you can move on to marketing it. Start at the beginning - a simple, effective website. If you have a tight budget and you are even mildly IT literate, you can have a go at building a website yourself using a platform like Wordpress.com. Your website is at the core of your marketing plan because it is a central repository for information about you, your business, as well as holding all of your blogs, newsletters, ad campaigns and media relations.
When it comes to social media, the key is to think of where your target customers ‘hang out’. There's no point in running a series of Facebook ads if all of your potential customers use LinkedIn.
Starting off, Martina recommends using just one or two platforms. Good starting points are LinkedIn and Twitter. As a business owner, Martina finds LinkedIn useful for making business connections and identifying potential collaborators. Twitter is a useful tool for disseminating news about your business, keeping up with the latest trends in your sector and getting on the radar of target media and clients.
However, Martina warns - don’t set up a Twitter profile unless you can commit to constant monitoring and lots of interaction.
Other useful, cost-effective tools:
Another cost-effective way to promote your business is through email marketing. Sending regular updates to your contacts or quarterly e-newsletters about your company, or more personalised emails promoting special offers, discounts or seasonal greetings are a great way of keeping you connected to your clients. There are free tools like Mailchimp that are easy and intuitive if you are in any way computer literate.
Once you have your website, social media and marketing emails in place, you can now begin to use your website to start creating content. Publish one or two news posts (or blogs) every week on your website and then, share the links to these on your social media and in your marketing emails and newsletter.
Your news stories should be aligned to your strategic goal and be on the same topics. As you build up a bank of relevant content on your site, people searching for the topics you write about will find your content quickly and easily and your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) results will improve.
Don't expect miracles!
You're not going to jump to first position on Google searches overnight - it takes time to perfect your message and to build up an audience. By measuring the impact of your campaigns with in-built insight tools on social media platforms or by using Google Analytics can help you to hone and perfect your message to achieve your goals.
Read the full piece on the Accountancy Ireland website.