Guest Post: Big Results on an Itty Bitty Marketing Budget
When I sounded the clarion call for guest bloggers, Victoria Olubi was the first one to beam a request into my inbox. I adore that kind of tenacity and I immersed myself in learning more about her company. This is a true bootstrap success story and Ms. Victoria is making waves in the UK. As I wipe noses and fill bellies at the orphanage in Uganda, I’m grateful that she’s here to lend her thoughts about marketing strategies for makers. The floor is all yours Victoria!
“I can’t market my business properly because I’m broke!”
“I’m not a big company so there’s no point in me bothering with marketing my business.”
“I don’t have the money to hire a company who can do my marketing for me.”
As a fellow business owner I hear these types of remarks all the time. They astound me, not because I can’t relate to the difficulty of marketing my business on a budget (oh contraire) but because I can relate to these sentiments, though I don’t believe they are reasons to avoiding making marketing a priority in your small business. You see, I started my business when I was unemployed and had no job, no money and none of the traditional resources associated with starting a hair care brand. Despite having very little, I managed to get my business off the ground, attract customers from across the world and build a brand that’s consistently growing. If you’ve ever thought that it’s impossible to build your business, market it like there’s no tomorrow and consistently increase your sales, this post is for you.
Yes, it’s true: you’re not a big business and you don’t have millions to spend hiring fancy firms. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get big marketing results on a not-so-big budget. We all have free (or super cost-effective) tools that allow us to leverage our marketing efforts without breaking the bank. Here are my recommendations:
1. Know your market and their needs.
In order to make your marketing efforts worthwhile, it’s essential to ask yourself: who needs my products/services? What will these people respond to? What inspires/motivates them? Where do they hang out? Without knowing the answer to these questions it’s almost impossible to maximize your marketing efforts because you’ll end up marketing to people who aren’t your dream customers. Too often, business owners only have a rough imagination of what their customers really want, yet this type of market research is vital for any successful marketing campaign. To find out the customers’ needs, create a target group which will be your source of information. If you don’t know the needs of the customer, you might as well be presenting a diamond to a monkey. While it may be something of great value, its importance may not be properly conveyed to the clients.
2. Take a long, hard look at your website.
Does your website elicit ‘wow’ or ‘ow’? Does it convert visitors into buyers? If it’s failing to live up to its potential, then it’s important to first assess its bones. Take 5 minutes to be in your customer’s shoes and visit your own site. How easy is it to make a purchase? Are there error signs or broken links? If your website isn’t easy to navigate or is confusing in any way, it’s high time you made some changes and gave it a mini-makeover.
Informative and attractive websites convey your level of professionalism. A well-executed website helps build a relationship with potential clients. The real benefits will depend on the websites’ functionality. Put a strategy in place that optimizes your website with lots of informative content that’s of interest to your audience. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring your website; it’s the center of all your marketing efforts and should be prioritized.
3. Make email newsletters a priority.
In today’s ever-changing world, it’s absolutely essential for small business owners to have some way of keeping in contact with their customers and prospects and a newsletter is one of the most cost-effective ways to add to your business’ bottom line. Imagine this: your dream customer lands on your website, they know nothing about you or your business but they like the look of your products/services. They decide not buy from you today. Compare that scenario to this one: the same person sees your website, they’re uncertain about whether to buy from you and are about to leave until they notice that you’re offering 10% of their first order. All they have to do is sign up to your newsletter and they’ll receive their discount. They sign up, make a purchase and, because they’re part of your newsletter, they continue to read your emails and buy your products for years to come. Which scenario is enjoys a more successful outcome? The second one, of course!
If you don’t have an offering that encourages people to sign up to receive your newsletter you’re throwing money down the drain! It’s one of the best ways to attract your dream client and build a relationship with them over time. Email newsletters cost nothing to establish (I recommend Mailchimp), but they’ll have a huge impact on your success.
If you’ve started a newsletter before but you felt as if your subscribers weren’t responsive it could be because you’re writing your emails in a way that’s too corporate and unappealing. It’s pertinent that you make your newsletter recipients feel as if they’re valued members of your community and less like statistics by personalizing the emails. Personalized emails are more likely to be read compared to bulk emails that are often regarded as spam. Furthermore, provide interesting and useful content that is worth reading by using a tone of writing that seems friendly yet professional. To really make your newsletter distinctive incorporate you into your emails. In other words, don’t be afraid of adding your picture to emails, using language that you’d use regularly and sharing stories about your own personal experiences.
4. Get social.
In this digital age, social media has become a marketing tool that has the potential to transform businesses. When I started my business, social media marketing was my first point of call and I literally immersed myself in it. As a result, I was able to promote my brand, gain sales and score press coverage. Many small business owners shy away from social media, assuming that it’s time-consuming and complex, but it really doesn’t have to be. For instance, it’s possible to spend just thirty minutes a week on social media marketing if you use scheduling resources like Hootsuite and Buffer. These tools allow you to pre-schedule your posts so that they’re broadcast to your followers on a schedule you determine.
Remember: social media marketing is one type of marketing strategy that can take time to yield results. A lot of business owners assume that they can set up a Facebook or Twitter page and then relax as sales magically flood their inboxes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Social media requires consistency and rapport building. Be patient and you’ll soon discover the power of social media to build relationships with your followers, media outlets and potential retailers.
The final element of successful social media marketing is using it as a tool for building your customer or prospect list. It’s essential to get your social media followers to subscribe to your email list so that you can continue to market to them on an ongoing basis. This is one of the most effective ways to bring in new leads and increase your business’ revenue without having to spend a penny on advertising.
5. Get out there and meet people.
Networking is a valuable way to expand your knowledge, learn from the success of others, attain new clients and tell others about your business. Business networking offers a platform to reach decision makers who might otherwise be difficult to engage using conventional advertising methods. Networking for business growth must be strategic and focused, meaning that you need to be proactive, focused and be consistent. Don’t make the mistake of meeting people, collecting their business cards and then failing to follow up. Instead, take the time to really connect with people you want to know and help them before ever asking for a favor. Remember to give before expecting anything in return.
Marketing isn’t something to fear. It’s simply a strategy for getting the people who really want your products or services to find out about them. Do you have any strategies for marketing your business? Leave a comment and let me know!
Victoria Olubi is an entrepreneur, educator and best-selling author from London, England. Victoria’s company, My Curls, not only creates hand-made products for women with curly hair, but also promotes the message that women from all cultures, creeds and walks of life should embrace every tenet of who they are. Victoria is passionate about self-esteem, confidence building and personal development. When she’s not in the kitchen mixing up products for customers or experimenting with ideas for new inventions, she enjoys reading, singing, writing and teaching. Victoria endeavors to build a business that is ethical, environmentally friendly and that makes a difference to women and children across the world.