10 low budget marketing ideas for your small business
Getting a small business or start-up in front of the right people is a challenge for the majority of South African entrepreneurs. Having a low marketing budget, or having none at all is often the number one cause.
If you’re one of those businesses with a low marketing budget and are struggling to get the most ROI with your marketing efforts, worry not, we’ll help you change that. There are more than a few marketing tactics you can use that won’t strain your budget.
Here are 10 low budget marketing ideas you can implement to start getting better results.
1. Know your audience
Before you can start marketing your business it important to know exactly who your target audience is. All too often small businesses make the mistake of broadcasting to everyone hoping to attract a few customers.
That strategy might work but there’s a better way to do it. What if you only communicate to a specific group of people you understand very well, and you were communicating about something they’re actually interested in?
As a small business it important to understand that not everyone is your buyer. By specifying your target audience, you can tailor your marketing for that specific audience. This is helpful as it saves you time, energy, resources and stress of trying to appeal to everyone.
To appeal to buyers within your niche, you have to understand them, their pains, problems, triggering events, and priorities.
What drives them to make a purchasing decision? What does success look like to them? Knowing your target audience helps you craft messaging that’s effective and will resonate with them.
Start by studying your existing customers, find out why they came to you in the first place. Do a survey to gather data, use it to build a buyer persona and start marketing to the right and most likely to buy audience.
2. Dominate online with a professional website
This one might seem a bit obvious, but we’d be making a big mistake if we left it out. To compete in today’s very connected world, you need to be online. If your business doesn’t have a great website, you’re in trouble and are missing out.
People are online looking for your products and services every single day. And, if your business doesn’t have a website, they can’t find you, which means you’re losing potential customers day-in-day-out.
A custom professional website is one of the most important assets in business. A website is not only there to tell people who you are, and what you’re about.
Your website is a salesperson that works 24/7 to convert traffic and turn them into leads and customers.
Fortunately we live in a world where you don’t need to be coder to build a website, you can design and complete a website all by yourself in a few days. But how do you do that? Well you start by getting a domain for your business.
Buying a domain name for business
1. Through CIPC
If you’re in South Africa, buying a domain for your CIPC registered company will cost your R51.30 as of Dec 2020. The fact that you get to own YourBusiness.co.za domain for this price is insane and is not even the best part. The best part? You get to keep it forever, with no further payments.
2. Other domain registrars.
You can also rent a domain by getting a person/company that sells domains. They will buy the domain for you, but you’ll be renting it and you’ll have to pay a small amount every year to keep using the domain they registered for you.
The upside to buying from such people is that your domain can have any extension you want. It can be a .com .africa .online .durban .io. The list goes on. Unlike with CIPC where they currently only offer one extension for South African registered businesses, a .co.za.
Now that you have a domain, you need hosting, where all your website content and emails will live online so that they can be accessed anytime.
You need to have a monthly budget for this. Hosting is like renting an office space for your business and you pay the rent every month to your hosting partner. Good news is, it’s not very expensive and you can afford it.
On average website hosting will cost you anywhere from R60-R200, depending on the company and hosting plan you choose for your small business.
Read our article on domain registrars available in South Africa to find a good company for domain registration and web hosting.
Getting a website
Now that you’ve got a domain and hosting sorted, you need a website. As we mentioned before you don’t need to be a coder to design and build an awesome business website.
You can design your own website using a CMS (Content Management System) such as WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. All these CMS’s have templates that are well designed and you’ll surely find one that’s suits your business the best.
All you’ll have to do is replace the designer/template content with your own content and take your business online.
Before you get started with your website, take a look at these 5 website design trends for 2020/21 for inspiration and design ideas.
3. Create and publish great content
You’ve probably heard of the saying “content is king” and guess what? It’s true, content is everything in marketing.
Content is what persuades people to engage with your business or to buy from you. Every small business needs to have some sort of plan for content marketing, especially if they’re on a budget.
Content marketing is all about creating and publishing relevant and valuable content for your target audience. The best thing about content marketing is that the only cost associated with it is the content creation itself.
If you’re good storyteller, writer, photographer or video person, you might not even need to hire content creators. You can create and distribute content by yourself.
There are lots of content types and you have to choose according to your business type and industry. Not all content will work for your small business, so choose wisely, create amazing content and get your business discovered by the right people.
4. Emphasize your unique value proposition
This you have to do across all your marketing, emphasize your unique value proposition. What sets you apart? How are you different and better than the competition?
If there’s no difference between you and your competition, there’s no reason why a customer will be compelled to choose your product or service over your competitors’. Your unique value proposition is what will differentiate you from others in your niche and convince your target customer that you’re the best choice for them
5. Double down on social media
Earlier we discussed creating great content for your business. That content needs to live somewhere and needs to be seen by the right people. And, social media is the place where there are millions of people who are looking for content.
It doesn’t matter what type of content you create, you have to share it with your audience online and social media is one of the first places you need to focus on.
There are so many benefits to marketing on social media, one of them is that it’s free, unless you’re advertising. But, posting and distributing content is free. People login into social media platforms daily to consume content and your business needs to get involved.
Success on social media doesn’t happen with one post, or two, a day. Social media users have short concentration span, which means they might see your content and don’t even remember your business because they just looked for a second and continued to scroll.
To get results from social media you need to start publishing more frequent interesting content. Double down on your social media marketing. Double your posting frequency. If you’ve been posting 2 times a day, make it 4.
Don’t worry about running out of content ideas for your business page. There’s a lot you can post about.
You can post daily interesting updates, share blog posts, YouTube videos, share offers, create polls, ask your audience questions, and even share user generated content. You don’t even have to always share your own content. You can share industry related news, facts and stats.
6. Get started on YouTube
Much like social media platforms, YouTube is one the places you can get customers from by paying zero Rands and Cents. Open a YouTube channel/account and start publishing video content for free, and get discovered by millions of potential customers.
The South African YouTube audience is on a steady rise. People are looking for video content for different reasons. Most want to get entertained, others want information and to learn. No matter your business or industry, you can offer one of the two.
Ideally your video content should be both, be entertaining and educational. You want to grab and keep attention, and give an audience something valuable so that they remember you and keep coming back for more.
Here are some YouTube content ideas to help you get started.
- Tutorial videos- make videos educating your audience. This video could be a tutorial of how to use your certain product, how to get the best out of your App or how to do/make something.
- Vlog- you can start video blogging for your business, it similar to blogging, only it on video. Instead of typing your content for the internet. Get in front of the camera and do your thing.
- Star in your own series- start a series about any topic your audience is interested in. Suppose you’re a beer company, make a series of how beer is made, not revealing your trade secrets of course.
7. Email marketing
Email marketing is one of the most effective methods to get your audience engaged and acquire new customers. Remember the website we created earlier, your 24/7 online salesperson? Now you have to use that guy/girl to get your visitors’ addresses.
Get your website traffic to sign-up for an email newsletter by offering a bonus piece of valuable content they just need to get their eyes or hands on in exchange for their email addresses.
From there slowly nurture your subscribers by a series of email marketing campaigns until they are ready to buy. Email them offers and discounts from time to time so that they have a solid reason to always open your emails and stay subscribed to you.
Get your web traffic subscribed and start an email marketing campaign by using a free tool like MailChimp. They offer a free plan that’s great for small businesses that are just getting started with email marketing.
8. Set-up Google my business profile
A Google My Business profile is a very important asset for your business, almost as important as your website. Your Google My Business profile is what allows your business to appear in local search results and Google Maps.
Suppose you search Google for “best corporate Lawyer in Durban,” The most optimized Google My Business profile will appear first, often times even before the organic search results. Optimizing your Google My Business profile just might be more important than website SEO, especially if you’re targeting your local audience.
Google My Business profile optimization.
Here’s what you need to do to optimize your Google My Business page for search engine success:
- Provide all contact information (name, website, phone number, email and physical address, hours of operation)
- Select a category (so you can show up for non-branded searches)
- Indicate your attributes (specific accommodations and business details)
- Include a detailed but short description of your business (make sure to use terms your potential customers would use when searching for the products and services you offer)
- Seed your Q&A section to clear up uncertainty for potential customers and emphasize your unique value proposition.
9. Signup in a local chamber of commerce
A chamber is an organization that helps businesses connect with one another. Normally there’s a chamber for every city and country. Two of the most notable chambers in KwaZulu-Natal are the Durban and Pietermaritzburg chamber of commerce.
Local business owners join these platforms for various reasons. They can influence public policies that benefit themselves, their fellow business owners and the community.
Membership in a local chamber of commerce has several benefits for business owners, there’s an abundance of variable resources they can access. These include networking opportunities, education, marketing opportunities, and most importantly, access to other business leaders within the community who seek opportunities to grow, learn, and do business.
Chamber marketing opportunities.
Multiple marketing opportunities are available to chamber members. Being a member you can attend chamber connect events where you’ll meet other local business owners, learn more about their businesses, exchange business cards and expand you network.
Some of the marketing opportunities through a chamber include.
- Placing an Ad in chamber email fanouts that go to members
- Sponsoring an event
- Advertising on their websites
- Being listed in a local business directory
10. Search Engine Optimization
SEO, or Search engine optimization includes every attempt to rank number one on Googles’ organic search results for specific key words or phrases. This is a long term strategy, and it pays at the end.
Everything we have discussed and recommended contributes to your Google ranking. Being active on social media, creating and publishing valuable content whether you’re blogging or doing video, having a great and well-designed website that is properly structured. All these contribute and convince Google to rank you at the top of their search results.
Doing all that we’ve talked about will give you thousands of free monthly website traffic that will become leads and buying customers. All you need to do is consistently publish relevant and useful content that both your audience and search engines will love.
Create great content
You don’t need to have deep pockets to effectively market yourself and your business. With the right strategy and execution you can compete at the highest level and start seeing impressive returns.
All you need is to have a deep understanding of your target audience, and start creating content they’ll love and associate with your business. Use free platforms to distribute your content.
We recommend you focus on Google, and one or two social media platforms. Create a blog for your business to attract traffic, and use social media to share your blogs and other interesting content like pictures and videos to grow your business the most cost effective way.