Hey busy business owner, today I’m going to show you how to decide on a marketing budget for your small business.
Follow the 1:2 Advertising Rule.
“For every $1 spent on hiring a marketing person, spend $2 on advertising their work.”
If you’ve hired a consultant for $750/month to run your social media, budget $1,500/month on Facebook, Instagram, &/or Google ads.
If you’ve paid $2,500 for a small business video, budget $5,000 over the next six months to get more future customers watching your video.
If you’ve spent $5,000 to improve your website, budget $10,000 over the next year to get more website traffic from future customers.
But Clarence, what if I don’t hire consultants/freelancers/agencies, and my staff is doing this for me?
You’ve saved a bunch of money on (expensive!) marketing fees.
Here’s some quick math.
Now, as you plan your advertising budgets, here’s seven marketing tactics that can implement TODAY that have a track record of success for small businesses.
Five of them won’t cost you a single penny (other than your time!).
And the other two will require a marketing budget starting at $10/day.
If you’re looking for low-cost ways to promote your small business, these are seven excellent options. Once you’ve achieved product/market fit, it’s simply a matter of smart marketing and good customer retention to drive growth.
But before we get started, let me share a secret with you.
The aim of small business marketing is to get in front of the right customer, at the right time, on a budget. It’s a basic definition, but it can be interpreted in a million different ways.
What are ideal customer avatars?
Where do they hang out on the internet?
What search terms do they use to find your business?
When making decisions about your product, who do they listen to?
The answers to these questions will decide which marketing tactics are feasible and which are a waste of time.
In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all plan that will transform your business. After reading this guide, you will have a better understanding of viable marketing channels, each of which could be the key to your future progress.
Let’s get this party started.
You don’t need a biiiggg budget to run Facebook or Instagram ads, but you do need a budget.
Start off with a $10/day/neighbourhood and run ads for at least 30 days. You’ll gather enough exposure, and data, to judge the effectiveness of your advertising dollars.
When it comes to ideal customers, Facebook’s targeting capabilities are out of this world.
This is where Facebook outperforms all other advertisement channels. You may target people based on their interests, life events, hobbies, backgrounds, age ranges, connections, places, or languages. You can also target the fans of your rivals. These options are just not available anywhere else.
These targeting abilities go deeper than any other tool, and you can layer and merge them to ensure that you’re not excluding people who aren’t in your target market.
Now, this part is critical.
The content of your audience is more critical than its size. We’re looking for conversions. If you’re spending $10/day/neighbourhood, your audience size should be around 30,000. You’ll be able to get cheap clicks and conversions with proper targeting and messaging.
You’ll meet even more people than you can with organic posts.
The best part about Google’s algorithm is that it is designed to return the most trustworthy, high-quality, and relevant results for any given search query.
Since it’s not necessary to pay to play, the playing field has been leveled, allowing small businesses to compete with larger rivals for page one real estate.
Local SEO is free, but it takes time, so get started (like yesterday!) and keep working at it every week; the long-term benefits can be immense.
Your Google My Business listing is one of the most powerful things you can do for your small business.
In fact, if you own a small business that caters to local customers, I would argue that it is THE MOST successful strategy available to you.
Google’s algorithm for rating Business Profiles takes into account not only proximity and interest, but also operation and information quality.
By optimising your Google Business Profile, you’re sending these signals to Google, which will help you rank higher in local results.
And, as you know, higher rank means more exposure and interaction with your business.
Email marketing is a great way to engage future visitors while also keeping in touch with existing ones.
And, while email marketing isn’t a brand new concept, most small businesses aren’t taking advantage of it.
So instead of spending 30 minutes working on that Instagram post, spend that time working on your email campaign. It’s still one of the most dependable ways to generating sales.
Here’s two important tactics for every email campaign:
Here are some straightforward email marketing ideas:
Starting a blog is an excellent way to incorporate content into your marketing efforts on a regular basis.
Blogging is used by small businesses to improve website traffic, local SEO, and online visibility. It’s a completely free way to advertise your small business online by sharing stories about it and offering useful information that your future customers are searching for.
Blog posts don’t have to be long and complicated—speak in simple terms, concentrate on a different topic each time, and naturally incorporate the keywords you’re targeting into each article.
Think competitions, giveaways, and content collaborations — all of which are fantastic ways to reach new audiences in your community quickly and cost-effectively. Think about it.
Which will get noticed? A unique competition or one more painful post about “Buy our product!”?
The more collaborations you do, the more people in your community see you, and the more your following grows.
Here’s a simple example.
A hot dog stand. People don’t set them up in a back alley where no one knows they exist. They set up outside a hockey game – where the team has spent years building an audience.
You need to go where people already are.
And on Instagram, that’s another small business with a loyal built-in following.
Hate to break out hot-dog philosophy, but you left me no choice. Here’s an example collab email
I’m Clarence and I was at your restaurant last week. Those Chicken Quesadillas sure were delish.
I’m the owner of *insert business name* and have been a big fan of yours for a long time.
We celebrated my mom’s birthday at your restaurant, and the service was top-notch.
I’d love to partner up with you guys and do an Instagram giveaway. Here’s what I’m thinking: I’ll purchase $100 in gift cards. We can announce the giveaway on your Instagram account.
To enter, someone needs to tag their friend in the comments and follow my account, and we’ll choose 4 winners ($25 gift card each). It’s a win-win for both of us.
Are you interested? Let me know who’s the best person to talk to.
*insert contact details*
Every Instagram collaboration is unique. There could be surprises or even hiccups (unlike the oh so predict- able world of running a business). But as you work through your first collaboration, you’ll gain insights and see how this process can help grow your business.
Moving onto your second, third, and fourth collaboration, you’ll adjust priorities and criteria, which will evolve over time. The sweet spot? I suggest hosting 4 collaborations every year to really reap the benefits. This number is manageable and 4 collaborations give you plenty of data to compare and contrast.
I heard about one business owner who tried 12 her first year. She remains in a social media detox center to this day!
The key is getting your own feel for this process. Maybe you have a taste for partnering with local businesses in your neighbourhood. Personally, that recipe works best for me.
Or, maybe you want to work with a larger nation-wide franchise because you know the owner.
Regardless of what your 4-year-old says, you are in fact the boss.
Your partners and your agreements are entirely up to you. Make these choices your own way. How you choose to move forward will be as unique as you are. Be true to yourself, be kind in your negotiations, and trust your gut. That’s my best advice.
A Facebook group provides a direct line to people in your community. Inviting fans and other local businesses to be a part of a group and communicating with them personally and on a regular basis demonstrates that you care and foster relationships.
Your Facebook group’s members are most likely to be your most devoted customers, fans, or referral partners. They purposefully spend their free time thinking about and discussing your business. Nobody is forcing them to join (I hope!).
You have an opportunity here to gain valuable feedback from those who are most familiar with your industry. Watch, read, solicit feedback, and then put it to use.
Facebook’s algorithm is designed to prioritise content from high-engagement Facebook communities. The more you and your community post and connect, the higher your visibility in the newsfeed would be.
While most small business owners’ understand that referral are one of the most powerful and cost-effective ways to produce new business, asking for them may be awkward.
You obviously want more customers, but you don’t want to come off as vulnerable or pushy. So, how do you ask for referrals?
Look for times when the customers are the happiest.
When your customer is at their happiest – such as after a purchase, after getting an issue resolved through customer service, or after they’ve provided constructive, unprompted feedback about your business – this is the very best time to mention your referral program (like a customer review on Google or social media comment).
Also, make sure you concentrate on your “best best” customers. Instead of focusing on all of your clients or customers, concentrate on those with whom you already have a partnership, those who sell complementary goods and services, or those who live in your neighbourhood.
They are more likely to recommend your goods or services to others because they trust you, can vouch for your work or products, and have had the opportunity to work side by side with you.
It’s up to you how you ask at this stage, but don’t be too pushy. You should recommend a referral without making them feel obligated to do so.
Consider starting with a question like, “Is there anybody else you know I can help?” before inviting them to enter your referral programme.
Marketing is important if you want your small business to thrive, let alone grow, but it doesn’t have to be expensive.
These small business marketing tips will assist you in strategically investing in your business so that you can make the most of the budget you have available.
I’ve personally used all of these tactics to get my small business off the ground 7 years ago, so I can attest to their efficacy.
Back up these suggestions with excellent goods or services, and you’ll be on your way to success in no time.
What are your thoughts? Which marketing tactics have you used for your small business?
I’m a Vancouver-based small business owner, digital marketing expert, and puppy-lover with big dreams. For the last 8 years, I’ve been growing small businesses through effective (and clever!) Facebook, Instagram, & email marketing techniques.