Focus on built-in repeat impressions and a broad swath of potential customers.
Suppose you had $1,000 to spend on marketing. It isn’t much: No massive ad campaign here. But you can still make an impact, even on a small marketing budget.
"The number one thing you want to do is to create some momentum that is going to pay dividends after your $1,000 is invested," says Joe Scott of marketing firm Scott & Associates, Inc., an NFIB member in Chanhassen, Minnesota. "Too often, people spend that money in a medium that has no built-in repeat impressions. You can spend the $1,000 on a newspaper ad and people may see it, but then it's going to get thrown away."
How do you get the most bang for those minimal bucks, and make that lasting impression? Experts offer half a dozen strategies:
1. Take it social.
By far the most popular low-cost marketing tools are targeted ads on Facebook, Google and Bing. A campaign may cost $200 to $500 and will reach a broad swath of potential customers. More significant: customization. These advertising tools let users tailor where and how ads appear. You can set a daily spend limit and how much you’ll pay per click. Target ads based on geography or demographics; slice, dice, customize. It’s a precise way to make a little money go a long way.
2. Learn your audience.
Before you start any marketing program, it pays to know your target audience. “For my $1,000, I’d do a customer value analysis – a segmentation of my customers to determine who the most profitable customers are, who is moving into the most profitable quadrant, and who to let go of,” says Robyn Federman, director of communications at marketing agency Catalyst in Rochester, New York. “You can do that with a pivot table in Excel and two years of sales data if you’re good with numbers. If you’re not, hire a graduate student in math or business analytics. It might not even cost $1,000. You have to know who you’re talking to and where to find them before you invest in any type of advertising,”
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3. Get help.
“If someone only had $1,000 for marketing, I would hire a PR consultant to pitch your story or brand to the media. Obviously, that barely covers one month of PR – going rates are $2,500 and up – but if you find someone that resonates with your story and you work with them to build a pitch, you can start the momentum of getting your brand and its story out there. It's the best money you can spend, better than spending $1,000 on one ad that most likely won't do anything for you unless you do it consistently for six months or more,” says Nicole Dunn of Dunn Pellier Media in Los Angeles.
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4. Run a contest.
“Sweepstakes are relatively inexpensive and can have a huge impact on growing a business because of their power to quickly generate leads,” says Giancarlo Massaro. His firm, ViralSweep.com, lets small businesses set up sweepstakes and contests quickly and at minimal expense. Other services include www.cub.io, www.ennect.com and www.rafflecopter.com.
5. Partner up.
To make that $1,000 stretch, “I would find an affiliate company that could run some complementary promotions and take on some of the financial burden of advertising the promotions,” says Ethan Casavant of Main Security Surveillance in Augusta, Maine. Selling blankets? Pair up with a local bedding store. By finding a complementary provider of goods or services, it’s possible to cut the cost and simultaneously parlay the power of the message.
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6. Create content.
Media coverage is a great value (practically free), but you’ve got to give reporters a reason to notice you. “Increase awareness through earned publicity,” offers Joan L. Witte of Raven Loon Communications in Walled Lake, Michigan. “Partner with your local chamber to have a grand reopening or open house. Write a consumer education article for the paper. This works well in small towns.” A story in the local paper likely will also appear online, boosting search engine results, while also generating free word-of-mouth marketing.
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