As more and more businesses are restarting or ramping up operations, many are faced with the daunting task of trying to execute a marketing strategy that fits into their shrunken budgets. With business being somewhat scaled back as we return to a more open, but tentative climate, many leaders and entrepreneurs are having hard conversations about what, if anything, they can do to attract new customers.
Luckily, with the proliferation of digital marketing, there are many tactics a small business owner can afford that effectively attract new customers and retain ones that have been staying on the sidelines during the worst of the pandemic. I’m talking effective, inexpensive (if not free) and manageable tactics that almost any business can employ with a basic understanding of digital tools.
Shift your advertising spending to fit your “new” budget. Targeted ads for your business can be placed online every day, where people can search for these ads. Advertise anything from a one-day event, such as a sidewalk sale, or an ongoing service your business provides.
Develop a simple content marketing strategy. Since you’re the expert on your business, write a simple white paper or electronic newsletter about your operation or industry. This gives visitors to your website something of value, while also giving you content to push out on social media. Further, by offering such content, you can collect the email addresses of your website visitors with the purpose of sending them more content, which could translate into a sale down the road.
Step out onto social media. If you are not on one or more of the bigger social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram — for your business, you probably should be. Sure, these sites require a diligence that can seem like a big drain on your time, but the return on investment can be huge. Fortunately, you don’t have to be on all of the platforms. Do some research about your customers and what platform(s) they prefer. Even understanding the general age range of your customers can help point you in the right direction. For example, Facebook skews older, while Instagram skews younger.
Update your website with more dynamic content. A huge shift in website aesthetics is fitting well with businesses on a budget. Highly produced — and expensive — video and image production are giving way to more authentic and homemade visuals. Something that is low on production value but high on human touch can be quite impactful. Any business owner can learn how to shoot, upload and showcase that kind of content, which can also be shared on social media, thereby widening its reach to customers.
Become an expert author. Like you, publishing businesses are having to reinvent themselves within the ongoing COVID-19 landscape. Also like you, these businesses are trying to reinvent despite being busy and perhaps being understaffed. Why not contribute an article about your industry? Many trade publications, and business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) journals are looking for content; if you are good at conveying expertise and knowledge, you may be invited to provide an article, which would position you and your business as a leader in your industry.
Within the next few months, if not years, challenges will be ongoing for businesses, large and small. Successful leaders and entrepreneurs will use those affordable marketing channels that fit the budget while also communicating the value proposition of their business.
Michael Dunne ([email protected]) is a long-time PR manager who has worked for both large and small business-es, and PR agencies. He believes that in business, what you say and how you say it are just as important as what you do.