Marketing can be one of the hardest expenditures for small businesses to budget. When cash flow is tight, it can be tempting to slash marketing expenses but that doesn’t mean the marketing plan has to be non-existent. There are several affordable marketing ideas that don’t cost much. They may require a bit of creativity or extra work, but the cost is often worth the gain.
Social Network Marketing
Many small business owners are realizing the value of social networking. How many people now have Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter pages? Developing a business presence on these platforms can help a company establish relationships with customers and communicate with them regularly.
The difference between social networking and your static company website is that social media allows two-way interaction. Your fans, friends, or followers can interact with your business by reading, commenting, and sharing your page. They can also address the company directly with feedback, which you can use to improve your marketing plan. Social networking sites are free so the only investment is your time, making this is a very affordable marketing method for small businesses.
Bartering for Marketing
This one requires some creativity but can really help cash-strapped businesses continue to market products and services despite a lack of cash flow. A good example is a computer store owner who needs to invest in a new website. The store owner approaches a local web designer who needs some new hardware. The two can then swap services or products of similar value and they both get something they need. The small business owner now has a new website to expand his marketing efforts and attract new customers.
It is important to note that, when bartering, a business should record the fair market value of everything it trades and receives. This is needed because the fair market value of bartered services or products must be listed as income come tax time.
Turn Customers Into Marketing Staff
This is one of the oldest affordable marketing techniques in the book. It is one of the most powerful forms of marketing for small businesses, especially those that operate on a local level. It can also be one of the easiest advertisements to obtain. Business owners should ask family, friends, and happy customers to talk about the business.
The best way to generate good word of mouth about a business is to take good care of the customers. If they receive outstanding service from the company, they’ll be more likely to recommend its product or service to a friend, co-worker, or family member. This is especially important when dealing with confrontation. If customers have a concern, the owner or employees should keep their cool and do what it takes to change the customer’s frustration into satisfaction. Providing good service causes a company’s customers to become its most powerful marketing tool.