Stretching a marketing budget

Small business marketing is essential, but it can be expensive. Bloomberg Businessweek recommends that companies in the service industry should spend more than 5 percent of their revenue on advertisements. The news source also notes that some start-ups frequently use up to 15 percent of their profit margins on marketing.

A well-honed marketing campaign doesn’t have to break your budget. You can still be frugal and raise your business’ visibility by developing creative distribution strategies to reach new customers. Read on for some tips to help you break into new markets without increasing your advertising expenses.

Incentives for leads
The most valuable resource you have for finding new customers is your current clientele. Offer your loyal patrons incentives for leads. You don’t have to distribute extravagant gifts – functional promotional items often provide adequate motivation.

Explain to your customers that they can earn prizes for giving you leads. The program can help you expand your marketing presence without advertising to consumers who aren’t very likely to become regular patrons.

For instance, you can give away promotional pens to customers who sign their friends up for your email list. Your clients will appreciate receiving a free gift, and you won’t need to buy email lists for your next digital marketing campaign.

Remember, consumers trust reviews from their friends and family members. Leads may be more likely to respond to your advertisements because your customers have spoken highly of your business in the past.

Recycle ideas and strategies
If your current marketing plan is working, don’t change it. Consistency is key to increasing brand recognition, so if your advertisements are helping your business there is no reason to change them. Entrepreneur Magazine writes that companies sometimes discard their marketing materials because they’re bored.

The only time you should replace your advertisements is when consumers stop responding – it’s their boredom that matters, not yours. Don’t be afraid to recycle old ideas and keep using them if they’ve proven successful in the past.

You can also repurpose other resources and adapt your plans to avoid wasteful spending. If you bought a mailing list but ran out of time to send promotional holiday cards, you can still use the addresses by distributing new postcards.

Additionally, you shouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel with every campaign. Stick to few tried-and-true marketing platforms like social media and unique promotional products and perfect your messages for those mediums.

Understand your market
Entrepreneur Magazine also notes that a common mistake businesses make is following the lead of other companies that aren’t in the same industry. Owners sometimes believe that trying to capitalize on the trends set by large chains is the best strategy, but independent establishments must remember to whom they are marketing and advertise appropriately.

Understand who your customers are and what advertisements are most effective for their demographics. For instance, if your client base is primarily composed of students and young adults, it may be wise to rely heavily on social media.

The news source writes that businesses appear out of touch and uninformed when they use advertisements that don’t speak directly to their customers. Irrelevant marketing messages can quickly become wasted efforts because consumers won’t be motivated to respond.

Small business owners also run the risk of being labeled as uncreative by following other companies’ leads. Consumers quickly notice when establishments produce unoriginal content. Additionally, if advertisements bear many similarities, clients may assume that the marketing messages are for the company that originated the idea.

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