How to market your business on a SHOE STRING budget

Many business owners love to have the same brand recognition as Microsoft, McDonald’s, eBay or Amazon.com. But you don’t need huge marketing budgets to promote your company and get your piece of the action. A creative approach to promotion will put you face to face with your prospects will help you become a well-known name.

Focus your marketing efforts – known as target marketing. Target marketing is necessary for every company, no matter how large or small. You don’t see advertisements for Oprah’s show on Fox Sports because that’s not her target market. You may think that McDonald’s appeals to almost everyone, but their advertising tends to be targeted toward specific marketing niches. Their latest marketing campaign is focused on the youth market that, these days, have much more of their money to spend than the youth market of yesteryear.

If you have a limited marketing budget, you must be creative and persistent. Here are a few ideas that won’t break the bank:

Networking:

We’re all familiar with print, radio and television advertising. And as the innovations of cable and the Internet have become more prominent in our lives, infomercials, banner ads and other Internet advertising avenues have been added to the mix. However, if you really want to connect with your target market, getting out and meeting them through networking is probably the best way to do it. BUY BUSINESS CARDS and learn a 20-second elevator “pitch” . Tell everyone what you do.

Joining professional organizations such as your local chamber of commerce or civic organizations such as your area Rotary club will put you in touch with the movers and shakers of your community. These people are likely to become colleagues that you can learn from as you watch them grow professionally and you watch your company grow as well. And while they may be able to connect you with potential clients and opportunities, you should approach these relationships prepared to give without motive. If you join these organizations with a “what’s in it for me?” attitude, you will likely be spotted as such and left out in the cold.

Partnerships and Sponsorships:

Another great way to not only get your name in front of your prospects but also learn more about them, is through partnerships and sponsorships.

When a community is unfamiliar with your company, one of the easiest ways to build trust is through a partnership with a more established and successful company. But keep in mind you’re going to need to be offering a product or service that is so useful to their customer base that your partner is willing to risk their reputation by endorsing you. If you don’t partner with a well-established firm, at least partner with a non-competitor that offers services similar to yours. If you sell houses, and your partner company sells mortgages, it makes perfect sense to do so.

Supporting community and civic organizations through sponsorship is another way to reach your audience. Your efforts can range from the local little league baseball team to a fundraiser for any sort of worthy cause. From the local chapter of the American Heart Association to an organization that raises money for any needy population in the area – abused women and children, the homeless, the mentally ill, disaster victims, etc. – this is a two-for-one opportunity for your company. A chance for you to satisfy your civic conscience by getting involved with that organization that you’ve always wanted to volunteer with, and you get exposure for your company at the same time.

Trade Shows

Trade shows are the ultimate in target and network marketing. But when you begin to calculate the cost of you trade show display, the fees for attending the show, the cost of travel to the show, hotel accommodations and the cost of someone to run the booth, you may be ready to scratch this marketing tool off of your list.

Trade show attendance is crucial. One area where you can curb your trade show attendance is in the price of the trade show display. But be careful – your exhibit will say a lot about you and your company; you want to save money, but not at the expense of quality. Most companies offer low-cost trade show display options, such as table top displays. They are easily transported and assembled and typically range between four and eight feet in size. While the more elaborate custom trade show displays can cost several thousands of dollars, you can purchase the table top versions for only a few hundred dollars.

Above and Beyond Customer Service:

Everyone talks about it, but nobody’s doing it. So, why don’t you be one of the few who walks the talk? Ask for customer feedback – and act on the feedback you’re given. Do something extra for the customers who do a lot of business with you. Recognize and thank your customers during the holiday season. Look for other opportunities to extend beyond the customer’s expectations, because going the extra mile is an investment in your company’s future success.

Economical marketing can be easily achieved – it just requires some innovation and concentrated effort. Start with these ideas and others are sure to come forth – and then you can expand your budget to include more traditional marketing if you want.