Learning how to market your business on a budget is one of the most valuable skills you can have. The current economic climate means everyone is making cuts and sacrifices to try and make ends meet. This means that as a business you need to pay extra attention to the way you’re marketing your products to consumers. Spending money on marketing however remains important and it is definitely possible to do this whilst sticking to your budget.
We have been looking at how some companies, big and small have shown creative and innovative ways to run a marketing campaign on a budget.
1. Social media marketing
One of the best ways to drive traffic to your brand and website is to harness the power of social media. It is free to create a social media account such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and the opportunities to reach a wider audience through these platforms are endless.
Companies use social media to market their products and services in multiple ways. One of the most popular marketing techniques recently is the use of community managers. Brands like Aldi and Marks and Spencers have been known to use social media to connect with their audience by posting relatable, funny tweets that encourage people to share and react to them. As a result, people show an increased interest in their brand.
The most popular platform for this style of marketing is Twitter. Aldi in particular are good at reacting to current trending topics and they have a really strong understanding of their customer base. This allows them to poke fun at things that customers say about them, such as the fact that you can go into Aldi and buy some bread but also a swimming pool for your garden!
Community managers nowadays have an important role in creating a fun atmosphere surrounding a brand. This is something that any company can do, no matter their size or reach so you can make this work for your business too.
Another way people are using social media recently to increase customer engagement is through giveaways. Some brands do this on their own or they partner with another brand that sells complementary (but not competing) products to theirs. The rules of the post are usually that the user needs to like and share the post to their own story or tag a friend in the comments, thus driving engagement up and fulfilling the human desire to win something.
The buzz that is created surrounding the post will ultimately make instagram’s algorithm think that you have created interesting content and as a result it will show your content to a wider audience, thus increasing your likelihood of being seen on the platform and gaining customers.
2. User generated content
User generated content (UGC) is content that is created by people rather than brands. This type of content can be extremely effective because consumers are a lot more likely to buy into a product if there is a genuine review from someone to back it up. The type of content can vary from someone taking a picture in their favourite outfit and tagging the brand, to a shopping haul from a high street store that someone posts on their youtube channel.
For example, ASOS ran a campaign called As Seen On Me. They asked users to send in images of them wearing or using their products and to tag them in socials. This is a great way of getting customers involved and creating a buzz around your brand.
TikTok is another great example of UGC, with many users posting videos when they come across an amazing product. In fact TikTok works so well that the videos generated by users are 22% more effective when compared with branded videos.
Another example of user generated content is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral back in 2014. This is a slightly different concept but it is a brilliant example of how users can generate buzz and how something going viral can help towards a charity. This challenge involved someone throwing a bucket of ice over their head and then nominating three friends to donate to a charity that was supporting people with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).
The fact that this challenge was funny but it also incited emotion in others who want to help and donate meant that it was a huge success. Coming up with something unusual like this and using social media to generate buzz around it is a great way of driving attention and brand awareness without it costing too much.
3. Email marketing
Email marketing is one of the most successful ways of attracting consumers and maintaining a loyal customer base without having to fork out any money. You simply need to design an email and send it out to your customer mailing list.
In your email you should include content that is useful to the reader and make sure to get in links to your website and your socials. Some people will use email marketing to offer freebies to their customers. For example, if they sign up to the mailing list they will receive a free workout guide to download, or an exclusive recipe book only available to subscribers.
Another way that brands use email to create a connection with their customers is by sending them an offer on their birthday. Miller and Carter will offer customers a free glass of prosecco with their meal, or the Body Shop offer a £5 discount in store.
These promotions make the customer think that they are saving money when in reality you will be going in store or into the restaurant and spending money either way.
Email marketing is also used to send out limited time offers and discount codes to subscribers, something else that will make the consumer believe they have to make a purchase with your brand immediately or in the next 48 hours otherwise they’ll lose the opportunity to purchase at a discounted rate. This tactic is called the scarcity tactic.
Email marketing is definitely one of the cheapest, most versatile and effective ways to market your product or service to a large audience without breaking the bank.
4. Referral marketing
Asking costumes to refer a friend but offering them something in return can be effective and simple way of attracting more customers.
Referral marketing is a clever tactic that brands use to encourage people to sign their friends up to use their service. For example, Revolut, an online banking application, offers their customers £50 if they sign up a friend to become a Revolut member. Their friend would also receive £50 if they join. The most effective way to refer people is by offering them money. They would also put a time limit on the offer, further pressuring people to sign up.
This type of marketing meant that Revolut grew 150x without having to use any paid advertising. This is a great example of how you can use another different type of marketing with very little cost and a high return.
5. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
We are big fans of SEO marketing here at Beyond and it’s certainly one of the best ways to optimise your content and get your name out there. Taking time to research keywords and phrases and content that is high performing on google and making sure your SEO strategy is on point can pay off in the long run for your business.
An example of a brand who have leveraged SEO and seen incredible results is Canva. As a result of their hard work, Canva is now valued at $6 billion USD. The company went above and beyond with their SEO strategy, taking time to really understand the intent of the user and using that to their advantage.
You can use SEO whether your budget is big or small, you just need to take time to research your niche and your keywords. Work out what makes you stand out from the crowd, build in backlinks to your website where you can, create content such as blog articles or videos and check your website is user friendly to get started.
6. Micro and macro influencers
Influencer marketing is hot right now and it is only going to grow with the increasing popularity of different social media platforms. In fact, 61% of customers are more likely to trust a recommendation from an influencer than a brand themselves. Many big brands partner with influencers who have a large following on social media and ask them to promote their products.
However, it isn’t always large-scale influencers that are successful in driving attention towards a brand. Macro-influencers (100,000-1 million followers) and Micro-influencers (10,000-100,000 followers) can sometimes be just as, if not more, effective than large-scale influencers. These people tend to have a very strong connection with their audience and they may know their audience better than anyone with millions of followers. As a result, brands like to partner with these influencers because there will be a higher return on investment.
If you’re a smaller business, try looking in your local area to see if there are any influencers who would promote your product or service online. The results can be significant if you do some research and choose the correct person.
Even big brands with large budgets have used macro-influencers as part of their marketing strategy. Coke ran a campaign where they chose some smaller influencers from Belgium to show themselves enjoying a Coca-Cola on their travels or in their day to day life to show how the drink can be integrated into everyday life. This campaign was an effort to increase their presence in the European market.
7. Video marketing
Video marketing can be an effective budget marketing technique with a high reward if executed correctly. Video content is one of the best ways to attract consumers' attention nowadays and making videos is easier than it was before with most people owning a high quality smartphone that can create good video content.
There are many platforms online that will help you make your video, such as Canva or iMovie. It is important to have a plan and a creative idea before beginning to record your video campaign, otherwise it can be time-consuming.
An example of an extremely successful video campaign where their investment into the video creation was by the Million Dollar Shave Club:
This brand took an incredibly simple thing; shaving, explained why it has been over-complicated by the media and told consumers how they want to simplify it for them.
In this video they used humour and relatable content to encourage men to become a member of their razor blade subscription service. The results of this video were astonishing and the company was acquired by Unilever in 2016 for $1 billion.
8. Customer retention methods
Making sure you keep your existing customers happy is also something important that you should be investing time in. These are the people who bought into your product or service in the first place, so they are already potentially happy and willing to buy more.
You can build a strong reputation through loyal customers. You could for example offer a loyalty scheme or discount when they spend over a certain amount. In fact, 49% of customers have admtited to spending more after joining a loyalty program.
The way you run your loyalty program could be value-based. For example, Sephora, a makeup company in the US, offered customers an opportunity to donate their loyalty points to the National Black Justice Coalition to help fight for Black Lives Matter.
Choosing a cause that is close to your customer’s heart will incite them to spend and gain more points while also giving them a chance to contribute to a charity that means something to them. Make sure you understand your customer base and choose a charity or cause that will resonate with them.
Another way to get your customers talking is to do something that is different to the crowd and unusual. For example, WeareTALA, a sustainable clothing company based in the UK, pledges that for Black Friday they will never create products specifically for their sale, unlike many other fast fashion companies who will create mass stock just to sell it off at a discounted price, with a lot of it ultimately ending up in landfill.
They encourage their customers to plan their purchases in advance and make sure they are only buying something that they really need.
By making this pledge, Tala are showing their customers that they care about the planet and supporting sustainable purchasing practices. As a result, their customers will be likely to remain loyal and supportive of the brand, while still making a purchase.
Another example of customer retention is Steven Bartlett who told his customers that he isn’t participating in Black Friday. By telling customers that his products are already priced fairly and there’s no need to discount them, it makes consumers believe more in his moral stance and values and as a result they are more likely to remain loyal and continue buying his products.
9. Direct mail campaigns
Direct mail is a method where you send out print media (flyers, leaflets, boxes, etc.) to people’s homes. This is the way marketing was done traditionally before the advent of the internet and social media.
Despite this method seeming ‘outdated’ or 'traditional'it is surprisingly effective, with statistics showing that it can have a 29% return on investment, just one percent less than social media. In fact, this method being less popular nowadays can work to your advantage meaning that people are more likely to pay an interest in what has come through their door - particularly if it offers a discount or a promotion.
A popular way that companies are using this marketing technique nowadays is through the medium of PR packages. A PR package is a personalised package with items from your business that you send out to a list of customers or influencers to try and raise your brand awareness. When people are sent packages in the post they are excited and will very often share it on social media. If the package is personalised, even better!
For example, Steven Bartlett sent out personalised diaries in his PR packages which created a connection with his audience and they were likely to post the package on their social media, creating a buzz surrounding his brand.
Overall, marketing your product or service can be done in many different ways and this can differ depending on your budget and time. It is definitely possible to market while sticking to your budget and there are lots of low cost, high reward strategies out there. You just need to make sure to understand your goals and your audience in order to get the most out of your chosen strategy.