Big Results on a Small Budget

3 min read

This story appears in the March 2009 issue of Start Up. Subscribe »

Are you starting your on a tight budget? Don't be frustrated by the high price of some tactics. There are many great ways to reach your target audience, even if you aren't flush with funds. The key is to figure out exactly who your best prospects are and then find creative methods to reach that core group of customers.

Ensure that the people you work with have the skills necessary to expand your business.

When launching a business, it's not uncommon for new entrepreneurs to quickly exhaust their limited marketing dollars by casting too wide a net. The solution is to aim your marketing at your top prospects by using only affordable tactics that allow you to reach them with enough frequency for your message to penetrate. Later, when your marketing budget grows, you can add additional methods that target a wider audience.

Here are four smart, low-cost ways to reach your best prospects:

  1. Send coupons by mail. With the current consumer emphasis on saving money, coupons are seeing a strong resurgence. One type of affordable coupon that has always stayed in favor is sent via "marriage mail" to households through Valpak and other similar providers. Marriage mail combines coupon offers from a variety of advertisers in one direct-mail package--it's a great way for businesses to reach households in designated ZIP codes for vastly less than the price of stand-alone direct mail.
  2. Use local paid search. When your prospects search online, who will they find first, you or your competitors? The best way to guarantee your company appearing at or near the top of search results is through pay-per-click . Being at the top of the page is critical to getting noticed, as most searchers rarely go past the first page of results. And the good news is that local paid search is often quite affordable and is readily available through , Yahoo and other search engines.
  3. E-mail your in-house list. If you're looking for a low-cost, high-ROI marketing tactic, e-mail is right on the money. The key to gaining results from an e-mail marketing campaign is to send it to an in-house list of your own customers and prospects who've agreed to receive information from you. It's OK to e-mail as often as 12 to 24 times a year to your own in-house database, provided you keep the content relevant and never spam. Use a vendor such as that provides easy-to-use design templates, sends your e-mails and cleans your list for a low monthly fee.
  4. Get press coverage. When consumers are asked which factors have the greatest influence on their buying decisions, they routinely rank articles or other published information at the very top. is all about creating contacts that lead to getting coverage, and you can run your own campaign for next to nothing. Start by creating a list of the media that your best prospects look to for information on what you sell, and then identify the editors or journalists to contact. Send a press release that meets the specific interests of the media you're pitching to, and follow up. Learn what information your contacts need, and tailor your ongoing campaign to help you land coverage over time.
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