How to Manage Marketing on a Low Budget Smart, targeted marketing will give you the greatest return on investment while minimizing your spend
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
It doesn't matter what industry you're in: your business idea will only sell if it's marketed properly. For new entrepreneurs, marketing is often a daunting process. It's not easy to find the right marketing mix for the right audience. While the amount of money you set aside plays a key role, not everyone has an unlimited marketing budget. Smart, targeted marketing will give you the greatest return on investment while minimizing your spend. Let's have a look at some of the best ways to manage marketing on a low budget.
Keep in mind that these suggestions are universal. Even if you have a large marketing budget, these high-return approaches can be invaluable when optimizing your strategy.
The Internet has fundamentally changed the way people buy and sell products. E-commerce was just a buzzword a few years ago. Today, it's a mammoth, $40 billion industry. Nearly half of all Indians shop online regularly. In this situation, digital is an indispensable part of your overall marketing strategy. Here are some cost-effective ways to leverage digital marketing.
Buyers are always more comfortable when they can ascertain who they're buying from. Fill out a Google Business listing. Create and host a company's website. Create business accounts on social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, and post regularly.
It's important to note here that search engines such as Google regularly crawl your online content and correlate material related to you across multiple platforms. Search engines serve your online content to your audience, meaning how you appear to them is very important. Google sketches out descriptions for notable individuals and businesses based on online content about them. Make sure to have enough content tied to your brand to get that description panel.
It's not enough to set up pages for your business on social media sites. You need to have a content strategy in place to regularly push relevant content to your audience over these channels. Your Facebook page, your Instagram and your Twitter account are all channels that enable direct interaction with your audience.
Use them to proactively engage with your target audience. This is an easy way to get genuine, positive feedback that makes for great promotional material. Customers are increasingly using online platforms to air complaints. Rectify any issues as quickly as possible.
Google and Facebook ads have revolutionized targeting marketing. Define your target markets, create content that resonates with them, then run high-value ad campaigns. One way of looking at a low marketing budget is to see it as a focused, targeted budget. Compared with traditional marketing channels, spend per head is very low on online platforms. This means that it's still possible to reach a relatively large, but focused audience. Define who you're going to reach out to in terms of geographic limit, demographics, interests and a whole range of other factors. Every buyer characteristic you think of narrows the circle, focuses your audience and reduces your spend.
Look for social media micro-influencers in your product niche and engage with them. As a brand, even a smaller one, it can often be difficult to ensure that your communication resonates with buyers at a personal level. There's an inherent, perceived objectivity deficit in your suggestions and recommendations. Micro-influencers can help you overcome this. Micro-influencers have strong personal associations with their audiences. Their audiences identify with them.
"People next door' and their opinions are often seen as being more credible than those of larger players. Micro-influencer marketing tends to be cost-effective: if you sell a physical product, micro-influencers will often be happy to review free test units.
Leverage cost-effective advances in AI and automation. Modern CRMs are inexpensive and can automate time-intensive processes such as sending out mass emails. Direct communication channels such as email are far cheaper than paid-for advertising. This means that you can potentially reach a large, targeted audience for much less than the price of a Google advert. Tools such as Salesforce let you select and filter leads to funnel communication to.
When reaching out, though, remember that your message needs to add value for the consumer. It needs to stand out. People receive email advertisements every single day, to the point that most are relegated to the spam filter and never even seen. Consider creating a newsletter or a free eBook, or sending out a referral promotion—anything that adds value from the consumer's point of view. Then automate this communication. Simply automatic generic messages is a waste of time and a good way to get flagged as a spammer.
Remember to stay connected to the buyer, without being disruptive. Research shows that the purchase cycle takes 20 days on average, from the customer first googling your brand or product, to actually purchasing it. Use consistent, but non-intrusive communication to gently nudge the buyer towards making a purchase.
Conventional Strategies are Still Relevant
We live in an era where data is the new oil. But despite aggressive digital expansion, we must not forget that we're still a country that is 70 per cent rural. Smartphone penetration is still only around 35 per cent. This means that conventional marketing is far from irrelevant. We'll now show you some conventional approaches that maximize value.
Set up pop-up stores in cities to assess demand. This is a cost-effective way of providing physical retail access before investing in a full-fledged location.
Pamphlets and newspaper ads never go out of fashion. If your product targets a wide demographic, these are two approaches that put actionable information directly in the hands of buyers.
Offer initial discounts and coupons. India is a price-sensitive market and competitive pricing will go a long way towards winning consumer goodwill.
Judiciously sponsor events such as college festivals or marathons if they provide brand visibility to your target audience.
Set up standees and makeshift stores at public events. This is an inexpensive way to directly interact with your customers.
Word of mouth is always relevant. Encourage your customers to spread the word to their friends and family. Incentivise the loyal customer and welcome new ones with equal vigor.
Nurture B2B relations and invest in product placement. Shelf visibility is a powerful way of facilitating direct sales.
Conclusion: A Smart Marketing Budget is Always Best
It's not always about the money you have to spend on marketing. What matters most is maximizing the returns on your time, effort and investment. Targeted, smart marketing approaches are cost-effective and can net you the results you want. Think about this the next time you consider purchasing that front-page spread in the paper.