Marketing Your Business on a Shoestring Budget
Today, marketing any type of business online for very little money is completely possible and doable. You just need to realize that in most cases the main cost for doing these types of marketing will be time and effort.
Many people start online businesses while they work at another job during the day (raise your hand, if that’s you too), and due to their responsibilities they need to start as inexpensively as possible.
Fortunately, there are many ways to start marketing your business on a shoestring budget that really work. These are things you will want to do even when you make more money and can afford to get help. You’ll want to keep doing them because they work well.
Even if you do marketing that is essentially free in terms of dollars put out to do it, as stated most things will at least take your time. Time is also money, so if I mention something that takes a lot of time that you don’t have, and you can earn more per hour than it takes for you to hire someone to do it for you, then you should consider doing that. You will still be marketing for less. The key is doing things that get results, and then no matter how much time or money it takes, if you get results that include a return on your investment, it’s worth it.
We’ll go through several ways to market a business on a shoestring budget, and explain how you can do it effectively and inexpensively. So, let’s get started…
The Old-Fashioned Press Release
Don’t discount the press release in how it can garner buzz about your business. Having said that, a press release needs to be in the right format no matter where you’re sending it. You can learn more about that format by checking out MediaCollege.com to see what the format looks like. When you create your press release you need to use this format.
- Doing It Right – Stick to the standard format above and don’t try to reinvent the wheel. There are reasons to stick to the format and one is that if you don’t, it’s not a press release.
- Why It Works – Whether it’s a slow news day or something else, people are essentially lazy. They prefer good stories to fall in their lap rather than having to find them. If you can deliver stories to fill out the news cycle then you could be on the front page, go viral, or more.
- When to Do It – Anytime you have a new product, new service, product launch, book published, a webinar, or other newsworthy event, send out a press release about it. Don’t send out frivolous releases but do send them out when something special is happening.
- How to Do It – You can use a service like PRWeb.com, which is expensive to do right. Alternatively, you can collect the right contact information for people who can use your press releases, both locally and nationally. Sending them directly to the right person will actually get better results anyway. Tip: Build relationships with the press, offering yourself for quotes and information on your niche.
- Put Them on Your Site – In addition to putting the press release out to the professionals, add them to your website as PDFs for media to download for more information about your business.
- Online Press Releases Are Dynamic – You can add images, website links, and more to press releases today. It’s important to add everything you can to make the most of your online press releases.
It’s important to take it seriously about doing press releases right. There is no point to sending them in a blanket blast to everyone. Instead, send each press release to a contact with a personal note so that you’re taken more seriously and they will be more likely to publish the information.
Networking is any activity you do that involves meeting other people. You can network both online and offline. You can network in person, too. As technology improves, a lot of online networking such as Google Hangouts and webinars are starting to feel more and more like in-person networking.
But, even if you plan to have a fully online business, getting out of your comfort zone and networking locally and also going to live events is a great way to network. It also doesn’t have to be super expensive.
Networking In Person
A really good way to network that is not expensive is to network in person. There are so many ways to do this, such as volunteering for a cause, joining a professional association, or going to local meet-ups that you can find on Meetup.com. Networking is a great way to market your business even when you do have the funds to spend on other methods.
- Getting Prepared – Before you go to a live event, consider the type of event you’re going to. Are you networking with your audience, or colleagues? How you prepare will be determined with that information. Always consider your audience.
- Business Cards – Always take business cards with you regardless of the audience, but don’t just throw them into people’s faces. Take your time getting to know people and give them to those you really want to connect with later. (Look for a great business card, check out MOO Cards.)
- Elevator Speech – Some people say the elevator speech is dead but that’s not true. You need to have some way of telling your audience what you do that they’ll understand. You can develop more than one speech that lasts less than a minute, based on questions asked, but you must have one.
Need an elevator speech? Click here to create the perfect elevator speech.
- Getting Involved – When you join any type of group, or go to any type of networking event, it’s helpful if you get involved. You can volunteer to speak, or help with some other aspect of the event. That enables you to prove your talents in a tangible way.
- Build Relationships – Networking is all about building relationships. If you keep that focus on relationships rather than selling, you’ll be super-successful.
- Follow Up – When you meet connections, it’s important to follow up with them if you say you’re going to. Have lunch or coffee outside of the networking event, email them, get them to join your email lists, and find ways to relate with them and help them.
In-person events are wonderful ways to network, get more business, make contacts, get referrals and more. Plus, the cost of entry will be more than worth it if you do the work necessary to show who you are and what you can do. Focus on building relationships and don’t just focus on who can do things for you – think of how you can help them too.
You can also network online and get great results. One great thing about online networking is that for the most part it’s free. You can even go to webinars that allow for networking via the chat room. Your options are limitless when it comes to online networking.
- Social Media – Using social media like LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook are great ways to network with others. As long as you avoid unnecessary automation and interact socially with others on social media, you can build relationships with many people.
- Develop Awesome Profiles – Don’t skimp on creating full profiles with headshots that show your face and eyes. People want to feel as if they know you. As you create the profile, resist the urge to frame things in terms of yourself. Instead, always think of your audience as you choose your words.
- Avoiding Traps – Social media and online networking can turn into a huge time suck. The best way to avoid this problem is to set time limits on when you can be there for fun and when you are there for networking.
- Getting Involved – Like offline groups, you can volunteer your time in various ways, such as speaking at webinars, posting information on groups, answering questions when they are asked and more. This is a chance to show your expertise.
- Sharing Knowledge – The more you share your knowledge, the more the members will see you as an expert. An expert is someone who is sought after, who can command higher fees, and who sells their products for higher amounts.
- Being a Resource – The more you can be a resource to others, the more they will grow to trust you and think of you when they need something. Freely give your advice to others, and even recommend experts for people when they need it.
- Follow the Rules – Every online networking group has rules that you need to follow. Read them and keep track of them so that you don’t break them accidentally. You want to honor what the leader of the group wants.
Networking online can do wonders for your business and help you market on any type of budget. After all, social media is free. The most you’ll spend is time if you do it all yourself. Building relationships with others is one of the most important ways you can market your business without a lot of money.
Using YouTube for Marketing
One inexpensive way to market your business online is via YouTube. With YouTube you upload videos about your niche to a channel that you create in your name or your business name. The large network of YouTube users search for information using keywords and terms in the search bar, and they find your video. They can also leave comments and make response videos based on your video.
- Making Videos Work – Know who your audience is, make videos for them that solve their problems and answer their questions. Try to upload them regularly; the best channels upload a short one- or two-minute video each day.
- Software to Help – YouTube offers their own editor and you can use many different types of cameras to create videos that are good enough for YouTube. But you can also use Camtasia or ScreenFlow for Mac and of course there’s free editing software like Windows Movie Maker or iMovie for Mac.
- Technology That Helps – Using a good camera is important, but today you can use your smartphone like an iPhone to take videos that are good enough to use for YouTube marketing. Don’t feel like you have to spend hundreds; look around at what you already have. Your webcam may be perfectly fine to use for now.
- Make the Videos Short – Upload video on a regular basis that is short and to the point, directed at your audience. Don’t get off topic. Pick small issues to discuss or explain in each video, and you can’t go wrong.
- Do Videos Often – When you first start out, sticking to a taping and publication schedule will help you get the most out of YouTube marketing. If you can do short videos on a daily basis, you’ll build up your channel faster.
- Remember Your Call to Action – A CTA at the end of each video is expected and preferred to marketing throughout the video. Ask people to like, follow, share, and to comment. Also include links in the description box.
- Fill Out Descriptions Fully – On YouTube there is space for a description, tags, a title, and more. You should fill it all out completely and use all the space appropriately. Make sure that you put links to products you mention, your website, and more in the description area.
- Improve As You Go – Don’t focus on perfection at first; instead focus on getting things published. You can learn how to do videos with practice and you’ll improve as you go. YouTube marketing has every opportunity to give you a huge return on investment.
Don’t forget that YouTube videos can also be embedded into your own website and blog. In fact, you should do that for every video that you publish so that you can promote them from your website instead of promoting them from YouTube.
Also, don’t only upload videos to YouTube; also upload them to other video sharing sites that are relevant. The more places you put them, the better. Currently there is not a duplicate content penalty for video, so you can safely put them up everywhere.
Blogging Your Way to Success
One of the most popular methods of marketing on a shoestring is blogging. Blogging is a very powerful, though long-term, marketing method that gets results. It’s important that your blog is on your website and not on an external blogging site where they own the content. You want to own all your own content.
Nine Tips to Making It Work
Blogging is one of the most powerful ways to market your business on a shoestring budget if you know what you’re doing. It may take some practice before you get good at it, and it will definitely take perseverance. But if you have that, you can get a lot of business by simply blogging your way to success.
- Blog Regularly – It’s important that you update your content on a regular basis, and at first you should shoot to fill your blog with content three to five times a week. Once you have over 300 pages, you can cut down to weekly blogs.
- Know Your Audience – Before you write a single blog post, it’s essential that you know who your audience is, what their problems are and how you can solve them. Plus, you need to know how all that ties in with your products and services.
- Understand Your Niche – Study all you can about your niche, including your competition and the industry as a whole. The more you know, the more you can share with your audience, and the more valuable of a resource you become.
- Include Keyword-Rich Titles – Going nuts with keywords is no longer necessary, but you should still use them in titles, headers, and subtitles. This will enable search engines to locate the content but it will also intrigue your audience.
- Make the Content Unique – The content on your blog and website should be 100 percent unique to you. You can check it using software like Copyscape.com or Grammarly.com.
- Share Other People’s Content – An exception to unique content is that you can share other people’s content if you do it right. Include a blurb about the content you’re sharing, and link to it where it was originally posted. Some people will do a weekly or monthly round-up of articles they found helpful.
- Keep Your Comments Open – A great way to encourage user-generated content is to ask for comments and then comment back to people. You can have entire discussions right on the blog in the comments.
- Use Relevant Images – An image is worth a thousand words, as they say, so you should be using them to help explain your message to your reader.
- Use a Variety of Formats – Don’t just use one type of blog post. Try to use a lot of different formats and types of content for your blogs, such as “how to” posts, long-form posts, guides, vlogs and more.
Using these tips will help you market your business on a shoestring using blogging. Blogging regularly, in a relevant manner, will bring your audience to you. But you also need to remember to promote the things you publish. Just like you promote your YouTube videos, promote your blogs regardless of which form or type they happen to be in.
Finding Topics to Write About
The best way to find topics to write about is to start from the beginning with the minutia about your niche. Don’t assume your audience has already seen everything or that you can’t tell them about it in a new way. Even if other people are talking about the same thing, you will do it differently and appeal to your own audience.
- Forums and Message Boards – Find out which forums your audience uses and go there and observe. What are they talking about? What are the titles they give their new posts? Use this information to formulate ideas of what to write about.
- Read Comments on Other Blog Posts – Read industry blog posts, and then read the comments. What is the audience saying? What questions are they asking? You can use these questions and comments as fodder for new blog posts and articles.
- Questions Asked by Others in Groups – Both LinkedIn and Facebook have groups that you can join. Find groups that consist of your ideal audience and observe what they are talking about. These are all ideas for blog posts.
- Read Industry News – Subscribe to online and offline magazines for your industry so you can keep up to date on new technology and information. This will help you with increasing your knowledge so that you can find more topics to write about.
- Keep a Swipe File – You don’t want to plagiarize so be very careful, but use something like Evernote.com to keep a file full of interesting quotes and information that you can use to write about.
- Brainstorm – At least weekly, sit down and give yourself 15 minutes on a timer to list everything that you can think of to write about. Keep in Evernote or on a publication calendar that you can make with Excel, and upload to Google Drive.
Finally, it can’t be said enough that it’s essential to keep notes at all times. If you don’t keep notes, you will not remember what you thought about while you were showering, shopping, or out with your friends. Keeping a running list of ideas that come to mind, then doing research on those ideas, you’ll be sure to have plenty of content to write about when you’re ready to sit down and write.
Evernote is one of my most used business tools.
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Maintaining Consistency in Your Content
The most successful blogs are consistently updated with unique content of interest to their audience. To be consistent you need to take a look at the products and or services that you plan to promote, plus take into consideration what time of year it is and the holidays coming up. Create a publication calendar to help you stay consistent in your blogging.
Finding Your Voice
When you first start blogging it can be hard to figure out how you want to come across. You may want to be funny, or serious, or irreverent. It’s up to you how you want to do it, but the most important thing you can do is be true to yourself.
Getting Help with Content
Even if you’re on a budget, you can find content to help you market on a shoestring. You can get private label rights (PLR) content that helps you develop topics by using it as research and totally rewriting it to make it original and unique, or you can hire a ghost writer. You can also ask for guest blog posts from people.
If you’re not familiar with PLR content, click here for information.
Promoting Your Content
Another key to marketing with blogging is to not just publish content, but to promote the content that you publish. You can promote it via social media, add buttons so that others can easily share via social media and ask people to like, share, and comment on your content.
Using blogging as a way to market your business on a shoestring is an excellent way to promote your business, and a very effective way to boot. Keep doing it; it’s a long-term strategy that becomes more effective the more you do it.
Using Public Speaking to Gain Expertise Status
Public speaking is a very popular and effective way to get the word out about your business and yourself as an expert. Not only is it inexpensive to do, but you can actually earn income on the side. The more people view you as an expert, the more people who will want what you have to offer.
- Developing Your Talk – You know your audience and your niche, so it’s important that you decide what you want to talk about. Make some PowerPoints, and gather some information so that you can develop the material in readiness for speaking opportunities.
- Finding Gigs – To find speaking opportunities, simply be open to them happening and let people know that you want to speak. Show them the topics you can speak about. Get listed with speakers bureaus of various groups and organizations.
- Adjusting for Audience – Even though you’ve developed a few talks that you can give, once you get a speaking gig slightly adjust the talk to match the audience that you will be speaking in front of.
- Following Up – Always follow up with any group you speak with or to, and offer them a way to contact you. Leave them information to visit your website, sign up for your email list, and connect with you on social media.
- Practicing – It’s important to practice as much as you can. You can actually use other mediums for practice, like making YouTube presentations for example. This can be a great way to show your talent as a public speaker too.
Speaking will improve your expertise quotient every time you show up to speak, whether it’s in person or online. Take the opportunities that come your way, whether it’s appearing free or it’s a paid gig. You’ll be glad you did.
Publishing EBooks for Promotion
Another way to market your business is to create a book as your calling card. Today it’s easier than ever to publish a book because you can publish for free on Kindle, without anyone’s approval. You can also make your books PDFs and have them available for download on your website. Alternatively, you can use print on demand via CreateSpace.com or another company.
- Giving It Away – When you publish an eBook or report, you can give it away in exchange for email addresses to get someone on your list. You can also give the books to people you meet as a more in-depth business card.
- Including Links – Include affiliate links as well as links back to your site and newsletter so that you will capture people’s attention, even if you give the book away for free. When you ensure that the book helps show people what you know and where they can find out more, the book becomes a great marketing tool.
- Establishing Expertise – A book is a sure-fire way to show your knowledge. After all, to put things down in black and white you have to know enough of what you’re talking about to fill up a book. Once you do it you can call yourself an author, and you can also prove that you’re an expert.
- Being Quoted – When you are trying to market on a shoestring, one of the neatest things is to be quoted by other people. You can do it by publishing because the more you publish, the more people will want to quote you. You can also use a service called Help a Reporter Out. It’s a service that enables you to answer calls for quotes and interviews on topics that reporters need information on.
You don’t have to write a long manuscript to publish. It can be about 10,000 words, which if you think about it is only 20 articles that are 500 words each. You can do that in a week if you set your mind to it.
Starting an Email List Is Essential
Everything has to revolve around one really important thing when it comes to shoestring marketing, and that is your email list. Email lists are probably the most important aspect of online marketing that you can do. Getting people to trade their email address for a report and information is a great way to build the list.
Why You Need a List
An email list enables you to market to your audience many times over. People do buy from and get information from email. Email is not dead, and in fact is still more profitable to marketers than any other form of marketing. It works even better if you build a list full of targeted audience members who truly need and want what you have.
Developing an Irresistible Offer
One of the ways to get people on your email list is to make your audience an offer that they really need and want. The trick is ensuring that the offer is something only your target audience would want to have and something they will certainly not question trading an email address for. Sit down and brainstorm what you want to offer – an app, an eBook, a report, checklists, and other information will work well.
Software for Lists
There is a lot of software out there to help you run your email list. The best known are probably AWeber.com and MailChimp.com. Both of these services allow you to segment your market, develop autoresponder series, and make attractive emails in either HTML or text with easy-to-use templates.
Tips for Building Your List Fast
You need to do things to build your list, such as host webinars, guest present at webinars, or have a contest. Do whatever you can to get the word out about your email list and how beneficial it is for your audience to sign up for it, so they don’t miss out. Make building your email list a top priority.
Keeping Your List Engaged
There are many ways to keep your list engaged, such as sending polls, asking them to visit a blog post and make comments, asking their opinion on a new product title, or letting them choose the cover art for your new eBook. These types of things will keep them engaged and wanting to read more of what you say and take your advice on many issues, because they feel like they know you.
Building email lists is something you should focus on at all times. In fact, almost everything you do online – whether it’s engage on social media, blogging, speaking, or something else buzz-worthy – should be done with a focus of building your email list.
Creating buzz online so that you can market your business on a shoestring is completely possible. You can do it all yourself with the only cost being your time and effort. It’s worth repeating that pretty much everything you do online is free other than your time, so that means nothing should hold you back.
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Your Next Step…
We’ve covered many different ways to market online on a shoestring budget. Pick one or two of these methods and get started. Implementation is the key to success when it comes to marketing.
Consider starting with blogging in writing, and by creating videos. These are two that you can do alone, with mostly free software, and very little skill. If you can talk, you can write. If you can talk, you can make videos.
Add email marketing into every type of marking you do to ensure success, because the key to marketing your business on a shoestring budget is truly your email list. They don’t say that the money is in the list by accident – it really is.
Get started today with building that list and you’ll start to see huge results within just a few short months.