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Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

People need to know about your brand and, while it will take up a fair chunk of your time, marketing successfully with little or no money is definitely achievable. If you’ve got a product or service that provides real value to people, there are plenty of ways that you can reach your audience without breaking the bank. Here we will look at some of the easiest ways you can grow your reach on a small (or non-existent) budget.

Utilise social media. It's important that you understand which platforms will most optimally reach your target market - you don’t have to be everywhere, but make sure you are visible. Social media is your 24/7 connection to your customers and vice versa. They won’t have to wait for opening hours in order to ask you a question and often they won’t expect your responses to stick to business house – your inbox is an easy communication tool.

Find the social platforms that work for you and your business, build your presence on them and forget about the ones that are irrelevant to your target audience.

Once you’re up and running, don’t be afraid to start following people and some of them will follow you back. If you can provide interesting content for them they’ll stick around. You could start by documenting your company development to create a brand history and encourage more of a following as you grow.

Encourage word of mouth marketing. People are subject to an endless amount of marketing messages every day, so more and more of them now rely on recommendation from friends and colleagues to cut through the noise.

To encourage people to recommend your brand, you need to make sure that your customer experience is at the very least seamless, but ideally it provides them with a journey that sticks in their mind. Beyond offering good value for money, what can you do to add to their customer experience?

Once you’ve nailed your customer journey, ask people to share! If you don’t ask your customers to share their experience, often they wouldn’t even think about it. Make sharing your brand easy by setting up social share buttons, especially if you’re offering a promotion using the other things. You can do this on the Facebook platform or through 3rd party tools such as which generates your share links.

One of the easiest ways to get someone to refer your brand is to offer them something, whether it is a prize, discount or an upgrade. Dropbox developed a now legendary referral program which gave 500mb of free space for every new sign up, netting them an extra 4million users in 15 months.

Consider affiliate programs. When someone comes to your site through an affiliate, you can agree to only pay that affiliate for this traffic if result in a conversion – i.e. a sale. You need to recruit people who will use their own website and network to convince people to buy, working on a pre-agreed commission structure. A benefit of affiliate marketing is that you'll build up your backlinks and if you’re working with well-regarded affiliates, this can have a positive effect on your SEO.

If you’re building your site on WordPress, there are lots of affiliate plugins for you to choose from to get started. You can also sign up to third party affiliate networking sites, but this won’t be free.

You can find these on the affiliate networking platforms if you’re using them otherwise you’re going to need to do some good old-fashioned research to find the right people for you.

Join a networking group. Don’t forget the power of person-to-person selling – growing your network of contacts can have a valuable boost on your company. You can make contact who will help, you to reach new audience or you may even find a future business partner. Look out for industry events that give you’re the opportunity to meet new people and grow from them. One of the most obvious benefits for face to face networking is increased business.

The leads that you get through networking are normally high quality and most of the time are even pre-qualified for you which can make is a lot easier to turn them into customers. It may take up your time, but the bottom line is that when done right, you will be getting much higher quality leads from networking than other forms of marketing.

In the future, when those who you’ve networked with come in contact with someone who is looking for product you deliver, they’re more likely to recommend you because they have a personal relationship with you, which gives you a leg up on your competition.
You could also look at sponsoring a meeting to gain more brand exposure to the professionals that are in attendance!

Without huge budgets and glittering campaigns, it may take a little while to get your marketing generating income, but if you put the time into your online presence there are plenty of ways you can be effective on a small budget. Aim to create relationships that encourage sharing, as having other people share your content because they want to be is extremely powerful in todays crowded marketplace.
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