By Neil Patel
Not everyone has unlimited funds for a marketing budget.
Even those of you with a high bank balance shouldn’t dump every dollar into marketing without a plan. I understand how much you want to promote your business, but you need to come up with ways that efficiently accomplish this.
You don’t need to spend tons of money on marketing. Trust me, I know from experience.
I’ve gone through both paths with my business ventures. There were times when I spent tons of money on marketing and other times when I paid as little as possible.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying spending doesn’t always pay off. But there are still plenty of marketing tactics you can use that won’t break the bank.
I’ve outlined the top low-budget strategies to promote your brand. I’ve seen results with these methods in my own businesses and those I helped in my consulting work.
These are the top 10 ways to market your business on a budget.
1. Create and distribute videos
Despite popular belief, you don’t need to spend a ton of money to create video content.
You can easily do this yourself without hiring a professional. Don’t waste money on fancy equipment. You can probably get away with using your smartphone to record videos.
Otherwise, invest in a decent camera and microphone. Those will be your only expenses.
Videos help businesses benefit from higher conversion rates and click-through rates.
Look at those numbers. If you’re not currently using video content as a marketing tactic, you need to start right away.
Now is the time to get on board with this trend: 80% of global Internet traffic will be video by 2019.
Nearly half of consumers browse the Internet for videos related to products and services before buying something. Don’t just create one or two videos—make as many as possible.
The reason why I love using videos as a marketing tactic is because they are versatile. It’s easy to distribute the same videos across all your marketing channels.
I recommend uploading all your videos to YouTube first. Then, you can embed the videos onto your website or share clips on social media. You can even send videos to people on your email subscription list.
What kind of videos should you make?
Upload anything that shows your brand in a positive light.
Think about the data I just shared with you about consumers using videos to shop. Creating instructional content or how-to videos can be a great way to market your company.
2. Make lots of infographics
Building an infographic is easy and free. You just need to make sure you design them well.
In order to illustrate the value of this marketing tool, I’ll show you an infographic as an example:
Look how easy it is to read this information. Sure, I could have written it out, but that gets boring. Only 16% of people read content word for word. But 79% of people scan pages.
Since visuals are much more appealing and easier to comprehend, they jump off the page at people who are scanning.
I know what you’re thinking. This is all great information, but how can infographics be used as a marketing tactic?
If your website has infographics, other sites will use them to improve their own content.
I didn’t create the infographic I used above. But I added a link to give credit to the source. People who use your infographics will do the same.
These links will help drive more traffic to your website. Plus, they will also improve your search engine optimization.
Just make sure all of the data from your infographics is accurate and up to date. Nobody wants to use research from 1999 on their website.
3. Publish high quality content
For the most part, this tactic should be very obvious. However, I see so many businesses producing sub-par content that I thought it needed to be said.
Publishing great content is free, and you can do it yourself. Even if you’re not a great writer, you can still come up with easy blog topics to write about.
Don’t try to tackle a writing assignment that’s over your head. Stick to ones that you can manage, like lists or best practices for your industry.
Introduce yourself, and master the art of storytelling.
The average time it takes to write a blog post has been steadily increasing over the past few years.
I know you’re busy, but I’m sure you can find the time to write high quality content, especially if you’re posting only a couple of times per week.
For those of you who are already at capacity with your time and who are not great writers, there are cost-effective alternatives.
You can hire a writer or pay a freelancer, or you can produce content in-house. Someone on your team must be a decent writer. Assign these tasks to that employee.
You’re already paying them a salary or hourly wage, so it’s not like this will drastically increase your costs.
4. Stay active on Instagram
Instagram is one of the best social media channels for marketing your business. This platform has more than 500 million daily active users.
Plus, it’s easy to post content on Instagram. Unlike a blog post which can take hours to write and edit, Instagram is just pictures.
Sure, you still need to write Instagram captions that drive engagement, but that’s easy.
In 2017, the percentage of businesses in the United States using Instagram as a marketing channel surpassed the percentage of companies using Twitter.
Other companies are recognizing how important and valuable this social media platform is. If you’re not actively pursuing customers on Instagram, you can bet your competition is.
In addition to being free, Instagram is great because you’ve got many different options. It’s easy to post pictures and videos to your profile, but your reach doesn’t stop there.
You can also add content to your Instagram story and even take advantage of Instagram Live.
Add links to your bio to drive traffic to your website. Respond directly to your followers through comments and direct messages.
Those of you who have some extra funds in your marketing budget can pay for targeted Instagram ads as well.
5. Don’t neglect your email subscriber list
If you’re collecting email addresses and have an active subscriber list, make sure you’re taking advantage of it. This is a service you’re already paying for.
Depending on what platform you’re using, you’re probably being charged per subscriber. Once you hit a certain threshold, your monthly or annual cost may increase. That’s OK.
A growing subscriber list is great news. These are people who want to hear from you. The majority of people on this list are probably your current customers.
All too often I see businesses focus on acquiring new customers as opposed to focusing on their existing ones. This is a big mistake.
Not only is it much harder to sell to new customers, but it’s also more expensive.
One of the top benefits of email marketing is that it has a huge return on investment compared to other methods.
Focus on your weekly or monthly newsletter. Make sure you’re creating valuable content that drives sales.
Send discounts and other promotional emails to your subscribers—don’t underestimate the value of a coupon.
Fifty-eight percent of people say they prefer to receive coupons, discounts, and promotions via email.
Combine your other marketing tactics with your email campaigns. Earlier I talked about creating video content. You can add those videos to your marketing emails.
6. Recycle old content
If you’re really tapped out and low on funds and time, it can be tough to figure out ways to market your company. It’s time to get creative.
You can reuse your old content to stay fresh. For example, take your old blog posts and turn them into an ebook. Create content upgrades for old articles.
Those of you who have conducted research and have lots of raw data can turn that data into graphs, charts, and infographics.
Dig deep through your old marketing materials. Do you have coupons, flyers, or other promotional items that were never used? As long as they don’t have an expiration date, you can distribute them.
7. Run a contest that encourages user-generated content (UGC)
Encouraging user-generated content is one of my favorite marketing strategies. The reason why I love it so much is because it’s free.
Sure, if you’re running a contest, you’ll have to give away a product or gift card, but that’s a marginal cost compared to the brand exposure you’ll get from these campaigns.
UGC creates social proof of influence.
It’s super easy to run a contest that will have this type of effect on your target audience.
You can use Instagram or other social media platforms to run your contest. Keep it simple. Ask your followers to post a picture using one of your products and a customized hashtag to enter.
Then, at a predetermined date, award the prize to the post with the most likes. As a result, you’ll have hundreds or potentially thousands of people posting about your company on social media.
This exposes your brand to a wider audience. That’s because anyone who follows the people who participated in the contest will see those posts.
According to research, 92% of consumers trust online posts from their family and friends—compared to other forms of brand messaging. Plus, half of consumers say UGC is more memorable than content produced by brands.
More than half of Millennials say user-generated content influences their purchasing decisions.
8. Launch a customer referral program
Customer referral programs are beneficial for the same reasons as user-generated content. If someone gets referred to a business by a friend or family member, they’re more likely to trust that brand.
Rather than spending extra money on trying to acquire new customers, let your current customers do it for you. But give them an incentive to do so.
While it would be great if your customers did this for free, it just doesn’t happen that way. More than half of businesses rely on referrals to get new customers.
The best way to encourage referrals from your current as well as prospective customers is to make it worth their while.
For example, if your business generates an average purchase order of $250, offering your customers a $5 discount for a referral isn’t going to get them motivated.
I understand that $5 per referral can add up, but customers don’t see it that way. Instead, consider something like Uber’s old customer referral program.
They offered a $20 credit to new as well as existing riders who referred a friend. That $20 could be enough to cover an entire ride.
Come up with a referral system that will motivate your customers to recommend your brand to their friends and family.
9. Take advantage of any guest-posting opportunities
Instead of just writing blog posts for your own website, you should contribute to other blogs as well. In my consulting work, I see many companies that are hesitant to do this because they don’t see the value.
Why should they spend time creating content for someone else’s website? I’ll tell you why.
Guest posts generate free exposure for your brand. You can get your name out there to a new audience that may not even know your company exists.
In addition to the exposure, you’ll be able to drive traffic to your website through referral links within your guest posts.
Links to your site from other websites help boost your search ranking, based on Google’s algorithm.
10. Broadcast live
I know I’ve already talked about the benefits of creating video content and using social media. But live videos combine both of these strategies into one free marketing method.
Go live on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
Live videos help create a more authentic interaction with your audience. The opportunities are endless.
Use your live video stream to host a question and answer segment with your social media followers. Respond to their comments in real time.
Ask your customers to give you feedback about your products and services. You can even run a contest through your live video broadcast.
Live video content is growing at a faster rate than other forms of online videos.
Research shows 80% of consumers prefer watching a live video from a business as opposed to reading a blog post. Plus, 82% of consumers say they would rather watch a live video than read a post from a brand on social media.
You can give your customers exactly what they want without having to spend much money doing it.
Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of ways for you to promote your brand without emptying your bank account.
Start uploading videos to YouTube, and distribute them to all your marketing channels.
Create infographics, and make sure you’re always producing high quality content. Write guest posts as well.
Stay active on social media platforms, especially Instagram. Use these channels to run contests that encourage user-generated content. You can also create a customer referral program.
If you’re pressed for time, recycle and update some of your old content.
Send emails to your active subscribers. Broadcast live videos.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to successfully market your brand without having to spend too much money.
What cost-effective marketing tactics do you use to stay within your budget?