2020 has not been kind to small businesses. According to PNAS, 43% of businesses in the United States have temporarily closed due to Covid-19. On average, active employment has gone down by a staggering 39%.
Ouch. With the pandemic showing no signs of slowing down as the year draws to a close, business owners are understandably trying to cut costs.
But no matter what industry you’re in, your marketing budget still needs to exist in some form. You need to get people through the doors, especially under current market conditions. In this guide, we’ll give you 3 powerful ways to market your business on a limited budget.
Snail Mail Is Still Effective in 2020 (and Beyond!)
When email and digital marketing became a ‘thing’, small businesses made the smart decision of ditching expensive newspaper, television, and radio advertising. For most companies, it no longer made financial sense.
The ROI with digital is generally a lot better. Or at least it used to be. The market is a little oversaturated these days, but business owners are forgetting that old school can still work. Especially now that the competition isn’t there like it used to be.
Consider the following stat: people will open 92% of snail mail. Ask yourself this, how many advertising emails do you delete without even looking at the subject line? Exactly.
MailChimp, an email marketing company, uses a 15-29% open rate as a selling point. Imagine upping that to over 92%. They’d be plastering that stat all over the place. And that’s what you get with snail mail.
Not only that, studies have shown that flyers, catalogues, and other physical mail are far more influential in affecting consumer behaviour. In other words, if someone opens an email vs snail mail, it’s the latter that will most likely leave a behavioural imprint.
You may object to snail mail, citing that it’s just too expensive. But you can run campaigns using a limited budget, for example by opting for budget postcards over expensive, glossy catalogues.
Use Your Expertise on Social Media
Here’s another tip that won’t cost you much (if any) money: become an influencer in your industry. You’ve spent years honing your craft, you know everything there is to know about your product or service, why not flaunt it?
And no, an influencer isn’t necessarily someone who shows off their beach bods or pushes yet another diet product. Influencers are, on the whole, regular people who know what they’re talking about (they’re just not as well-known as the Kim Kardashians of this world).
Influencer marketing is a super cheap way to get new customers. Don’t sell when you do it, but just provide helpful advice and good content. Over time, people will find your stuff through various avenues: Instagram, Facebook, or Youtube, for example.
You’ll carve out a reputation as a trusted source, and while most people won’t become customers, many will. And they’ll generally be quite loyal to your brand, as you’ve shown yourself to be an authority in your niche.
Run a (Free!) Promotion
Give your stuff away for free during a pandemic, are you nuts? Okay, we get the scepticism. It’s a little counterintuitive. But it works. According to Shopify, you can boost sales by 2,000%.
Giving samples away is a tried and tested method of building your brand and converting prospective customers. With just a small initial investment, it’s possible to get a huge payoff.
Free samples work, and basic psychology explains how. First, there’s reciprocity. If someone does something nice, you feel compelled to do the same thing. It’s a super simple idea, but it’s at the core of how humans operate. Costco, for example, bases its sample strategy on academic psychological studies.
Second, it gives consumers a fuzzy feeling about your brand. Cornell University, for example, ran a test that showed free wine tasting not only leads to people spending more money in the moment, but also going forward.
And it doesn’t even have to be a traditional ‘free sample’ promotion. Think about it from the earlier ‘influencer’ tip. Why not create a free mini-course, for instance? This works particularly well if you’re running a SaaS company, as users will get an inside look without you having to give away the farm.
We’ll leave you with this: keep trying to think creatively. In the current climate, you will need to use unorthodox methods to survive. Don’t be afraid to try new angles, put yourself out there, and stay positive. 2021 is going to be a better year.