Tips to continue marketing on a shoestring budget
As many business owners are experiencing, the COVID-19 pandemic has created serious financial difficulties for entrepreneurs. Small businesses especially are faced with cutting their budgets so they can continue to operate—even at a smaller scale—and not have to close for good. They also have to figure out how they can market themselves so once the pandemic is over, their customers and clients come back to them.
During a financial crisis, a company's marketing budget is often one of the first areas to face cuts, but halting marketing entirely is a dangerous move.
Instead, try these tips for marketing on a tight budget.
1. Create video content from home
Video is increasingly becoming a popular marketing tool and it doesn't have to be expensive. All you need is a smart phone or computer with a camera and some time to film yourself. Create a video series that can be posted on your website or social media feed. Encourage staff to create videos as well, although don't force them to if they aren't comfortable with it.
Depending on your business, you can post helpful tips for clients or show some behind the scenes of how your company operates during COVID-19. Hairdressers can show clients how to cut their hair at home (or how not to cut it). Personal trainers can show videos that break down different exercises. Dog groomers can show how to clip pets' nails or wash the ears.
2. Host an online course
With people staying home and trying to stay entertained, many are looking for ways to keep their minds active. Hosting an online class is a great way to keep your business at the front of their mind, market yourself, and even continue earning money. Develop a course or class that solves your customers' problems during COVID-19 and advertise it on your website and on social media. It's up to you if you charge people to attend the course or if you offer it for free.
Think of the obstacles your clients face while they can't access you and create a course to help them address that issue. Many people right now are looking for ways to keep their meals interesting with limited opportunities to shop. Restaurants or chefs could offer a class (or classes) in creating fun meals with pantry staples or mixing fancy cocktails, for example.
3. Keep your social media going
Your social media marketing is often free or inexpensive and it keeps people aware of your business. Make sure you continue your social media posting, even it it's just to post links to COVID-related resources or informative articles that your audience will appreciate.
Play around with your social media plan to see if there are ways to reach a wider audience without spending a lot of money. Facebook often has credits that make its sponsored posts free or almost free. Those posts reach a wider audience than your regular posts and can bring people to your website.
4. Divert money if you can
You may have budgeted this year to spend marketing money at trade shows or networking events that will not happen. Instead, put that money in your digital marketing budget. Rather than having your marketing money spread out, focus on one or two areas that get you higher return on investment. These include areas such as search engine optimization and social media.
It's tempting to halt your marketing to save money right now, but you run the risk of not having customers when the pandemic is over. Instead, maximize your budget by diverting money into one or two focused areas. Finding ways to engage your customers through videos, online classes and social media will also ensure you're ready to go when the social distancing is over.