People often complain that they have no marketing budget to attract new customers, yet they have staff in charge of their PR or they handle PR themselves. You assign a budget as soon as you allocate someone to handle PR or marketing. Their wages constitute a marketing budget whether they have other responsibilities or not. You do not need to have someone working full-time on marketing to have a working and productive marketing plan and even when marketing efforts are stepped-up you can distribute tasks among employees to make sure everything required is completed on-time.
Free Marketing ideas
There are ways to create marketing campaigns that generate revenue before you spend a penny. The only thing you need is a little inventiveness. Internet companies love the free competition model, but they can be just as effective to off-line businesses. Offer a free iPad to do people who like your Facebook page, invite ten friends or to your page or write comment number 1,000 on your blog posts and you have instant engagement from an otherwise un-incentivised audience. The iPad may sound like you need a marketing budget, but when you consider the cost of an iPad 2 is less than £250, you quickly realise that you should be able to generate more than enough business by converting website visitors into customers.
The Time and Effort Budget
It doesn’t matter how many times you read about a turnkey business that manages itself and creates a passive income from online sales, you quickly realise the writer has been making most of it up. All businesses require input from the business owner, staff or enthusiasts who are interested in your products or services.
If you are a rock band, Star Wars memorabilia stockist or sell addictive sweets, you may be lucky enough to have the fans and enthusiasts. If not, you could always try pulling your finger out and networking with players in your industry or your customer base on social networks, by writing blogs for industry relevant blogs or voicing your opinion and offering advice freely on forums. All of these will eventually generate traffic and custom for your website.
Brand and Online Reputation Management
An online business lives or dies with its reputation, but that stems from more than simply creating a few good revues for your products, it is about monitoring social media and utilising it in the correct way. People who openly criticise products and services on Twitter and if this includes a service you provided, a product you sold and creates another negative link to your company, you could be in trouble. You can use Twitter to engage your customers, but what about finding new customers.
Twitter has some amazing tools designed for people who want to use the platform as a professional communication setup. Even the simplest of tweets to about your latest blog post, product or service, will generate website traffic and potentially orders, but the best way to use Twitter is to find and engage with people who are in your target market. Using Twitter’s TweetDeck, you can have multiple-twitter feeds, each monitoring a different keyword that relates to your business. You will see complaints, enquiries and even straightforward requests for products or services from people who are in your target market. All of this is available completely free from charge, but these efforts require time and involvement.
From little Acorns, Do Mighty Oaks Grow?
The thing to remember if never run before you can crawl because it is easy to over-promise and under deliver. This is especially true in the service industry where clients and customers can see your company as a great provider, only to find out you have a staff of one when you fail to meet the level of service you promised.
Bill Jobs is a writer who has been involved with Internet star-ups for many years and has relied on the advice and mentorship of some of the UK’s greatest entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and Gregory Cox who both inspire him daily.