What's stopping you from marketing? For most small businesses, the answer is time and money.
According to Drip, 49% of all small business owners spend less than two hours a day on marketing, and half of all owners say they do their marketing themselves.
Business Insider explains that cash flow problems are a fact of life for many small business owners, causing 82% of all small businesses to fail. When business owners have to choose between paying for marketing and paying operational expenses, marketing may seem like a luxury.
It's also true that large companies have an advantage when it comes to ad spending. They can pay for high-budget video ads, spread their message on billboards and radio, and cause consumers to hear their ads more frequently.
But you don't have to go head-to-head with Google and Pepsi or spend millions of dollars to increase your bottom line. In addition to regularly updating your blog and actively using social media, we discovered three cheap, unique ways to grow your business – without spending thousands of dollars.
1. Use Google's free tools.
A Google My Business account is a free account from Google that allows you to publish your business online. It allows your business to become visible when people search and to appear on Google Maps.
Once your My Business account is established, it can result in a steady stream of passive website traffic. With 97% of internet users searching Google for local business information, you can be certain that your local audience is trying to find you online.
"I recently helped a small wedding photography business set up his Google My Business account, in addition to some other minor SEO tweaks. Within a week, his page ranked near the top for 'local wedding photographer,'" Baillieul said. "We also targeted keywords his competitors had overlooked, such as 'engagement photographer' or 'wedding planning tips.' The result: hundreds of passive visits to his website and several booked gigs. It's like his marketing now runs on autopilot.”
2. Try texting.
One uncommon way that businesses are driving engagement is through text messages. According to Alfredo Salkeld, marketing manager at SimpleTexting, 98% of all text messages received are read, compared with a 15% email open rate.
"Small businesses don't just have limited budgets – they have limited time too," he said. "They can't afford to waste time writing messages that may never get read. Email marketing may be inexpensive, but the open and click-through rates leave a lot to be desired. On the other hand, people almost always read their texts."
Promotional text messages cost pennies to send, and you aren't charged for any messages you receive in return. That makes it possible to have two-way text conversations at a low cost, making it easy to engage customers.
Salkeld's real-world example of text message success is compelling: "Delta Sonic is a car wash chain with under 30 locations. They offered a free bottle of water when people signed up for their text club. Soon they had 20,000 subscribers who they could text time-sensitive promos to anytime business was slow."
That means Delta Sonic increased its bottom line with a small upfront investment.
Similar to an email list, you'll only want to text customers who have signed up to receive communications from you. But with effort and a small investment, you can generate many repeat customers.
3. Use Facebook in a unique way.
Using Facebook's free features to engage with your audience and potential clients can help improve your bottom line at no cost to you.
"While you should continue posting content to your Facebook Business page because it's free, you should use Facebook in other ways," said Lori Ramas, business efficiency expert at Relezant.
She suggested joining groups where your audience is. "Are your customers women or moms? Are they interested in family-friendly events, beauty products or other hobbies? Join the Facebook groups that they're a part of. Introduce yourself, get related, and say hello."
Ramas has had success with this herself, managing to book four new business appointments by responding to a post in a local group. She also encourages asking your friends to share your business posts to increase their reach.
The bottom line
Marketing your small business doesn't have to break your budget. By signing up for a free Google My Business account, engaging directly with your audience in their favorite Facebook groups and spending pennies per text on a direct marketing campaign, you can increase your business's bottom line without spending a lot of money.