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6 Low-Cost Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses - Tacoma Daily News

6 Low-Cost Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses - Tacoma Daily News


6 Low-Cost Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses - Tacoma Daily News

Posted: 14 Sep 2020 01:30 AM PDT

By Ashlee Brayfield

Crowdspring Blog

Many businesses are struggling with decreased revenues, fewer customers, and increased costs.

But, this doesn't mean you should stop marketing simply because your marketing budget has shrunk.

There's a lot you can do to grow your business – even during a pandemic.

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Try these inexpensive marketing tactics to get you started.

1. Develop a focused marketing strategy

Marketing is the lifeline that helps your small business to reach and connect with your target audience. And, it's ultimately the driving factor in long-term growth.

For your business to grow, it must be seen.

But, you can't market your business effectively without a strong marketing plan. You can't fire blindly and hope for the best. Unfortunately, most small businesses make that mistake.

The result: you'll end up spending lots of money and get little value for what you spent.

You need a marketing plan that lays out your goals and a clear strategy.

And, if you're just starting a business, this is the perfect time to build your marketing plan. In fact, as you write a business plan, your marketing strategy will be one of the core topics you'll research and include in your plan.

If you already have an established business but struggling to grow it, this is your chance to put your business back on a strong path to success with low-cost marketing tactics that can be executed on a shoestring budget.

A strong marketing strategy should:

Build on your company's brand identity by answering the "who" and "what" questions of your business.

Think holistically to engage both new and existing customers.

Establish a digital presence and prioritize a professionally designed website, blog, and social media presence.

Create high-quality content that is useful, relevant, and actionable.

Generate and convert new leads consistently.

2. Create a company blog

If your company doesn't have a blog, you're missing out on leads, sales, and other valuable benefits.

When planned well, blogging can:

Boost SEO: Search engines gravitate toward fresh and valuable content.

Drive traffic to your website: This traffic then turns into leads and new customers.

Establish authority: Your company's expertise positions you as subject matter experts.

Connect you to clients: Blogging gives you a space to connect with seasoned, new, and potential customers all at once.

You can launch a blog for your business with very little money. And, it's relatively simple to do. You'll need to decide on a name, a blog design, and the best platform to host your blog. Then write about what you know best.

Your content must be high-quality

Strong blog content will build trust, brand awareness, and convert leads to customers. Weak content only takes slightly less time to create but will yield none of the benefits.

Aim for your content to be:

Relevant: By focusing content on brands, projects, services, or needs that relate to your business, you'll yield maximum results.

Valuable: Your content is valuable when it teaches its audience how to do something, helps them to make a decision, or fixes a problem. Such content will position you as a subject matter authority and inspire loyalty to your brand.

Consistent: Prospects will show up when you are consistent. If you show up consistently, they will too.

3. Capture and hold attention with video

Video marketing isn't new. Marketers have used video successfully on blogs, websites, and social media for years.

What has changed, however, is how important video has become.

Viewers today consume video content for longer periods of time than other forms of online marketing.

And, there are ways to create great video at a reasonable cost. Here are three tips to help you produce effective video content without breaking the bank:

* Go live: Use Facebook and Instagram live feeds to share videos using your webcam or smartphone. Viewers can immediately like and share your content, driving immediate traffic to you. Be sure to save, though, or you won't reap the long-term benefits!

* Be the teacher: Position yourself as a subject matter expert by offering live webinars. Save the webinars and promote them via social media or as gated lead generation content that you can deliver via email.

* Keep it short: You're passionate about your content, we know! Keeping your videos short is the best strategy. There are varying studies over how long a marketing video should be, but the consensus is that engagement starts to lessen around the two-minute mark.

4. Engage in social media

It is estimated that there are 3.8 billion active social media users, which is quite an evolution from the early 2000s when social networks first took off.

Social media marketing is a cost-effective way to harness all the social media buzz into quantifiable marketing leads.

This methodology works because it meets your customers where they're at – a move that pays off big.

Invest your time in the right platform

The question is never if you should do marketing with social media, but instead, which platforms make the most sense for your business.

After all, social media platforms are not created equal. What works for a millennial-centric art studio may not be effective for a real estate firm.

To leverage social media effectively, you should develop a social media marketing plan. Here's how you can do that:

* Set goals: set social marketing goals that make sense for your business.

* Know your customer: Which platforms are they on? What times are they most active? What type of social influencing is most effective?

* Research your competition: Determine which social networks their customers are on, and the type of content that appeals to those customers.

* Set-up: Register and set up your social media platforms.

* Audit: Consistently audit what is working and what is not.

5. Invest in a professional website design

Today, consumers expect an interactive, well-designed, easy-to-navigate website experience.

A custom business website can do more for your business's online marketing than any other digital marketing strategy.

Consider these important statistics:

94% of first impressions on your website are design-related.

A recent Stanford report found that 75% of people judge the success of a business based on how their website looks.

38% of users will stop engaging in a website if the layout or content is not attractive.

Setting up your website can seem daunting; but, it's not as hard as you might think.

We can't emphasize enough the importance of good website design.

With that in mind, even if your business is complex, your website design shouldn't be.

Professional web design is worth the cost – and it's less than you think

Most business owners worry about the cost of website design.

But, take a deep breath – you can afford to have an on-brand, revenue-generating website regardless of your budget. Custom website design doesn't have to cost tens of thousands of dollars. There are free, cheap, affordable, and expensive options.

Your website is one of your most valuable marketing tools. It continues working for your business even when you're sleeping. So, make it the priority it deserves.

6. Get involved in your community

It doesn't take a massive marketing budget to communicate with your local community.

But it can have a massive payout.

Community involvement can:

Increase brand recognition.

Boost your brand reputation.

Help you learn more about your client base.

How can you introduce your business to your community?

* Host an informational event: Block party anyone? Host an event to introduce yourself and what you offer to your community.

* Take on speaking engagements: Share your expertise with the community. Your knowledge can benefit them and position you as a subject matter expert.

* Apply for local business awards: Business awards are a great way to build brand awareness and credibility.

* Give back: What can your business do for the community, which also can generate positive PR buzz?

Marketing on a budget takes effort, ingenuity, and constant testing to see what "sticks." Start with these 6 budget-friendly marketing ideas.

About the Author: Ashlee Brayfield – Ashlee is a Customer Support Specialist at crowdspring, one of the world's leading marketplaces for crowdsourced logo design, web design, graphic design, product design, and company naming services. She helps entrepreneurs, small businesses and agencies with branding, design, and naming, and regularly writes about entrepreneurship, small business, and design on crowdspring's award-winning small business blog.

This article originally appeared on crowdspring.com and is reprinted with permission. https://www.crowdspring.com/blog/author/ashleebrayfield/.

How a Nashville guitar maker, Novo, struck a new chord after COVID-19 shut down its business - USA TODAY

Posted: 13 Sep 2020 02:57 PM PDT

By Aimee Picchi, Special to USA TODAY Published 5:56 p.m. ET Sept. 13, 2020

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Novo Guitars sells hand-made, originally-designed guitars. Here's how they've survived the pandemic even with no concerts or live performances. USA TODAY

Since its founding in 2015, Novo Guitars has built a reputation in its home base of Nashville and beyond, with its instruments played by country legend Keith Urban and musicians who work with Beyoncé and David Byrne.

But when the pandemic brought its business to a standstill in March, owner Dennis Fano said the future suddenly looked uncertain. 

"We weren't sure how long we were going to be shut down for," Fano, 49, recalls. "And then once we were able to resume production, we weren't sure exactly what that was going to look like."

Until that point, Novo Guitars had been on a run. It kicked off 2020 with a "nice increase" of orders, says general manager Matthew Timmons, 40. Its guitars — which cost between $2,600 to as much as $5,000 — are known for their vintage designs that harken to classic instruments of the 1960s and 1970s. Before the pandemic hit, the company was on track to craft about 400 guitars this year.

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Then, everything stopped in late March when Nashville instituted a stay-at-home order: "We did not produce a guitar for seven weeks while we were all shut down," Timmons says.

Like many other entrepreneurs and small businesses across the country, Novo Guitars quickly adapted to the new normal in the ongoing pandemic. New safety protocols, such as wearing masks in the workplace and keeping socially distant, are part of post-pandemic life, as well as figuring out how to retool as consumers shift their buying preferences to online sales. 

Novo received a Paycheck Protection Program loan, which provided income for its 16 employees while its workshop was shuttered. When a phased reopening began in May, the company had to orchestrate a new schedule since only half of its workers were allowed on site. The company split the team into two shifts — and didn't lay off any employees.

The pandemic also spurred Novo to speed up a pre-existing plan to sell more guitars directly to customers, rather than relying on dealers. Part of the desire to focus on direct sales came from concerns about lower traffic to dealer showrooms, which could impact Novo's orders. While the workshop was shuttered, the company refocused on its website to boost its direct-sales efforts.

"The customers have really liked it because we've been in constant contact with them," Timmons says.

Aside from cementing customer relationships, shifting to direct sales has delivered higher profits, he adds. "We're cutting out the middleman, so to speak, and so we can sell less guitars and survive," Timmons says.

Even though sales were slow to pick up, orders are rolling in again. Timmons expects the company to reach its pre-pandemic projection of manufacturing about 400 guitars this year. But its showroom remains closed because of the ongoing health concerns of the coronavirus pandemic.

"There's still some uncertainty, but fortunately, things have been going really well," Fano says. "A lot of people are staying home and playing guitar and, uh, so sales have not lagged at all. If anything, they've, they've picked up a little bit."

Contributing: Andrea Kramar

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/09/13/small-business-novo-guitars-turns-direct-sales-survive-covid-19/5770744002/

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