Mel Kettle is a communications and social media consultant, speaker, blogger, educator, coach, bookworm, obsessive foodie and eatie, and a budding photographer. She blogs on marketing and social media at www.melkettle.com.au. Mel is passionate about working with organisations to show them how to communicate effectively so they can develop communities, share their stories and raise awareness. She particularly enjoys working with people who want to make a difference to other people’s lives. In her spare time Mel writes a food blog, The cook’s notebook.
I speak to many people about marketing and there is often the assumption that it is expensive. Well, yes, it can be. But it really doesn’t need to be, particularly if you are a small business or a sole trader.
My top ten low cost marketing tools are:
1. Have a marketing plan. My last post was about how to write a simple marketing plan. It doesn’t need to be sophisticated but should at least include: marketing/business objectives, target market, key messages, communication tactics appropriate for your target market, budget, action plan, evaluation mechanisms. Key to a successful marketing plan is making sure that you undertake regular and consistent marketing activities. This way you won’t be caught out during slower times.
2. Know your target market. Knowing your target market is essential. Not only does it make your marketing job easier, it saves you money as you can precisely deliver the right messages to them. Determine your target market using parameters such as geography (where they live/work), demographics (age, gender, income), buying behaviours (for example, online vs. bricks and mortar, impulse shoppers vs. like to plan and think about it), activities and lifestyle.
3. Use your networks and contacts. The more people who know what you do, the more likely they are to refer business to you – so get out there and talk to people, and ask your networks to talk about you (in a good way of course!).
4. It’s cheaper to market to your existing clients than to get new ones. Think about the work you are currently doing for your clients – now think about what else you can do for them. Can you work with them on a more permanent basis? Are there other people in their business you can work with? Can you develop a new product or service that will suit them? Are your current clients aware of all the services/products you provide? If not, then tell them!
5. Get a website. It amazes me how many businesses don’t have a website. There is really no excuse, particularly with so much free software such as WordPress or Blogger available to start a simple site. Even a one page site with a brief statement about what your business is and how people can contact you is better than nothing. Once your website is up and running, promote it on everything include email signatures, brochures, gimmicky give-aways, business cards and anything else you can think of.
6. Email newsletter. Sending an e-newlsetter is a great way to communicate with your clients and prospects, get information and promote your organisation. Make sure it’s simple for people to sign up and tell them what to expect. How often will they hear from you? Don’t make your newsletter all salesy – it needs to provide value and benefit for the reader. Give them valuable content so they will keep coming back to read it.
7. Media and publicity. To quote my friend Sally, “Find timely, newsy angles that appeal to traditional media and … go!” If your pitch isn’t newsworthy, it won’t be read. Also do your research and work out the right journalist for your story. Don’t pitch a business story to the sports editor (unless it has a clear sports angle). Be aware that local and community newspapers/radio/tv are often on the lookout for local interest stories, and trade mags often look for industry information.
8. Say thank you! Be sure to thank your customers, thank the people who refer business to you and thank your suppliers. A bit of gratitude can go a long way in business. It never ceases to amaze me how much goodwill can be generated by sending a simple hand written thank you note.
9. Social media. Social media is really changing the marketing world for small and large organisations. The benefits of engaging via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. are many, and include:
- increase your visibility and target your niche market
- build relationships and communities by engaging in conversations with current and prospective clients and suppliers
- share business tips and find business contacts
- give and receive referrals
- follow interesting people who might give you business ideas
- share and discuss business ideas and useful information including web links and photos
- show the human side of your business.
Make sure you do actually engage and have conversations with people. It’s not about selling your products. Social media is about relationships. That’s why it’s social. If you are on Twitter, please say hi – @melkettle.
10. Use the free resources available to you. There is a massive amount of information and huge volume of free resources on the web (type “cheap marketing ideas” into Google). Other great resources are:
- Your local library – not only can you borrow books (yes, books are still useful!) but membership of many community libraries will also give you access to online databases providing access to the latest in marketing trends and information as well as for your industry.
- www.flyingsolo.com.au – an Australian free weekly e-newsletter for soloists and small business – loads of great information and you don’t need to be in Australia to join!
- www.sourcebottle.com– free subscription service that emails ‘call outs’ for sources from journalists and bloggers in a number of countries.
What are your favourite low cost marketing tools?