What do you do when business is slow and profits are down? Are you out of marketing ideas for small businesses?
If you think that the answer is “stop marketing,” then it’s time to think again. While it’s true that marketing might seem to be less essential than other areas of business, the truth is that a solid marketing plan could spell the difference between success and failure.
It turns out there’s research to support the idea that marketing is critical during a recession. A recent Harvard Business Review study looked at the performance of 4,500 businesses during a recession. It found that the companies with the most forward-thinking attitudes – in other words, those that didn’t engage in the drastic cutting of their marketing budgets – performed the best both during the recession and in the long term.
This evidence doesn’t mean you should go on a spending spree, buying ads left and right. What it does mean is that smart marketing should be your focus.
Here are six low-cost marketing ideas for small businesses:
Audit Your Existing Content
One of the best ways to market on a budget is to use what you already have. Existing content can be updated or repurposed. Here are some tips:
- Review your blog posts, videos, graphics, and photos to see what may be relevant to your current marketing plan.
- Make a note of content that would need updating to be used again.
- Don’t forget to review your social media posts to find content that can be used again.
- Other assets to consider include emails, lead magnets, ebooks, white papers, case studies, infographics, and web pages.
You may want to set up a spreadsheet to keep track of everything. You can use it to indicate different potential uses for content, too. This is a great way to track your marketing ideas for small businesses.
Brainstorm New Ways to Use Old Content
Once you’ve completed your inventory, it’s time to think about what you can do to repurpose your old content and make it relevant to your audience in the here and now.
For example, you might be able to take an old blog post and revamp it as an infographic or turn an ebook into a webinar.
Keep in mind that you may need to do some work to make the content reusable. A blog post that uses statistics from three years ago will need updating before it can be turned into a chart or infographic. You don’t want to have outdated data.
Connect with Your Customers
It can be tricky to determine what kind of content would be useful to your audience in the new reality we’re all experiencing. You might not be able to spend a ton of money on customer research. That said, there’s no reason you can’t reach out to your audience and ask for their input.
One of my favorite ways to conduct audience research is by creating a survey and sending it out to my email list. Surveys should be short – no more than 5-10 questions at most. Make sure it’s easy to complete.
Another option is to create a poll or post a question on social media. On Facebook, you can create a poll and post it as a status update. For other sites, such as Instagram and Twitter, you may want to pose a question and ask the people who respond to use a hashtag you create for that purpose.
Any information you collect can be used to inform your new marketing strategy. Your focus should be on learning what kind of content your audience wants to see, where they want to see it, and what products and services they’ll find most useful during the pandemic.
Focus on Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
If you own a local brick-and-mortar business or if your virtual/national business serves your local area, local SEO is your best bet for pandemic marketing on a budget.
Let’s talk about why.
First, consumers are eager to support local businesses in this time of need. They need to know who you are to support you and local SEO is the best way to reach them.
Second, local businesses can avail themselves of options that national companies can’t. For example, you can deliver or offer curbside pick-up services. Those things are convenient to customers and can help you attract new business.
Finally, local SEO is, by definition, highly targeted. It lends itself to marketing on a budget because you’ll spend less to reach people in your local audience.
Want more info about SEO? Check out my article, 11 Basic SEO Strategies for Beginners.
Collect Reviews and Testimonials
Online reviews have never been more critical than they are now. Here’s why you should be focusing on them now.
Customers are actively looking for local businesses to support. They’ll be more likely to take a chance on you if you have recent reviews on sites like Yelp, Google My Business, Facebook, or your own website.
It’s also worth noting that reviews are free, which means they’re an inexpensive way to attract new business.
My suggestion is to decide how and when to ask customers for reviews and be consistent about it. For example, you might send them an email asking for a review a day or two after they order from you (or within a few days of delivery, if applicable.)
Then, monitor your reviews and respond to all of them, positive and negative. Consumers want to reward businesses that engage with their customers.
I use Endorsal to ask my clients for reviews. The cool thing about Endorsal is the ability to publish those on social media and my website, all within the Endorsal app.
Create a Digital To-Do List
So far, I’ve focused on short-term strategy; now, let’s talk about something you can do that will help you out in the long term.
I’m willing to bet that there are many things in the marketing arena that you’ve been wanting to do. They might include:
- Updating your website
- Creating an online store
- Segmenting your email list
- Standardizing your social media profiles
- Fixing broken links
- Testing ads and content
Guess what? This is the perfect time to tackle some of these projects. Not only will they give you a focus during a time that might otherwise be stressful, but they will also set you up for success in the future. You can do many of these things without spending a ton of money, and they are great inexpensive ideas for small businesses.
Nobody’s a fan of this pandemic, but if you handle your marketing correctly now, your business will survive the storm. You may even find that you come out of this time more successful and profitable than ever!
We recognize you might need help with some of these things because you are wearing many hats. We would be delighted to help. If you need some marketing ideas that can get you results for your business, we want to help you. Schedule a Brainstorming with Donna Session to explore the best growth hacks for you.