When your marketing budget and home utility budget match

You know that $200 doesn’t go very far in your personal life, and when it comes to marketing your business that monthly budget can feel like pennies. But with some strategic thinking and a little work, you can actually do a lot with it. First, focus on just one to three channels, targeting avenues where your customers are most likely to see the ad. In this case, it doesn’t pay to cast a wide net.

The three most universally effective tactics are free

Word of mouth, basic search engine optimization (SEO), and keeping your business’s online directory listings updated simply require your time or a small fee to a company, and they’re regularly noted by business owners as the methods that deliver the most noticeable results. Prioritizing these three things before you start utilizing your monthly marketing budget increases the effectiveness of what you do choose to spend money on, and helps to increase visibility and traffic.

Word of mouth: Your customers are your best marketers – respond to online reviews quickly (positive and negative), incentivize referrals, and engage with your customers on social media to encourage their feedback.

Website SEO: There are a few things you can do to your site to increase its search engine friendliness; basically, the less work the search engine has to do to figure out what your site is about, the better.  Updating title tags, optimizing headings, and creating an XML sitemap and submitting it to Google and Bing won’t take a whole lot of time (especially if you use a sitemap creator), but will remove any road blocks in getting you up there in search results.

Business directories: Local searchers can’t find you if you aren’t listed on Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and business directory apps; and if you do appear there, and the information isn’t correct, you’ll lose customers.

Now, get out your wallet: paid marketing with the highest ROI

The channel or channels you chose will depend on your demographics, but the following tend to provide businesses with the biggest bang for their buck.

Facebook ads work for just about anyone, provided you use the service strategically. Cost effective and housed on the king of social media, the service allows you to create incredibly targeted ads, and you can spend as little as $1 per day.

Don’t forget about Bing. Google AdWords are effective, but Bing search campaigns have great visibility and a lower cost per click, especially if you focus on long keyword phrases. Narrowing your focus from “web design in Texas” to “startup web designer near Austin” targets people who would be a good fit for your area of expertise and whittles down your search competition.

Email marketing is routinely listed by businesses as having the highest ROI, and it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. With customer contact information in hand and a simple content schedule that’s a mix of value and straight advertising, you keep yourself visible to your current customers. Bonus: the value of your campaign increases with the size of your list.

Content marketing ties into every other channel you choose, increasing SEO by keeping your site’s blog fresh, offering you new ways to engage with customers on social media, providing fodder for your email campaign, and giving people clicking your ads something interesting and valuable to land on. Quality content can easily drain your budget, but simple things like keeping up to date on industry news and then writing a short paragraph about it before linking to something more substantial, is a great place to start. Infographic generators and getting employees in on making videos also work wonders.

The biggest key to marketing with a $200 budget? Stay focused, do as much of the work yourself as you can, and play with different campaigns and channel combinations.


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