5 top tips for marketing your business on next to no budget

When starting out, many businesses don’t have a lot of spare cash to spend on marketing to their ideal customer. Or any customer for that matter. Add to the mix the breadth of marketing channels on offer – each with their pros and cons – and knowing how and where to invest your meagre marketing dollar is anything but straightforward.  

To cut through the confusion, we’ve enlisted the priceless help of Charlotte Rijkenberg, CMO of Foodora. Here are her five savvy tips for marketing your business on a shoestring, but with a bang.


1. Leverage word of mouth

Don’t underestimate the true power of word of mouth.  Although we spend a lot of time online, reading reviews, comparing products etc, if a family member or friend recommends something, we are very likely to listen and act upon it. 

In other words, every experience of your customer counts – especially for a new business. Leave a great impression and you’ll be able to attract new customers for free.

2. Be creative with what you have

If a business has little money to spend on marketing, you will see that very quickly you can get creative with little or no money.

If you have $500, how you spend it depends on your type of business (do you offer a service or sell a product?), your customers (where are they, how can you reach them? etc) and any marketing activities you have done previously (what worked, what didn’t? etc).

For one company investing in social or search ads might be a good option (especially as you can test, learn, adapt and re-invest very quickly!). But I’ve also seen offline tools, like putting flyers in letter boxes, be very effective.

3. Try and test different methods

It's important to try and test as much as possible. Even if you have a small amount of money to invest, make sure you test methods, channels and ideas and gain data that you can use in the future, rather than blow the whole amount on one marketing activity. For example, if you think a letter box drop will work, try a small suburb first and test different flyer formats on different streets to see what gets you the best leads, before sending out to an entire city.

4. Do social media well or not at all

Not all social channels are relevant for all businesses – so don’t feel like you need to open an Instagram account, just so you have social presence.

Your presence on any social channel should be relevant. If you can be relevant and add value, your (future) customers will be interested in following you.

Also consider whether your target market is even on social media. Too many times people assume that they need to be on every single social media channel, when they haven't even considered whether their customers hang out in this place.  

5. Use free marketing tools and resources

There are loads of free tools and very cheap subscriptions to some amazing marketing tools and resources out there.

I love companies like MailChimp and Salesforce – where the costs can be small when you are a small business, but they can grow with you when your company is expanding.

Other great free tools are SurveyMonkey for online surveys, Evernote for sharing ideas and managing projects, and Hootsuite for managing all your social media channels. I’ve also been reading the articles and trend predictions on TrendWatching for many years, and it has become a great source of inspiration.

Have some specific marketing questions for your business? You can jump on a phone call with Charlotte, and lots of other incredible experts, through Top Expert.


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