Not every firm has an unlimited budget or time to invest in marketing. Sometimes even just getting started can be a struggle and overwhelming. Marketing can be an expensive cost centre and a very time consuming one, but it doesn’t have to be. The good news is building relationships and your brand can be done with a limited budget and a lot of focus.
Here are a few places to start if you are trying to kick start your marketing with limited resources.
1. Start Small with Social Media – Resist the FOMO
Now-a-days the online world can be overwhelming with the number of channels that are available. Feeling the pressure to be everywhere can often grind down a small marketing team or, more often than not, the one person who is carrying the load. Every social media platform that you are on requires time and effort to maintain, we’re talking multiple hours a week. From creating a monthly content calendar, posting multiple times a week and engaging with the audience, social media can quickly spiral into a huge time-suck. If you multiply that effort across Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok etc. it quickly becomes overwhelming. You likely will run into challenges creating quality content consistently, which will begin to show diminishing returns for your effort.
First, allow yourself permission to not do everything at once. Start small with one or two channels and see what works. Being consistent is the most important part of building your brand online so make sure you are committed. If you jump in on 5 platforms right out of the gate you will likely hit a wall quickly.
Start by doing your research and try to identify which channels your audience is already on and where they are active. Ask clients or peers, see what the competition is doing and most importantly go on each platform you are considering and explore. Maybe your target audience is active in Facebook or Linkedin Groups. Maybe they are engaged on Instagram, but as a rule of thumb “fish where the fish are”. Once you have a good idea of where they are most active, dive in and start engaging. Sharing articles, or commenting in discussions is a great way to start showing up. The great thing about this is that it’s entirely free, it just takes time, focus and consistency.
Adding value to the community should be your number one priority. Resist the urge to post only about yourself or your firm and be too salesy. Sharing and engaging on other people’s content is a great way to earn credibility as well and ensure you aren’t received as being entirely self-motivated. Once you become a meaningful part of the community where your customers are, you will earn trust which in turn earns customers. You will only know what channels REALLY work once you start testing them out. Don’t be afraid to double down on the ones that are working and shut down channels that aren’t working. Test them out one at a time to see where the best return on your time is going to be. It is absolutely okay if you decide that there is really only one or two channels that are worth your time and effort. That can always change over time as you continue to grow.
2. Invest the Time to Learn About SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is essentially optimizing your website and creating content strategically to ensure you show up when people search online for topics and keywords that relate to you and your firm. Using GoogleAds can significantly help increase your visibility but they can also get expensive, especially if you are going up against competitors with deep pockets. Leveraging a good SEO strategy can help you rank higher in the same searches but for free. Again, the trade-off here is time. Improving your search ranking is based on the authority of your website and content, measured by a Google algorithm. To make it even more challenging, Google does not make public all the factors that go into the algorithm. What we do know is that Google is always trying to ensure that people are served the most relevant content to their search. Therefore, the credibility of your content and site are important. Things that can impact your domain authority are things like:
Backlinks – How many other high-quality sites have links to your site or content?
URL Structure – Do you have the right keywords in your URLs?
Tags – Ensuring each page has a proper and relevant H1 tag as well as metatags help tell search engines what to expect on the page.
Again, there is a LOT to dive into to start learning about SEO but the good news is there are plenty of resources online. It does take time for your site to climb the search rankings but it’s one of those things like planting a tree or saving money. The best time to start was a year ago, the next best time to start is today.
3. Test, Test, Test
Test and learn is the name of the game, you won’t know everything on day 1 and that’s okay! The great thing about online marketing is you can get feedback very quickly and continue to build momentum. We already talked about testing channels to find your audience, but after that, testing content is a great place to start. We all make assumptions about what people will like but until you actually put it out there, you won’t know for sure.
When it comes to your content there are so many things you can test and learn with just a little extra effort. For example, say you are making a Facebook post promoting a blog post. Try posting a few different times but with different images or copy. Does your audience click more when it’s a picture of a person? Or maybe having the title of the blog in the image catches their attention. Don’t post them all at the same time, but over the course of a couple weeks you can share the same content a few times with a different look to see what resonates. When you find out what works, double down and keep giving the people what they want!
Leveraging the promoted post feature on Facebook can be a really cost-effective way to speed up these tests. Promoting your posts to extended audiences with even a couple of dollars will help you learn faster by getting more eyeballs on it. It also will help generate awareness and maybe earn you some new followers in the process.
Landing pages can also be a great way to test and learn about things like pricing, messaging and targeting. By creating variants of the same landing page, you can discover which one is more successful. Make sure you keep all your tests separate and do not mix variables. For example, If you want to find out what price is the best, keep the pages the exact same except that one variable.
Each of these three things will require a lot more research on your part but should provide you a good place to start. Remember, the most important thing to do is to understand your customer and then maintain focus.