How to Market with Little to No Budget

Cost-efficient ways to advertise your business

Carisa Miklusak is CEO of tMedia, a Vancouver-based company that helps improve companies’ bottom lines through social, mobile, and digital media. Miklusak conducts workshops on how to convert initial awareness in one’s business into interest, brand engagement, and, eventually, sales. She was recently the keynote speaker at the Social Media Strategies Summit in Boston.

Build social platforms

Create Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages for your company. Google ranks every website on the Internet on a scale of 1–10. Sites with the highest scores are served first in search results and hence get the most exposure from Google. It is very difficult to get scores above 5 or 6 as an organization. However, sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have all been assigned ranks between 8 and 10.  By creating a company page on their platforms, you benefit from a higher ranking and appear in search results ahead of small businesses that have not done so.

Use the right words

Online brand awareness starts with how your website and social-media platforms are positioned in the online sphere. Both should be written from a customer’s or potential customer’s point of view. Ask yourself, “How might my customer search for me online? What words and phrases will they likely use?” It is critical to have these words and phrases incorporated into your site.

Leverage your personal profile 

As an executive, your online profile is of critical importance. In today’s business landscape, potential customers, employees, and other stakeholders have immediate access to information about you and your organization. Hence, having the right information and positioning yourself properly can lead to higher conversions.

Participate in third-party platforms

If your small business wants to reach a larger, more diverse audience in a cost-effective manner, participate in relevant conversations throughout the Internet. It is no longer enough to only participate in conversations on your company Facebook page.

Position your company as the “go-to” industry expert

Users of new media are looking to learn, gather information, and share their know-how. Facilitating this process by asking and answering questions in the online sphere is an excellent way to create both brand visibility and credibility. For example, LinkedIn offers a “Questions and Answers” feature where any user can pose a question to the greater LinkedIn audience. These questions can be segmented to match your business’s targeted audience (financial, healthcare, sales, etc.). Providing direct answers, as well as links to third-party resources, will let your audience know that you are a “go-to” industry resource and a leader in your marketplace.

Jump-start the conversation 

At the end of the day, the best organic marketing strategy is to leverage your target audience and get them to talk to one another. When an audience begins to talk about your brand, your visibility grows and begins to carry a momentum of its own. Your brand credibility will skyrocket in the face of positive audience conversations, since the user-to-user trust in the social sphere is much stronger than that between audience members and brands. It’s up to you to jump-start these conversations.

Write blogs and share articles

Once a week, commit to writing a short paragraph about an important industry topic—one that’s sure to be relevant to your target audience—and place this either on your company blog or personal blog. As your read articles on the web, seed three to five articles through your social profiles per week.  Watch for comments and reposts or retweets of your posts. If anyone is talking to you, make sure that you recognize him or her and speak back!

Network

Start by creating an e-mail list and send an announcement to all of your contacts—personal and professional—to notify them of your company’s social platforms and what kind of value you will offer. Next, make sure you put your social-profile URLs on all of your print collateral, business cards, and in your e-mail signature. Literally write a sentence and invite people to join the conversation.