In yesterday’s post, we talked about being competitive with a small business in a challenging business environment. Today we are going to look at 10 ways to make the most of your money in your marketing plan when your budget is limited.

  1. Know what works. Have a method of tracking where existing customers are coming from.
  2. Repeat your success. Keep in contact with current customers and notify them of specials and new products. An e-newsletter is a cost effective way to keep your name in front of your customers.
  3. Look at where your business is currently coming from and identify ways to expand that base. Are there additional services you can provide?
  4. Are you spending all of your money in low trust, low return venues? Evaluate your current marketing and promotions in relation to the marketing trust pyramid.
  5. Network. Most people think about business to business when they think of networking, and that is a very valuable avenue. However if you are a small business owner, every person you come in contact with should know what you do and the product or service you provide. You shouldn’t be obnoxious about it, but you should be close to it.
  6. Do joint marketing with complimentary businesses. A friend of mine does an amazing job of this with her children’s resale shop. She is constantly coming up with mini events to pull people in and coordinates with neighboring businesses. What was once a dying retail center is now the place to be if you have a business related to children.
  7. Create new customers with seminars or informational events. Do people have a hard time understanding what it is that you do? (I get this all the time.) Put on a seminar or give a talk in front of your target audience and identify the need that your products or services fill.
  8. Invest in your customers. Now this is what I call FUN marketing. Throw a client appreciation party or customer-only event. If you have a retail store, invite them to an invitation only preview. This again can be a joint effort with complimentary businesses.
  9. Invest in your community. It truly makes a difference when people know that you’re giving back and not just there for the dollars. One of the best examples of this I know is Rick Alspaugh who owns Ace Hardware here in Kingwood. He sponsors local teams, donates to organizations, gives presentations, spearheads the local clean-up efforts . . . seriously, if you’ve lived here for any amount of time, you know who he is.He does all that, but his big thing is an annual street dance around the 4th of July. He pulls out his BBQ’s, has a band come to play, and the town comes out and parties in the store parking lot. Yes, people definitely know who he is and his business.
  10. And if you want to combine all of the above . . . here’s my favorite . . . start a community event. Pick a charity, decide on an event format, and go out and get support from other area businesses.Yes, it is a lot of work; however, there is an intangible benefit participating in those types of events that you could never get from just placing an ad somewhere. If you are one of the originators of the event, you establish yourself as a leader in whatever field you are in and you go beyond being one among many participants in the promotional vehicles of others to the creator of your own promotional opportunity.Picnic on the Park started with a phone call from my Realtor saying, “I want to do an egg hunt for the community.” (Here’s a recap from that first year.) We started with a 30 day time line, a handful of volunteers, 1,200 attendees and barely pushing 20 booths to an event five years later with over 80 vendor booths and activities, 100 volunteers, and 6,000 attendees at the festival with another 250 at the kick-off Ladies Luncheon (a second event that we added.)Still not quite sure you want to plan your own? Find a local event that you can be excited about and get on board.Attend the event to see if it is a good fit for your business. Research the charity that it benefits. Then look at the ways that your business can participate.If you do business in the Houston area, call me and I’ll set you up.

Those are my 10 marketing tips. What are your top tips?