Marketing is a massive industry: advertising spend in the UK hit an estimated £25.36 billion last year.¹ However, that doesn't mean that it will cost you a fortune to market your brand. According to the Chartered Institute for Marketing, marketing is about tapping into key trends and promoting your product in the right place and at the right time – and not all of that takes a huge investment.
We've put together five smart ways you can market your small business without spending a fortune.
1. Spend time understanding your audience
This might not seem like a cash-saving step initially, but if you don’t understand who you are marketing to, you'll end up wasting time and budget.
The first step of your marketing campaign should be to create a "customer persona". In other words, you are mapping out your customers into archetypes to understand what resonates with these groups. These can be as simple as the customer's age, location, income and what platforms they spend time on, which give you insight how how to communicate with them and where you need to be. Having this game plan will save you money in the long run.
2. Sell your personal brand, too
"The customer now also needs to feel heard, and they need to know the people behind a brand," says Linzi Boyd, founder of Business of Brand. "They no longer want to be sold to; they want the emotional and human connection."
This may not be for every business owner, but you should consider building up your personal profile online, and use your own views, opinions, and expertise to boost your business. Boyd recommends investigating different models of approach. It’s also worth considering where you do this and choose a channel, for example, LinkedIn is best for professional brand growth and Instagram, as a more visual platform is best to show off product.
3. Leverage your online customer reviews
Asking existing customers to leave reviews online is a great way to have them do free marketing for your brand. Google Reviews is particularly important for businesses with a physical presence, as your reviews will appear next to Google Maps and relevant search results. With 65% of consumers saying that they trust search engine results the most, it’s a valuable way to reach new customers. You simply set up a free Google My Business account to have customers generate reviews.
Feefo or Trustpilot are other trustworthy platforms for reviews, and you can integrate positive reviews into your business website. Trustpilot offers a free plan, while a free trial is available at Feefo.
4. Advertise your business on Google
Google Ads get your business in front of prospective customers when they search for similar businesses, meaning you can be featured on the first page of Google results. This is a great way to also test which search terms work best for your business and products. The search engine offers new advertisers £120 of ad spend credit. These Google Ad campaigns can also be linked with Google Analytics to track website traffic and key statistics, which will help you see what you are spending and what return you get.
You can also get your business on the map with Google by claiming your place page. This helps tie your Google Ads to your location on Google Maps, so that your business will rank for relevancy to a customer's search and locality. Watch our how-to video on some easy ways you can improve your business' Google rankings.
5. Monitor engagement to see what performs best
If you don’t know which posts, videos and emails are opened or viewed most often, you won't have any idea what your customers are most engaged with. Reporting on your advertising performance will help you to understand over time where to allocate your spend, or if you want to boost certain posts to reach an even wider audience. Hootsuite and Buffer has free trials for their social media analytics platform and scheduling tools.
Make your marketing budget go further with the American Express® Business Gold Card, which is accepted by Google, Hootsuite, Buffer, and many other major marketing tools. It gives you up to 54 days until payment is due², therefore giving you time to assess the performance of your marketing campaigns – and figure out which ones are the most effective for conversion – before you commit to further spending. Plus, you can earn Membership Rewards® points every time you spend.³
- Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report, April 2020.
- The maximum payment period on purchases is 54 calendar days and is obtained only if you spend on the first day of the new statement period and repay the balance in full on the due date. The American Express Business Gold Card has an annual fee of £125 (£0 in first year).
- Membership Rewards points are earned on every full £1 spent and charged, per transaction. Terms and conditions apply.
- If you'd prefer a Card with no annual fee, rewards or other features, an alternative option is available – the Basic Card.