Does it seem like your company's limited marketing budget is hindering it from getting the business volume it so desperately needs to grow? Expanding your business by increasing your marketing efforts may feel like a Catch 22: A larger volume of business could result in a higher marketing budget, which could result in more customers, but budget limitations seem to be preventing your business from taking shape.
The good news is, there are easy ways to get out of the "No business? No marketing budget" loop. Here are four strategies that can help you overcome tight funds and finally foster company growth through the power of word-of-mouth marketing.
Focus on Quality
When your company becomes known for delivering a quality product or service, that reputation alone can bring in more business, thanks to word-of-mouth advertising. That's because when customers encounter products and services they're especially pleased with, they often spread the word without any prompting from the companies they do business with.
Focusing on improving just this one thing—the quality of your products and services, especially your customer service—can be very powerful in increasing your sales, your brand reputation and more. Quality products and exceptional customer service can really put the power of word-of-mouth advertising to work in your business. The result is more customer approval and more sales, even on a limited marketing budget.
Gain Insight From Current Customers
Too many companies put more emphasis on winning over potential customers and not enough on finding out where they stand with their current customers. But asking your current customers just what they like—and don't like—about your business can help you improve your customer satisfaction.
And don't let your small size stop you from reaching out to your customers. While you may envy the market research budgets of larger corporations, any company with at least one customer already has the best resource for gaining the insight they need in order to boost customer satisfaction and jump start word-of mouth advertising: their current customers.
It doesn't take a big budget to gather this insight. Your research can be as simple as asking customer-facing employees about their experiences when it comes to customer reactions and customer service issues. Or you can set up an online survey for your customers to take, which can often be done for free. Much can also be learned simply by monitoring your company's reputation on popular social media platforms and blogs.
Give Customers What They Want
Many companies get started after someone thinks of an idea for a great product and then has that product manufactured. To sell the product, the company seeks out a pool of people that might want to buy it.
Instead of starting with a great idea, why not consider flipping this process? Begin with your target customer and then produce a product you think they'll want or need. You don't have to abandon the product you currently sell—instead, you're allowing product updates to be heavily influenced by the needs and desires of your customers.
The fact is, you may be selling a product of the finest quality but it can still be something nobody likes or wants. By thinking about your customers first, you're allowing them to tell you what they want instead of trying to get them to buy something they don't find value in.
Maximize Your Current Budget
When it comes to the dilemma of a limited marketing budget and the need for professional advertising, you should learn how to use your budget in a way that makes the greatest impact. Remember, having a large budget doesn't always result in marketing success. It would be much better to use low-cost marketing techniques and reach your target market several times than to blow it all on one fancy marketing tactic or ad that doesn't get seen as much.
Because it can take your target market several ad sightings to make a purchasing decision, you should use marketing approaches you can afford to do regularly. For instance, consider allocating part of your online marketing budget to bid for position placements, but don't try to outbid the competition. More often than not, the lower bid just receives less traffic, not less ROI. This approach will also translate to a lower cost per impression.
Another smart way to stretch your funds is to focus on being newsworthy and getting relevant press. This is an easy thing to overlook, but it stands the test of time.
Having high customer approval and generating a lot of word-of-mouth marketing can give new businesses an advantage over their well-established competitors. While some companies fail to take steps that would boost their customer satisfaction ratings because they're distracted by their limited marketing budget, others with tiny budgets are taking action and using their marketing dollars wisely, winning the loyalty and recommendations of their current customers and watching their marketing budget grow as a result.
Brendon Schenecker is the founder and CEO of Travel Vegas, a technology-focused destination travel company. He's also a member of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invitation-only organization comprised of promising young entrepreneurs.
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