Companies just starting out normally look to avoid outsourcing professionals to take care of their marketing needs. The fact is that professional marketing can quickly rack up a hefty bill, and all budding entrepreneurs know that a penny saved is a penny earned. Some startups just don’t have the budget to hire a PR firm, which is understandable. Thankfully, new businesses have all the tools they need to get their marketing strategy rolling at a promising pace right at their disposal. Take note that, just because a particular business technique is free to use, doesn’t mean it can’t play a considerable part in a brand’s growth. The following lists four solid marketing practices, none of which come with any inherent costs.

Use Email Marketing to Increase Customer Engagement and Lead Generation

A recent survey conducted by Ascend2 suggests that email marketing trumps all other digital marketing tactics. It’s considered the least demanding strategy to execute while generating the best ROI. “Start a customer newsletter that offers timely information about the business, special promotions or an inside look at the company,” writes Entrepreneur contributor Aaron Goodin. “This helps build a community with your customers, and it keeps your product and business on their minds.”

Take Advantage of Social Media

If you haven’t jumped on the social media bandwagon yet, it might be a good idea to make that a priority. Social media is free to use, easy to establish, and provides marketers with a vast pool of potential consumers. The challenge with social media is to increase the amount of followers in a time-efficient manner. This takes patience and mindful execution. Marketers should identify the social channels — like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest — that reach their ideal customers, and establish an optimal social media strategy. “The goal is to provide your followers with something that’s useful, interesting and shareable,” offers Goodin. “Start small, post a few times a week and learn who your audience is. Once you have an understanding of who’s consuming your content, and what they’re interested in, you can start ramping up efforts.”

Lean on Satisfied Testimonials

Positive past reviews go a long way toward easing the engagement of prospective customers. Marketers should take time to engage previous clients through social media, email, and PR. “For example, pitching your business and a satisfied customer to a writer can be mutually beneficial for both parties,” says Goodin. “This tactic generally leads to a more compelling story and a stronger relationship between you and your customer. Once you have a customer army of spokespeople, let them share positive experiences and tell your company story for you.”

Generate Local Awareness

Get your community to back your business ventures by seeking coverage in local trade magazines, papers, and websites. This can significantly boost brand recognition by getting the word out on your products or services — leading to new customers. Also, keep in mind that there’s no initial need to outsource marketing when it comes to local coverage. Goodin writes: “While many growing businesses in competitive landscapes may want to hire an expensive public relations firm, startups and small businesses can start off with some simple ‘do-it-yourself’ PR. Start by researching publications and writers that cover your industry — or local business. Once you have a grasp on the writers you want to reach and the stories they typically write for their publication, craft a pitch around your business that will pique their interest.

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