5 Great Ways To Get Big Results From Small Marketing Budgets

The Marketing Lab - marketing on small and large budgets-resized-600-2At a recent trade show, I had a conversation with a company that had a terrific new product. They were new to the market, eager to make a name for themselves. Their product was unique, filled a niche and could draw excitement upon demonstration. They had everything going for them that any small business could hope for except for one thing: they had no confidence that they could afford to market in their category.

“We don’t have budgets like your other clients,” the product developer told me. “I don’t know how we could possibly compete on that level.”

Regarding his budget he was right; but competition in many markets today isn’t as black and white as it was a decade ago. The Internet, smart devices and the shift in how our culture absorbs content has leveled the playing field. The biggest differentiator today is not money — it’s time, commitment and branding.

Smaller Budgets Mean You Must Work Harder

Gaining ground in marketing today requires either time or money. If you don’t have the money, you need to invest the time to create content, post videos and build a community. None of this happens overnight nor does it require a $1,500-an-article copywriter or a video crew that shoots car commercials. My company created a website juggernaut for one client that challenged its larger competitors within four months of launching. We succeeded by developing a similar volume of new content (articles, video, links, etc.) as theirs for a fraction of the budget.

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Authenticity Has Changed The Game

In the past, few small companies could create commercials or industrial videos that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Even when decent budgets existed, the result often didn’t look slick and professional. Fortunately, in the new world of the amateur aesthetic, where cellphone videos and hand-held productions with sub-par sound can be more influential than a $150,000 big agency commercial, the only differentiator is your ability to go out and get something done.

Be Disruptive, Bold and Unexpected

Unless you have that comfortable budget, the best way to change the game is to do something unique to gain attention. Blendtec, a consumer blender manufacturer, couldn’t compete with the likes of Cuisinart for marketing dollars. As a result, they created “Will It Blend?” a clever video series that upped the ante by creating the practice of “extreme blending” to test the resolve of their product. It was unique and gained millions of views in the process.

DollarShaveClub.com owner Michael Dubin sold razor blade replacements out of a small warehouse where he was the only employee. Instead of producing the expected commercial pitch he defied expectations with a small comedic spot. The YouTube video was hilarious and went viral immediately.

Neither of these videos broke the budget. It was the idea that set them apart. How much does it cost to come up with a clever idea?

Find the Right Channels for Your Small Business

Are you a manufacturer or supplier? You’ll need to be represented on AliBaba.com. Selling swimming pools? Pinterest and Flickr accounts will lead customers to you who might never find you if your photos are only available on your site.

Every product, category and service has a devoted community somewhere online. Do a little research and you’ll find them. If the community doesn’t exist, you have a great opportunity to create one.

Spread the Word Every Day

You’ve created it, now you need to get the word out on it by making the push through social bookmarking sites — Twitter, Tumblr, Stumble, Reddit, Delicious, Digg, Scoop.it, LinkedIn and others. While this can be the most time-consuming activity, in the end it gives you the biggest bang for your limited bucks.

Success for your small business today depends more on your marketing acumen than the budgets of your competition. Sure, there will always be 800-pound gorillas with millions at the ready, but your creativity, discipline and smart planning will go a long way in boosting your brand and your bottom line.

  Discuss This Article

Comments: 3

  • al darnell says:

    Here is my issue. I am 66 years old, just got fired from a business that I have been in for over 40 years, difficult time finding a job and not really employable. I joined Empower Network to do internet marketing, but can’t seem to be successful in developing traffic. Done Utube, pay per click, facebook, adlandpro,Prweb, Laptop Lightening, but still no success during the last four months. Zero sales. I blog everyday—almost, am on the computer everyday and I believe that I follow the 8 core commitments reasonably well. My background is in insurance and I have done well in the past, but now I am starving…no money…help

  • Hi Al,

    The first big problem I see here is that you’re invested into Empower Network. Empower Network is a pyramid scheme. You’d be better off find a project or service you have a passion for (and, if possible, one that has a few high-volume, actionable keywords that haven’t been capitalized on in Google yet) and work toward pushing that.

    Nothing in online marketing today is as simple or as quick a return on investment as it was 10 years ago, unless you have an unlimited marketing budget. It requires PR, a lot of social and digital marketing, and a constant stream of content. If you don’t have an existing “brand” that the general public is familiar with, it will take time to gain traction (lets face it – Coca Cola could do a podcast where their lead accountant reads the dictionary and it’ll STILL gain considerable traffic due of brand recognition).

    I wrote a book on my field. It helped dramatically in increasing my clientelle, but it didn’t happen in a vacuum. I’m out there every day, both online and in the real world, pitching, talking, marketing, and doing the kind of work that helps me keep the clients I have.

    Look at case studies from digital, social and traditional marketing agencies, large and small. Read more books on the subject by reliable sources who’ve been doing this for a while. Most of all, try building an online empire for yourself and not for Empower Networks. I know. This kind of thing is hard to do when you’re starving. I feel for you. I just wouldn’t recommend you spend any more of your hard earned money on selling their service.

  • Another great article on marketing – love the social media angle, especially since it costs only effort rather than money: http://bit.ly/1bKLHCq

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