Small-business owners often struggle to keep afloat while doing the marketing needed to grow their brands.
Your first step is to figure out how much of your budget you can allocate to marketing in the first place.
Experts recommend small businesses with revenues under $5 million should plan to spend about 7 or 8 percent of their revenue on marketing, with about half of that percentage going to brand development.
If you’re struggling to get going, your budget may be even smaller. Fortunately, there are many ways to brand your business on the cheap.
1. Enlist Help With Your Message
Before working on branding, you must know what your message as a brand is.
You may have a loose idea of what you stand for as a company, but is this how other people see you? Ask for help with this task.
First, pull in your employees and brainstorm your message. What comes to mind when they think of your business? If a family member or friend asked about the company they work for, what would they say?
Next, poll your current customers. How do they see your brand and what are the things consumers think you stand for?
2. Find Your Voice
The next step in branding your business is to find your tone as a company.
If you sell party supplies, then your tone will likely be hip and fun. On the other hand, if you offer funeral services, your voice should be a bit more somber and serious.
Find your voice as a brand, because it will impact every bit of marketing you do and the message you send out.
Your voice should be consistent whether you’re writing content for your website or posting on social media.
3. Know Your Audience
You’ve heard this one over and over again until you want to scream, “I know!” However, it bears repeating because it is such an essential element in your overall branding efforts.
In a survey of companies, 82 percent of those with a clear buyer persona had the best value propositions. A strong value proposition leads to more conversions.
Take the time to dig into your internal data as well as website analytics.
Once you have a clear picture of the type of person who buys your product, create a general buyer persona that represents that person.
A persona gives you someone to market to and helps you figure out if your brand message resonates with your buyer or not.
4. Pay Attention to Visuals
Visual branding is a powerful component of marketing. People tend to remember what they see more than what they read or hear.
Your visuals impact every part of your company’s online presence.
Pay attention to little details, such as how to incorporate visuals into your branding and which visual guidelines work best for your company.
5. Ramp up Your Social Media
Social media allows you to get your brand in front of potential customers at a low price point.
If you aren’t sure where to start, 72 percent of adults who are online use Facebook, which is about 62 percent of the adult population in the United States.
Once you’ve mastered Facebook, take the time to study the other social media platforms and figure out which ones best match your buyer persona.
For example, more women use Pinterest than men. Younger people prefer Instagram and Snapchat. Seek the platform that has the people you most want to reach with your brand message.
6. Remain Consistent
One thing you can do that doesn’t cost a dime is to remain consistent in all your marketing.
Use your logo on your website, with your social media, in your newsletter
You’ve already developed a voice, so keep it consistent, whether you are on your website or social media.
Consistency is a vital part of
7. Team up With Others
You may not have a huge budget for advertising, but you can team up with others and share what you do with one another’s
Seek influencers on social media who are respected in your industry but are not competitors.
Think through how you can help each other. If you retweet one of their posts on Twitter, what is the advantage to the influencer? Will their audience care about your product?
Remember that blatant self-promotion is rarely well received.
Think about the value you offer to the consumer and how it ties into your overall branding message. You might provide a free consultation or some type of advice related to your business.
8. Get Creative With Content
Content marketing works — that’s why 90 percent of organizations use content as part of their marketing campaigns.
Content is something you can create yourself if you have the time to invest. If you plan to hire people to create content, it is better to go with quality over quantity.
Just because you can hire a writer for $2 an article or buy a $5 infographic doesn’t mean you should. A blog post riddled with grammatical errors and copied content isn’t the best reflection of your brand.
Instead, shoot a video about how to use your product. Write a Q&A post answering some of your customers’ top questions or snap some photos of new products and share them on social media.
As your business grows, you can hire content creation out.
Building a brand requires time and effort.
Don’t wait until you have a huge marketing budget to get started. Have fun doing the things you can do inexpensively to build your brand.
Over time, your revenue will increase and so will your marketing budget.
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