Ways to Create an Affordable & Effective Marketing Plan

Many small and medium-sized companies have great products and services, but struggle with marketing. There are so many advertising choices, platforms, and new technologies available that many business owners don’t know where to start. 

However, without a solid plan in place, your business will face higher marketing costs and less effective results. Creating a comprehensive strategy that incorporates the right mix of marketing tools can boost your sales and help you achieve growth with less expense.

Here are some suggestions and ideas on how to market your business more effectively and affordably.

Start by knowing your audience and their needs

To get the best results from your marketing efforts and investments, you need to ensure that you understand exactly who your target audience is. 

Do you sell products for new mothers? Offer goods to other small business owners? Provide services to local homeowners? Ask yourself what kind of customer(s) would benefit the most from what you have to offer, and why they should buy from you instead of your competition.

Knowing your target market and their needs is vital to spending marketing dollars wisely, because this information not only helps you know who to target, but where to focus your energy and communication. Once you know the ‘who’, you can identify characteristics and behaviours, such as age, location, preferences, best media channels, and the problems you can help them solve. 

In this way, you can achieve more effective results with less money and create messages that demonstrate how your service or product fits their needs and solves their problems.

To market your business affordably, start with digital opportunities

In November, Australia’s National Retail Association (NRA) shared a 2023 digital marketing report based on a survey of 700 businesses, which found that only 11% of small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are fully embracing digital strategies. 

This finding is highly surprising given the low cost of many available digital marketing choices – but it also means that you have an opportunity to take advantage of these options and potentially gain an edge over your competition. Here are four digital marketing areas where a little planning and strategy can help you use your budget more effectively, saving money for other promotions elsewhere.

  1. Social media

In the NRA report mentioned above, surveyors found that only 25% of SMEs proactively engage on social media platforms. This is a missed opportunity to connect with a broader audience at a very low cost.

Determine the channels that are most applicable to your target market. Are your customers most likely to use LinkedIn? Instagram? Facebook? Next, create a posting calendar for several months that includes interesting, authentic posts (not just sales-oriented material). Staff stories, announcements, answers to common customer questions and tips on how to use your products are good places to start.

  1. Website

According to the NRA report, 85% of Australian SMEs display their service offerings on their websites, which is good, but only 36% of Australian small businesses use search engine optimisation SEO efficiently, and only 13% provide testimonials or any form of social proof, missing out on a chance to build trust with prospects. Posting positive customer feedback and reviews (see more on this below) and ensuring your site maximises SEO are both excellent ways to improve your site and your web traffic. 

And if you don’t have a website? There are numerous platforms available that can help you build a DIY website – including an e-commerce site – quickly and relatively easily, such as Squarespace, Weebly and Wix.

  1. Email marketing

If you don’t already have an email marketing program in place, you can start by asking your customers to sign up and make it easy for website prospects to join your list. Incentives for signing up – such as coupons or access to special offers – can really help jumpstart your list-building. Once in place, using your list to send timely information and sales offers can drive audience engagement and boost sales – just don’t send emails so often that your recipients get overwhelmed!

If you don’t have an email marketing client to use, there are numerous low-cost, online platforms that can help with list management and templates, such as MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, Klaviyo Sender, and MailerLite.

  1. Recommendations and Reviews

Here’s a great way to let your customers help you with your marketing! Recommendations and reviews by customers can help add a powerful element of your efforts, so ask satisfied customers to review your business online or on social media – getting reviews on your Google page should be your priority. Asking for feedback from customers through a simple survey can also help you understand where your business might benefit from changes or improvements.

With a sound plan and the effective use of digital marketing options, your business can develop an affordable, more effective marketing strategy. For help with any of these areas, contact your Accru advisor.

About the Author
Chris has spent his entire career at Accru Harris Orchard. After joining in 1981, he left to study, and to gain experience working overseas – and then returned to the firm he feels so much a part of.
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