Low budget? New heights!

As a business owner (new or otherwise), when cash-flow is low there are things you can do to get your marketing going - affordably, even at no cost. This is not a long term strategy, of course (invest dollars in yourself!), but in leaner times you can still stay out there and gain traction. Thinking creatively helps, too!

Limits to limitless

OK, so if you simply cannot spend on marketing right now, what can you do? First, do spend on marketing soon and don’t stop altogether. This is temporary…until your funded marketing plan can take off again. Two things you will need of value: your creativity and your time. This assumes you have basic funds invested in your business - and you at least have a website (including a logo). No website? You’ll have to take a step back and get that going. Depending on your business, it is possible to have a simple, affordable website created - something like a one-pager or a single landing page that lets folks know your main site is coming soon.

Start those brain waves

You know what to do! Get that brainstorming list going. Here are some quick, initial ideas: social media is a great way to keep your foot on the gas, and it’s (mostly) free. Share quotes, create your own quotes, use free stock imagery to bump up your feed (if you don’t otherwise have good photos), post testimonials…on and on. Start a blog. Rev up that e-news (or begin). Join a committee or a board of directors. Chambers are excellent resources, and often membership dues are within reach. Lead a workshop. Go to networking events. Start one. You get the idea…give some time, get involved and go.

Moving around that stove-top

There are many start-ups or established businesses that, surprisingly, don’t allocate dollars to marketing, ever. And these dollars really should be significant (think thousands). But! We’re not always there. Small/mid-size business owners have many expenses, demands and commitments all vying for the front burner. At least one of those “marketing” burners should be on all the time. Sometimes it’s full blast, other times a low simmer…but it’s never off completely.

Passions? Perfect!

I always encourage clients to advertise/promote/market in an environment they love. Cherry-picking is a good approach, choose the most selective outlets you can. The arts, community outreach, charitable initiatives, kids programs and more are great opportunities to be seen. Place an ad in a playbill or special event program. Sponsor an event. Volunteer. At the end of the day, you’ll be doing some marketing and, best outcome, you’re supporting something you care about.

Go with the ebb and flow

Now that your exposure has increased, your network has grown and your creativity has been sharpened, you can start to get some dollars behind your marketing again. You can go slow if that’s needed, or perhaps put some serious bucks behind a new website or robust print campaign. You may get stuck again and have to rely on some of those free ideas. Now you know you can save or spend and your brand will be just fine.

(published 2023)