Times are tough. Budgets are tight. But you’ve still got to keep yourself out there in terms of marketing. There are some time-tested marketing techniques that require a bit more time and less cash than what you might focus on when cash flow is healthier.
If delivery of your product involves any kind of packaging, consider full color labels. A box of 100 - 2” x 4” Avery type labels can be had for less than $30. You can buy and print yourself, or your friendly neighborhood print shop can provide labels and full color printing for about $2/sheet (10 labels). At 20 cents a pop, it’s a cost effective way to create a bit more awareness among your customers and the people they deal with. It’s also a good idea to include samples and/or promotional items along with packaged or shipped items. Toss in some extras, so they can share.
If you’re sending out invoices, including a flyer, update, magnet or a couple of business cards likely wont cost you any more in postage and makes it easy for your existing customers to refer you to friends and associates.
If direct mail is no longer in your budget, consider door hangers. They don’t cost any more than postcards and even if you don’t have time to distribute yourself, it shouldn’t take long to find some enterprising individuals willing to do the job at 10 cents/piece. You may even be able to enlist your favorite non-profit to provide the footwork in exchange for donating what you would have paid hired help. Another distribution alternative is inserts in local, regional papers. Most charge about 5 cents per piece (not including printing). It’s not quite as direct as a mailing list, but at just over 10% of the cost of first class mail, it’s a great value.
Banners can be a great value as well. They can be used many times over and they’re portable. You can display them on your site and/or, for a small fee, many youth sports organizations and community events organizers will let you display them at games and other activities. Many new cars are not conducive to car magnets, due to the contours of the doors. But, if yours is, you might want to put your vehicle to work. Even if you only put them on while parked in a conspicuous location during business hours, it’s extremely cost effective. Just be sure to store them flat when you take them off.
Business card and calendar magnets are a perennial favorite as well. Again, if you want your current customers to remember and refer you, make it easy. What’s easier than walking over and looking at the fridge or the side of the filing cabinet or microwave while you’re talking on the phone?
Above all, don’t let fretting over a tight budget cause your execution to suffer. The customers you already have are your number one priority. Take good care of them and they will bring you others. If you run into a problem, be up front and communicate. Most will forgive a mistake. But if they feel like they’re being ignored or misled, they’ll take it personally. There are too many people competing for the same business for you to lose a good customer because you didn’t want to make a potentially awkward phone call.
These are not revolutionary new ideas. But they may be ideas that got brushed aside when you could afford to try other things. The key, when money is tight, is to focus not on what you can’t do, but on what you can do.