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Low cost, big return: Make your marketing work for you

Sara Howard
Smarter Writer

As a business owner and writer, Sara Howard has first-hand experience in marketing, cash flow management and technology

Sara Howard
Smarter Writer

As a business owner and writer, Sara Howard has first-hand experience in marketing, cash flow management and technology

For many businesses, the last quarter of the financial year is make-or-break time. If your revenue projections peak towards the busy Christmas or summer season, now's the time to start planning your marketing tactics.

For busy (and cash-strapped) small business owners, marketing should be quick-win, low-cost, and easy-to-implement. That’s the triple trifecta of a magic marketing mix – and here are six ideas you can put into action straight away. But before you dive in headfirst, you need to know two very important things: where is your target audience, and what matters to them?

Globally, $500 billion is spent on advertising, but it doesn’t matter how much money we throw at it, the truth is that it’s interrupting more people more often with messages they don't care about.

glass jars with leaves

Smart businesses are using social media as a way to encourage loyal customers to share that love. In the US, eyewear retail-disrupter Warby Parker send five try-on pairs of prescription glasses to its online customers. They try them on, snap some instagram pics, share those with their friends to help them choose their favourites, and then order. By sharing those pics, they’re effectively creating a free advertising platform for the brand. Locally, Kent & Lime have experienced similar results with their mens’ styling tips. They send blokes a selection of fashion items with five days to review. Whatever the customer doesn’t want is returned.

Cut through the indifference with these marketing tips:

1. Get social, but selectively

Yes, social media is a free way to build awareness and engagement with your business. But it can be time-consuming to build social communities, and not every platform is for everyone. Where is your target market? If they’re young Gen Y, Z or G, they might be on Instagram. If you’re in a B2B market, LinkedIn, Twitter or Slideshare might be your platforms. And yes, just about everyone is on Facebook – but if you’re not selling to consumers, that might not matter. Pick one or two, do them well, keep it consistent, and give them a reason to keep following you.

2. Don’t be shy – seek the publicity spotlight

Every day, journos are looking for stories. That story could be yours. Head to Sourcebottle.com to offer your expert opinion, send your products to key influencers and bloggers, or offer to do an interview with a podcaster. 

3. Run a VIP event or information evening

Showcase your latest collection, host a customer party before the silly season kicks in, or run an exclusive free training session. It’s about goodwill, not hard sell, and it’s a great way to build trust and loyalty. 

4. Turn direct marketing into a community

Bruny Island Cheese Co. winner of the Telstra Small Business Award in 2013, didn’t let geographic isolation get in the way of its marketing. Eight times a year they assemble a selection of seasonal cheeses and email their Cheese Club members. This direct-to-consumer direct marketing is now responsible for up to 90 per cent of sales.

5. Run a competition

We all love the chance to feel like a winner (and get something for nothing!) Make the prize relevant and rewarding, promote it through the most relevant channels (in-store, on Facebook), and maximise your ROI by sharing stories about the winner afterwards. 

6. Make it easier for people to connect

The simplest things can be the best quick-wins. For example, Phonewords are a proven way to make your brand more memorable. And add social media link buttons to all your online and print ads, as well as your email signatures. 

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