8 Alternatives to Big Budget Ads to Build Your Small Business Brand

Although advertising is often talked about in terms of sales, the strategy behind most of the ads we see is really about branding. Of course big brands want to see a spike in sales right after their big budget campaign gets out into the world, but that's where the old John Wanamaker quote comes in:"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." Small businesses with a small marketing budget can’t afford to be that wasteful. Every dollar has to pull its weight, which is why it's important to see your ad spend and marketing materials as an opportunity to build your brand. As we examined last week, it takes several impressions and exposures to a brand before a customer begins to move down the path to purchase, so finding alternative arenas to engage your customer is more important now than it has ever been. But if you can't afford to occupy the airwaves and blanket the banner ads with your brand assets, where can you go to get in front of your target market? shutterstock_70559461

8 Alternative Ways to Build Your Brand (On a Budget)

Because vanity phone numbers are multi-purpose marketing tools, designed to Here are some starting points to help get your brand message out there without spending a fortune:
  • 1. Expand Your Web Presence: Sure, there are always more sites to join and no time to manage them, but some are easier than others to set up and require much less maintenance. A concerted effort to establish a wider presence on local business directories, for example, only requires the up front investment of time and a review once or twice a year to ensure your details are accurate. Read our article on expanding local listings for more on this topic.
  • 2. Be (Organically) Present: When you can't pay to get your message ot there, consistency is key to maintain organic reach. You need to post regularly and in different ways - video, audio, images and plain old text - in get in front of people and see what works. Test different social networks, site content, and styles of email outreach to learn what gets the most attention from your target audience and insert more of that into your publishing schedule. An editorial calendar of topics and channels can help you to stick to this schedule and keep consistent.
  • 3. Write Your Own Script: Content matters because most consumers research before they buy. Writing your own content relevant to your industry definitely takes time, but it's something you can do on a small budget and will keep attracting customer eyeballs long after other advertising campaigns have expired.
  • 4. Build a Subscriber List: If you already have a blog, that’s great! Offer up a way for your readers to enter their email address. If you don’t have a blog, try placing a plugin elsewhere on your site or asking new and existing clients to share your latest newsletter with their contacts. A regular email newsletter that's relevant and interesting to your audience is one of the best (and most high-converting!) ways to stay in touch with potential customers and help them to shuffle along your sales funnel.
  • 5. Spark Interest: Use social networks and your email newsletter to tell stories about customers and update on industry news. Make your fans and subscribers want to read what you send them and look forward to getting it. They'll keep coming back because you offer value, which is much more effective for building brand reputation than a passive ad impression.
  • 6. Answer Questions via Video: The FAQ section of any site is usually very popular, so why not supercharge the concept and open the door to viral video? By answering questions on a visual platform like YouTube, Facebook, or even the newer video solutions on the likes of Instagram and Periscope, you can give customers the answers they need directly, while also making them insanely easy to share. Do this well and you'll not only please current customers but also attract a whole bunch of new ones.
  • 7. Host a Contest or Support a Cause: Nothing gets your name out in front of people more naturally than giving something away -- or giving your support to a good cause. Create contests based on your fans sharing content or signing up for a newsletter so that you can get in front of them and/or their networks more often. With a good cause, encourage extra shares of the message by increasing the amount you donate - whether time, money, products or services - as the message reaches more people.
  • 8. Ask for Feedback: Constructive criticism is always helpful, even if it can sometimes hard to hear. It's also a valuable way to get back in a customer's good books if your brand has done something wrong, or even those times when you jst haven't quite offered what they need. Make it easy for fans and customers to access you by providing quick and memorable contact points like live chat, a vanity phone number dedicated to customer care, and a regular old service email address. Act on what you learn and respond promptly to let everyone know you've done so. Every service failure has a silver lining: the opportunity to get in front of customers again and rebuild a more positive impression for your brand
  Do you have ideas to add that have worked for your small business marketing budget? We'd love to hear about them all on any of the social networks you see below!  

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