50 Low Budget – High Impact Marketing Strategies for Cash Strapped Businesses

It happens to the best of us. Whether you’re a bootstrapped start-up, or an existing business with cash flow issues, at some point or another most businesses will come to need to invest in their marketing tactics to boost their business and get some more business through the door. These fifty inexpensive marketing strategies will help you engage and leverage your customers, build lucrative relationships, and ultimately keep your brand at the top-of-mind when it comes to people searching for the product/service you have to offer.

Learn How to Ask for Referrals: You’re much more likely to get something if you ask for it! Don’t just assume your clients will pass along the good word-of-mouth about you. So do you want to get more clients? Get over the fear of asking and force yourself to get in the habit of asking for a referral from every satisfied customer.

Learn the Most Likely Places to Find Clients – and go to those places: Think of the obvious places your target audience will be and go to those places to drum up new business in person or simply just leave a stack of your business cards there.

Host a Workshop, Event or Class Related to Your Products/Services: People love to learn so classes on topics related to your products and services can bring big gains. Plan an event or class to host, then print out flyers and post them in your local community and areas where target clients will see them. Bulletin boards, libraries, coffee shops, and adult education centres etc.)

Create a Brochure: Brochures can be great sales tools as they are relatively cheap, give you some in-hand marketing material when you’re discussing your products or services and also give potential customers who want to think over your pitch to have something to take away with them.

Get Free Publicity for Your Business: Do this by involving the media (including social media!) in your big business events such as grand openings, new products launches, moves, or charity events. Don’t have one of these happening in the near future? You can always get involved in someone else’s charity event by becoming a sponsor.

Create a Website for Your Small Business: If you don’t already have one, it’s a vital necessity nowadays for a business to have a website. Even if it’s a basic one that simply presents the who, what, where and why of your business at least it gives you a home on the web and a chance of coming up in local search – critical for getting your business found nowadays. There are lots of great website building platforms out there, with WordPress being one of them.

Create a Blog for Your Business: Blogging can create a bigger market for your products or services if you share valuable, regular and engaging content consistently. You should also cultivate your blogging community by visiting and commenting on other relevant blogs regularly. (Be smart; pick the ones your customers are likely to be visiting too.)

Develop a Social Media Marketing Plan and Implement it: Developing a presence on social media is a great and vital low budget marketing strategy. Download my free eBook that has a great social media strategy template (if I do say so myself!).

Spend Money on Social Media Advertising: All the major platforms offer forms of inexpensive advertising, often with incredible targeting options. Learn about Facebook ads and Twitter ads in the above eBook.

Become a Radio Guest: Radio can be a very effective way of targeting your potential customers and is a much more inexpensive form of advertising compared to other channels such as television. Get in touch with your local radio for potential deals on airtime ads/interviews.

Develop Business Partnerships: Cross-promotion is a great way to tap into a wider audience, cut down on the cost of advertising and can create valuable relationships that benefit all the partners involved. This can be done locally offline through some kind of special event, or online with a webinar or promotional giveaway

Send out Promotions with your Invoices: A no-brainer that’s often forgotten! You’re sending out a document anyhow so why not include a promotion?

Learn How to Write a Killer Sales Letter: Whether it’s direct mail or email, once you’ve written one, be sure to learn how to maximize the response to your sales letter.

Create an Email Newsletter: This gives you a great opportunity to stay in regular contact with your customers, sharing business news, latest offers etc.

Join a face-to-face Networking Group: There’s no faster, easier way to make contacts and get known in your local community.

Participate in Local Business Trade Fairs: While trade shows are far from easy, they can be one of the most rewarding forms of marketing when approached with the right strategy. Your attendance will be rewarded with rapidly expanding your database of sales leads, meeting and connecting with prospective customers and learning about new developments in your industry.

Apply for Business Awards: Getting a business award under your belt is a great way to build credibility and generate positive PR. There’s nothing wrong with a nomination from a friend or even nominating yourself – just make sure you’re entered!

Advertise Your Business on Your Vehicle: Be seen whilst you’re out and about by putting a vinyl wrap on your car with your logo, business name and contact detail and/or place a plastic business card holder on the side of your vehicle.

Pamper Your Existing Customer: Make sure you’re not neglecting the people who already know and trust you, as typically it’s five times as expensive to make a sale to a new customer as it is to an existing one. For example you could take your best customers out to dinner using the opportunity to ask them about how to improve your business or write to your customers to reward them with exclusive benefits such as a new loyalty program or an invite to sneak preview your latest product.

Utilize Your Business Setting: Your building and surrounding land or sidewalk are great places to put up signs and banners.

Push For PR: A media story is much more valuable than an advertisement because of the credibility it gives your business. Journalists’ are looking for a compelling story to tell so help them by letting them know about an interesting story of yours involving an innovative product, unusual customer contact or gamble that paid off.

Turn Employees into Ambassadors: Your employees are part of the community and have all sorts of contacts that could help you so think of ways you can keep them motivated and utilize them.

Give Back: Channel into your inner good by sponsoring your local lads football team or having a charity collection jar by the cash register. You’ll feel good by doing your bit for the community but will also benefit by generating goodwill with customers. As an example for less than the cost of a 1/4 page ad in a local paper, you can buy team uniforms for your local sports teams and not only will you get the team, and their friends, family and fans attention but it will show a very wide audience that your business is a genuine part of the local community.

Create Instructional Videos: Video content is really valuable, but it needn’t be costly to get quality YouTube videos produced. You can research the plenty of guides out there to help, or you can get others involved on a budget by using sites such as Fiverr.

Get Ad Promo Credits: Big ad campaigns may be out of your budget but there are often discounts and coupons floating around out there for paid Facebook Ads or Google ads.

Create DIY Infographics: Infographics are very powerful marketing tools as they’re visually appealing, easy to digest, and people love to share them. All in all they’re a great way to drive up referral traffic and links. There are plenty of free vector kits out there for Adobe Illustrator. Check out Visual.ly for inspiration, they have many examples for you to browse through.

Recycle Your Content: Breathe life into your old content by turning them into new creations! For example, you could turn a collection of blog posts into an eBook.

Develop a Customer Referral Program: Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool, so encourage your existing customers to spread the word by offering a free product, free month of service, or some other reward for referring new customers.

Hold a Contest: Contests are an inexpensive, effortless and exciting way to grow your business and increase online engagement as you often only need to worry about the costs of monitoring the contest and prizes.

Guerilla Marketing: An advertisement strategy designed for businesses to emphasise the creativity and promote their products or services in an unconventional way with little budget to spend. Take a look at these successful examples.

Business Card Draw: This simply idea involves you putting a big glass bowl at your place of business with a sign asking visitors to drop their business cards in for a chance to win something. At the end of the month when you’ve collected loads of business cards, you draw a winner. The real winner here is you however as there’s no reason those other business cards you’ve collected have to go to waste! Use the email addresses provided to let users know that while they haven’t won this time, they are more than welcome to join your mailing list, which will notify them of future giveaways and special offers.

Email Marketing: A great way to get new visitors engaged with your business and maintain relationships with your existing customers. The key to success is to get new website visitors to sign up for your newsletter by offering a bonus content piece for subscribing (e.g. free ebook) then slowly nurture your subscribers via email until they are ready to become paying customers. MailChimp is a great free email marketing service.

Give Away Balloons at Local Events: For a few hundred quid you can rent a helium tank and get a few hundred custom balloons printed with your business name. This is great as a summer imitative at a fair or community event as you’ll have a bunch of happy people marching around with your brand floating above their heads.

List Your Company on Google Maps/Google My Business: Google Maps/Local presence is important for many reasons as It directs customers to your establishment when they are in the area, and your business typically appears higher in Google search rankings.

Use Google Products: Google has provided businesses with a toolbox of marketing goodies (Analytics, Google+, Google my Business etc.) that will only help your business grow. By following their terms of service and best practices, you can help your business gain recognition.

Learn From What Your Competitors Do: It’s important to look at what your competitors are doing as you can get a good sense of how they have become successful, and where they are lacking in their marketing efforts. Both of which you can apply to your own efforts.

Revisit Your Landing Pages: Landing page design can have a huge impact on your conversion rates. If you’re doing any kind of advertising or email marketing, your landing pages are where people who are interested in your offerings decide to “convert” into a lead or a customer or not so you need to regularly update and maximise them to make sure they are fit for purpose.

Make Reporters Come to You: Instead of always sending boring pitching reports with story ideas, go straight to the horse’s mouth and schedule a coffee meeting with the local relevant reporters in your market. Start the conversation by genuinely attempting to make their lives easier without trying to sell them your story and you will become a valuable resource.

Freebies: Everyone loves a freebie and there are many ways to produce freebies that cost next to nothing. For example: a free eBook on a topic of your expertise, small samples of your product, or discount coupons people can obtain in exchange for their email address.

Be Active in Forums: Join discussion forums where people are actively talking about products and services like yours, topics in your industry, and businesses relevant to your brand. This will help spread the word about your expertise, gain credibility in your industry, and build your network.

Get on Online Directories: This is one of the most efficient and inexpensive forms of marketing your brand. Many of these directories are free to register, and enable users searching for your products and services to quickly find you.

Give a Speech: Many organizations are actively looking for qualified, subject-matter experts who can present to their groups. Get over your fear of public speaking, think of the benefits and volunteer. You don’t have to be a pro as long as the information you share is helpful to the audience. Make it easy for people to associate you and your business with expertise in your field.

Be Generous: To keep customers loyal to you, don’t make the mistake of thinking that promotional items are only for conferences and tradeshows. Send your customers small “surprise” gifts as they always work to instil loyalty and retention. They don’t have to be expensive, consider items such as tea bags, pens and pads, small flashlights or things very target specific to your industry, like small packets of flower seeds for a gardener.

Team up With Larger Firms in the Industry: Find larger companies, or more experienced businesses and invite them to lunch with the intention of asking them to consider referring their smaller cases or business they don’t have time to handle, to you. With every successful referral they give you remember to send them a genuine thank you. This will help you easily build your customer or client base.

Feed Them!: Anything involving free food gets attention. Partner up with local businesses and a restaurant/ Café to throw a special event, complete with free food. Combining your database with other businesses will expose you to an entirely different segment of people for a fraction of the price.

Write For A Trade Magazine: If you want to get people’s attention and have them call you, there’s nothing like writing an article for a trade or local magazine to gain credibility and get the exposure you want. Demonstrate your expertise and position yourself as the go-to person for your product or service with this service and it will make you appear credible because a recognised publication is publishing your content.

Write A Book: The status of being a published author provides you with unprecedented access to media, speaking gigs, and other opportunities like nothing else can and the best part is that it costs nothing other than your time.

Online Reviews: Online reviews are a critical component of your business’ reputation and can do wonders for converting new customers. Let your fans review your business, then incorporate their reviews in your blog post, on your website, promote them on social media and anywhere else that is relevant and will be seen.

Host Educational Events: Partner with businesses that target the same audience as you to host “educational” events. Split the cost and the work that goes into creating the event, including inviting prospects and clients. It’s a cost-effective way to market to the other firms’ clients, to prospects, and to build a relationship with these other partners in order to gain future referrals.

Join in on Weekly Hashtag Hours like #ThrowbackThursday: To build your social media following, you need to be an active participant in the community. A great way to get your content seen by many eyes is to join in on a relevant fun weekly social media hour that already has a loyal audience. There’s a hashtag for almost anything, check which ones you could join in with here.

Go Back to Basics: In an online age, there’s still something to be said for going back to basics and conducting some ‘real life’ marketing. For example you can go old school with flyers and poster in local cafes etc.


BONUS! If it’s social media marketing you need help with there are many ways I can help you for free, take a look at this! Or if you can spare 8 quid then my new book is filled with more social media tips than you can shake a stick at!


How to Make Sure You’re Successful on Social Media

Want to ensure your social media presence is ultimately going to be a successful addition to your marketing strategy? Take note of these 24 best practices!


Have Goals and Objectives

Like every other marketing and business initiative, you need to have a goal or objective that you what your social media presence to achieve. Whether you want to use it to improve brand awareness or as a new outlet to interact with customers, having clear objectives for your platforms helps to optimise their reach and impact. In addition, having well-defined objectives also makes it clearer for you in what to measure for your return on investment. It is also worth noting that return on investment with social media marketing cannot always be measured in money. Whilst it can drive sales, the real power of social media marketing is in building relationships with customers. Whatever your objectives, make them achievable and relevant for your business and remember as you progress these objectives may change.


Portray Yourself Consistently

It is important that before you engage in social media that you are clear on what kind of image you want to portray of yourself and make sure to keep it consistent across all platforms. This consistency equally applies not just to the ‘voice’ you portray but also to the creative aspects, that is the overall presentation including the colour scheme and typography. If your brand or company uses certain colours then be sure to apply these consistently across the presentation of all your social media platforms. This also extends to a company logo or picture, make sure they are up to date and reflective of the image you want to portray. Having a social media platform is a great way to show a ‘human’ side to your business that customers appreciate and prefer. From this, it is important to have an idea of what voice you want for your page that can be consistently applied across all your posts, especially if your company page is going to be managed by several different contributors. In general, avoid generic corporate speak and replace it with your own unique voice and customers will be more drawn to and engage with you. By setting consistent guidelines over the presentation and integration of your branding into your page it ensures that all these factors support and are in line with your overall branding and help reinforce your message and brand across all social media platforms.


Be Where Your Customers Are

It’s important to have a presence where your customers are looking to interact with you. To find out where you should be there are two easy ways; research the demographics of your intended social media platforms and also ask your customers yourself. When you start researching what platforms you think are best for your business, be sure that their main audience are the ones you want to target. The other option is for you to ask your existing customers where they are active online; this will then help guide your platform choices.


Get In The Habit Of Checking The News

If you’re not already doing this at least once a day, you need to start. Get in the habit of checking both industry news and the news in the world. You don’t need to read an entire newspaper and several journals, just look to bookmark a few key sites and blogs and at the very least, skim the headlines. Social media covers all aspects of people’s lives and the more you understand about them in a wider context, the more you can understand where your brand will fit into your followers’ newsfeed. The added benefit of scanning the news daily means it will also help you to find real time opportunities that you can utilise for your social media content.


Learn To Manage Your Time Effectively

On average, 64% of marketers spend at least 6 hours a week on social media. As more social media platforms, tools and features are added into your marketing mix regularly, it can become overwhelming to keep on top of your timing and not to have your social media management impact your other duties. Timekeeping is one of the most vital skills for an efficient social media marketer, so make sure you’re getting everything done by creating checklists for regular tasks and using social media tools that help you work smarter.


Focus on Building a Community Rather Than a Number of Followers

The number of people following you can only take you so far. Having 10,000+ followers is noteworthy, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how many followers you have if they’re not interacting and paying attention to your content. So what can be done to build a community and increase engagement with your current and potential followers? Simple, always insert some personality, humor, and life into your brand and always converse directly with your followers: which is as simple as having a conversation with them, retweet them, like and comment on their posts, and directly ask them to interact with your content.


Create a Powerful Presence Across all Social Channels

If you want your audience to stay engaged, you need to be engaging. One of the great ways to do this by creating powerful social campaigns that run consistent across all your social platforms. How do you do this? Start by…

  • Telling a powerful story: Think of ways you can use your social channels to tell powerful, motivational and therefore compelling stories to your viewers. For example, you can share a story rooted in charity work that you do or support. Alternatively, you could share stories from your happiest clients on your blog and then create a social campaign with a unique slogan and hashtag to promote and create a movement around their stories. Team this strategy with…
  • Brand your movement with a unique name and hashtags: Branding your movement will make it memorable and stick out in the mind of your followers. Take time to brainstorm actionable ideas that will get followers involved, whether that is done by posting photos and using your hashtag to group them, running a contest, or throwing events run by your business. For example, you could use the inspirational aspect of getting fit, or New Year’s resolutions, or whichever angle you believe your customers would gravitate towards. Test out a few hashtags, find the one that resonates best, and brand your movement by announcing it on your blog and social platforms.

Suck Up to Influencers

The goal is to get these influential people to like you and like your brand. Once you get in with the people that matter, your business will exponentially grow because you are exposed to their audience and authority. Make a thorough list of key industry influencers and actively take the following steps to socially connect with them:

  • Favorite, like, comment, and re-share their content: Don’t favorite/like everything they post however, that is too obvious. Try to like and favourite a few times per week and comment when you genuinely have something educational and valuable to say.
  • Tweet at them: Whether it’s asking their feedback on your content or asking industry related questions, this strategy works very well as they will be flattered that you thought of them and consider them to be a valuable resource/influencer.
  • Use the same hashtags: This way when they’re reviewing their hashtag feeds they’ll see your content, and perhaps spark their interest.

Share Trending Content

Your platforms don’t exist to be solely self-promotional, this strategy will only make you be seen as boring and obnoxious. Rather, you need to strike a balance between sharing promotional content that markets your brand, interacting with your followers and influencers, and sharing other useful and entertaining content and news from other valuable resources. To help you become an industry influencer and produce content that is share-worthy, follow these four tips:

  • Look for viral videos on YouTube of hilarious children, adorable animals, and inspirational moments and re-share with your own unique spin.
  • Scan the news for the highest covered media stories and add a unique perspective keeping relevant to your brand.
  • Follow and use relevant trending hashtags to add your voice to the larger conversations happening on social media. For example on Twitter you can see “Trends.”
  • Use a popular tool like Buzzsumo to find content that resonates. It’s the easiest way to search related industry news sites and blogs, keywords, influencers, etc. to find the content with the highest number of social shares. Study the headlines that were shared and re-share those articles/headlines with your followers. This will continue the train of sharing, but also show your followers that your social posts are intriguing and follow-worthy.

Focus On Creating Content That People Care About and Inspires Conversation

On social media, you can’t depend on passive followers to convert themselves. You need to create as many opportunities to engage people as possible, and it all begins with your content. As people spend longer on social networks, their community expands and with every person followed, page liked, or friend added, they have a whole new set of posts and stories vying for their attention. Brands who have little respect for what people want in their newsfeed will find themselves further fenced off than before, therefore it is vital that the content you share is what your prospects and former customers generally respond well too. This may be a video about how your products work, interesting insights about the culture of your company or shocking stats about inefficiency in your industry for example. Whatever the case may be, build social content that gets your prospects talking to you.


Utilise Every Opportunity to Make Social Media Content

Every piece of content that you post is part of your story that you share with your audience. Everything from your ups and downs, your proudest achievements, to your charity work and the people behind your business are all prime areas in which you can create content that you can share with your viewers. So whenever you launch a new product, attend a conference or find a new way to use one of your products for example, look at the ways in which you can squeeze content out of it for use on your social media platforms.


Promote your Platforms

Anywhere your customers interact with your brand is an opportunity to encourage them to engage with you online. Once you begin, remember to promote all your social media platforms and that includes mentioning them on your e-newsletter, your email signature, business card, product packaging and anywhere else your customers will see it. Your customers and fans need to be told where they can connect with you through social media, so make it clear where you are.


Make Providing Value a Top Priority

Social media is centred on having conversations and engaging with people. That being said, unless the aim of your platforms is to be akin to a personal journal, the content you post should not be simply an update of what you are thinking or doing no with no real substance or value in what you are writing. To avoid to making this mistake every post and tweet should have a clearly defined topic as well as delivering something valuable to the reader, whether that be entertainment or information. You must also write your content with your target audience in mind so rather than trying to appeal to a generic wider audience, write content that contains specialised information and analysis that those interested in your services or in your sector would read. By openly giving out valued advice and information you will become an online repository of specialist knowledge and this will attract the attention of your target audience. Central to being effective is also realising that conversation is a two-way process so you also need to listen to what people are saying to you and about you and respond to them accordingly.


Be Active and Consistent

In order to get the most out of using social media as a marketing tool, you need to post content often. It is therefore vital that in the very beginning you figure out a comfortable writing routine that works with your editorial calendar, be it posting daily or several times a week, and stick to it in order to maintain consistency and maximise your impact. Although it takes some experimentation to find the best publishing schedule for you, there are two things that should always be considered and will dictate your posting schedule; your business goals and what your audience wants.


Respond Quickly

The fact that customer service through social media is quickly becoming an expectation of consumers means you’re publicly open to both criticism and praise online. From this, it is vital that you watch for any negative things that are being said about you and respond quickly and accordingly. Rather than simply deleting any negative comments you receive, as even the most universally loved businesses receive negative comments, view them as an opportunity to win over a customer offering help, guidance or even acknowledging where something went wrong. By dealing with negativity in an open and authentic way you can help build rapport and trust with your customers. Also remember that often you will get praise online in the form of a great review or comment, do not forget to say thank you.


Coordinate Your Social Channels

Your success will be limited If you treat each social media platform as a stand-alone effort. Your networks should work together to help you achieve your goals, with your website acting as your brand’s home base. Coordinate and cross-promote your social media efforts to reach new audiences, boost your following and to push people to your website where they can buy your product or service.


Boost Results With Social Advertising

If you want to accelerate your social media performance, it’s worth your time to explore paid advertising options. Facebook offers a number of advertising options to help boost sales, brand exposure, audience engagement and website traffic. Twitter has two advertising solutions: promoted content that helps you cut through the noise and serve your content to tailored audiences and promoted accounts which help increase the size of your Twitter following. Likewise LinkedIn also offers opportunities to reach specific audiences by advertising or by the use of the sponsored updates feature to increase your brand’s visibility. Even if your budget is limited, don’t dismiss social advertising. Used strategically it can produce great results to boost your visibility and success on social media.


Find Leads Using Social Media Monitoring Tools

Tracking and monitoring conversations happening around your brand and products is a time consuming but vital task that can be made manageable using social media monitoring tools. Ensure you actively make the effort to monitor mentions of your name, your business name, your products and any other keywords related to your business to find conversations already happening in your industry. Jump into those conversations and provide answers, guidance or helpful information where needed. Being useful is one way to start to build relationships with your target market.


Participate in Other People’s Communities (OPC’s)

Actively join and engage the discussions in the communities populated by people likely to use your services and share some of your expertise when it’s relevant. Make it your aim to become and trusted member of these communities. You never want to be promotional in social groups, but if you’re consistently helpful and engaged, prospects will likely be interested and click through to your profile where they’ll find your posts and marketing collateral.


Send Regular Emails with Valuable Content, Deals and Promotions

As your social media connections move into your email list, you can and should continue to provide valuable information, notify them of upcoming deals and promotions and provide general interesting business news and updates. At this point in the funnel you have likely already become a trusted source of information, meaning your subscribers are warmed up to buying from you. Social media is all about building connections with your target market, and making yourself the first name that comes to mind when they’re ready to buy. Take this opportunity to craft perfect email campaigns, using segmentation whenever possible to be sure your content and offers are targeted to specific groups of subscribers and by the strategic use of strong calls to action in your emails to make sure your subscribers know what you want them to do, and what to expect when they click on your offer/content. By continuing to cultivate them with engaging, valuable and entertaining information in your emails, you will help to build connections that will result in long-term, profitable relationships.


Create Customer Advocacy Opportunities

Customer advocacy is where your marketing ROI can take off. You’ll be putting in less effort to reach your marketing goals because your customers will effectively sell for you.

Continue to engage qualified leads and customers

There’s no reason why people should stop learning from you after they become customers. If they’re on an email list or subscribed to your blog, actively send out informational reminders for them to connect with your company on social networks.

Offer occasional incentives for customers to review your services or share certain posts

Depending on your business and market, offering vouchers or bargains such as free consultations can work well. The benefits for you are twofold: You’ll increase brand exposure and subtly help customers become your advocates.

Engage customers specifically about your products and services

If your company offers a complex product, it might be a good idea to create a forum on your website or an entirely hub that’s purely for continued customer support, just for you and your customers to interact around your products.  Externally, LinkedIn showcase pages and Facebook groups might be possible hubs for product-based conversations that build increased trust for your brand and position your company as worth advocating for.

  • Provide substantial advocacy opportunities for repeat customers

Over time, you might form mutually beneficial partnerships with repeat customers. Consider rewarding these relationships with more substantial opportunities such as inviting them to networking events.


Monitor Social for Un-Tagged Brand Mentions

Not every person who mentions your brand or products on social media will tag you in the post. In fact, many social posters may assume that you’ll never even see the posts they create mentioning you. Actively scan your social media networks for these types of mentions and join the conversation by provide pleasantly surprising customer engagement. You should look to actively monitor;

Your Own Brand Terms—make sure to monitor for all variations of your company’s name, including nicknames and common misspellings.

Your Own Product Terms—A less frequently used strategy involves monitoring social for some of your popular products, as well as the common nicknames and misspellings.


Create an Internal FAQ Document

Consult with everyone who manages your social pages and build a document that houses all of these questions and some solid answers. Whilst you should never simply copy-paste those responses over to your customers, you can use this document to quickly guide your response.


Do What Is Right for You

As you become a regular participant on social media platforms, you will find unique ways in which they can be used to the best advantage for your business. Nobody knows your customers and what they expect from you better than you yourself so delivering the content they want and engaging with them is the most important thing and will dictate your decisions surrounding your social media marketing efforts. As with any other marketing efforts, you will learn in time what works and what don’t, the important thing is to learn by doing.


This is an excerpt from my new book “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses” out now in Paperback on Amazon! Head over there now for more of a Free preview! http://amzn.eu/2uuslrD


What is Social Media and Why is it Important?

Social media is the means by which people interact with others in virtual communities and networks allowing them to create, share and exchange information and ideas. With the rapid popularity growth of these new technologies, social media has had a profound impact on the way people discover, read and share news, information and content. Social media encompasses all forms of ‘user generated’ content, from communication platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to multimedia services such as YouTube and virtual gaming platforms like World of Warcraft. It has become extremely popular as it allows people to connect and form relationships in the online world for personal and business use.


How is Social Media Being Used by Businesses?

Social media puts you out there and brings your solutions to your prospects’ doors. As such, the benefits of creating a social presence on the web have been felt by every type of business and industry. Whether you have a restaurant, retail outlet or provide professional services, social media enables you to build your online reputation, increase credibility and help generate business and drive sales. By taking advantage of social media, you can make your business gain more exposure, be more personable and generate and maintain long term connections as well as benefit from rich insights into your customers and industry. All of which can greatly benefit your business in the future.


Why Should You Join In?

With the surge in popularity in having a presence on social media, the chances are that your customers and competitors are already involved. On the web your customers will be talking, forming their opinions and its’s where they’re making their own recommendations to their friends and connections. Likewise your competitors may be already channelling in on those customers and reaping the rewards from engaging with, joining and listening to those conversations. People all around the world may be already talking about your business, so it’s important that you get involved in the conversation and present yourself how you want to be presented on the web. Still not convinced? Here are 5 more reasons why you need social media for your business;

Social Media is Everywhere and Very Popular

Social media has become a central part of most people’s lives, whether they are at home or on the go, people are actively engaging online. These users aren’t just sharing updates from their own lives; they are searching for businesses, products, and services, and connecting with brands through their social channels. People of all ages and genders are actively using social media so no matter how old or young, or what gender your target audience may be, chances are most of them are already logging on and waiting for you to get started.

Social Media Sites are Free

Getting started on most social media platforms is completely free. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, WordPress and LinkedIn all offer free accounts to users and businesses and in most cases signing up won’t require anything more than an email address.  There are features within some platforms that you need to pay for such as a Facebook Ad or a profile upgrade in LinkedIn, but for the purposes of getting started there’s no upfront cost for most of the social networks.

Join an Existing Conversation

Social media provides you with an opportunity to listen to the conversations about your business and industry being openly discussed online. Not only does joining this conversation mean you can hear what is being said about you, it also means you can easily develop a richer understanding of your customers and benefit from insights into your target audiences. Moreover, it can also be used to create dedicated communities where you can host discussions about the products and services you offer or use your followers as an outlet for helping build new ones.

Social Media is Great for Customer Service

Customer service through social media is quickly becoming an expectation of consumers. Businesses have quickly come to realise that it offers a unique opportunity to showcase your customer service skills, promote more intimate business relationships with your customers and enables you to cater to your customer’s needs instantly. In a world where everything is fast-paced, a quick response that showcases how much you care about providing a memorable experience can create a lifelong customer.  Social media allows you to continually strengthen relationships with these customers through social engagement and because this engagement is publicly visible to others, it can introduce your business to a whole new audience and enable you to reach your next customer.

It Helps People Learn More About Your Business

Social media sites are becoming the go-to place for consumers who want to learn more about a business. People are online actively searching for information about anything from product reviews to informative articles and general entertainment so it is up to you to utilise this and use your social media presence to provide valuable, informative and entertaining news and updates to existing and potential audiences.  If customers are already searching for you on Facebook or Twitter and not finding your business, you are missing opportunities to win new customers and inform and engage your existing ones so it is vital that you join in with social media and have your brand heard and seen online.


This is an excerpt from my new book “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses” out now in Paperback on Amazon! Head over there now for more of a Free preview! http://amzn.eu/2uuslrD


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20 Useful Things You Can Do When Business is Slow

Starting a business and making it work takes you on a difficult but rewarding roller coaster ride full of ups and downs. During the ‘ups’ when business is booming it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day with a busy schedule and feeling like there’s a million things on your mind becoming the norm. For many businesses however facing the ‘downs’ can hit you hard especially if you not prepared for or expecting it. Whether it’s a slow intake of new customers, a flurry of bad news and let downs or your sales have come to a grinding halt, when you suddenly realize your businesses is in the midst of a slow period it is crucial that you don’t panic and become disheartened or worried. Rather, take it as a learning curve for you to build your character and your business by capitalizing on those slow times and use the extra time you now suddenly have to help boost your business for the better.

Touch Base with Old Clients

Whether it’s an email, a card or a meeting in person, taking the time to touch base with people you have dealt with in the past can be very rewarding. A simple email giving them some tips/advice/articles you think may be useful to them or even a greetings card thanking them for something they did, by getting in touch you show that you genuinely care about the relationship you had. This in the clients mind could make them remember how much they liked you, which could encourage them to hire you for something new or recommend you to others.

Write or Update your Business Plan

If you already have a business plan, then take the time to go through and do an audit. Go through, assess and update important areas such as whether your business goals are still the same? Has your market changed in some big way? And whether your circumstances have changed dramatically. If you didn’t create a business plan in the beginning (shame on you if you didn’t! 🙂 ) then take the time you now have to do one. They needn’t be a daunting document and there are many useful templates out there to help you and make it straight forward. StartUp Donut is a great place to start.

Take an Online Class or Join a Peer Group to Learn Something new to Expand Your Knowledge/Skill Set

Whether it’s joining an online class, seminar or signing up to a local peer group with fellow business owners, actively learning something new and gaining valuable life lessons and advice from others is a great way to boost your skillset and help you develop valuable knowledge and contacts that you can apply to your future efforts to help boost your business. If you want to know more about utilizing social media then sign up to an industry influencer seminar, or if you want to learn a new business skill then sign up for a course online. You will be thankful you did when you find yourself busy again and utilizing the newly learnt skill!

Audit and Refresh Your Website

Your website should portray you in the best light by looking professional, having up to date information, well placed calls to action and good quality SEO friendly content amongst a whole host of other important factors. Your website ultimately needs to work as hard as you do in terms of attracting future clients so it’s vital that you take the time to do a website audit and overhaul your website if it’s not portraying your business in the way you want it to.

Create a Marketing Schedule for the Weeks, Months or Year Ahead

When you have completed a clear, visual and well thought out plan for your marketing and promotional schedule (either weekly, monthly or yearly) it brings a great sense of accomplishment knowing that the crucial task of marketing your business is organized, working together and not to mention, for the most part, has already been done in advance as you will have done the hard part of creating promotions, tying them in with holidays and having your weekly content ideas etc., planned, organized and in place. You will be thankful that you have done this and had the time spare to do it well as when times start to get busy again you will inevitably not find the time to do it as you find your marketing efforts slip further down the to do list.

Create New Business Cards

In the same way that your website reflects who you are, so too does your business cards. So now is a great time to assess your cards and determine whether they simply need new updated information (inclusion of a new social media platform you have joined, or a change of phone number for example) or whether it is time to order new ones so they portray you in the best light and fit in with your business image. I highly recommend MOO.

Do Something Creative and Start an Exciting New Project

Have you ever wanting to write a short story or poem, get into painting or take that local cookery class you heard about? Whatever it is that gets you active, positive and gets those creative juices flowing, use the time you have available to you now to just do it! Not only is it great to do things you enjoy (as a starting a business can feel like it consumes your whole life) you may find the creative inspiration for something new in your business. Sometimes all it takes is a break from the everyday routine to give your mind and body a boost.

Create a Free Resource

Everyone loves a freebie, and creating a free resource that is valuable, informative and useful to your clients and target audience, is a great way to attract attention and boost engagement. Whether it’s a how to guide, a useful template or something else relevant to you, ensure you utilize it and maximize its investment by making people sign up to receive it or visit your website to download it. That way you not only help portray yourself as a valuable source of industry knowledge, but you also can help generate attention to your business.

Read a Book to Boost your Knowledge/Skill set

Whether it’s a book on business from an influential millionaire successful business owner or a straightforward book on how to utilize a particular social media channel, reading a book and empowering yourself with new knowledge is a great way to get inspired and learn a new skill or even mindset that can help you get positive and boost your business.

Host a Giveaway to Grab Attention

Hosting a giveaway is a surefire way to generate engagement and interest in your business. Whether it’s a free product, a free consultation or a gift voucher, make sure the prize is interesting, relevant and promoted well.

Organize Your Computer

The likelihood is that during your super busy times you have let things slip a bit on your desktop with documents here, there and everywhere with a distinct lack of organized structure. By completely refreshing and organizing your computer, including everything from having clear, logical and organized folders for your all documents, to only having relevant website bookmarks and removing all installed software that you no longer want or use, you will magically clear your computer and your mind allowing you to feel fresh, clear and focused.

Create Templates

Whether it’s a template showing you how to construct a powerful blog post, a written account of the workflow in the event of a new project/client, a reply email that you can personalize whenever a potential client emails you or a general report template, by creating templates that you can easily use and reference, you take the hassle out of these everyday tasks which frees up time for you to focus on other things for your business. Something you will be very thankful for when you become very busy again!

Check Your Google (and Social Media Platform) Analytics

Take the time to thoroughly assess your analytics for your website and social media platforms as you will learn a wealth of important information that can affect and dictate your marketing and general business strategy. Analytics are there to help you make your marketing more effective so make sure you thoroughly analyze your analytics and respond and adapt accordingly to what the information is showing you to ensure your website and platforms are effective as they can be moving forward.

Do a Social Media Audit

By conducting a thorough audit of your social media platforms you ensure they remain fresh, relevant and highly effective, helping maximize your ROI. From making sure your bios and descriptions are up to date, updating your logos, cover images, banners and backgrounds, to assessing what your competitors are doing on their pages and even revisiting and assessing your goals and objectives for each platforms, use your time to have a good look at your profiles to make sure they are reflective of the image you want to portray and are as effective as they can be.

Create Something Useful That You Can Sell

Similarly with creating a resource to give away for free, you can just as easily create one to sell. Whether it’s an eBook, a seminar or even a PowerPoint presentation, ensure you target your audience and fill your resource with valuable, informative and useful content and promote it well so that they can buy and benefit from it. Not only is this great in terms of helping develop yourself as an informed authority in your area, but it is also a great way to earn extra income which can be much needed when business is slow.

Research, Research, Research!

Thorough research is the foundation of a successful business. Whilst you may have undertaken some research in the very beginning of setting up your business, times changes and things develop and move forward so is it vital you stay updated to ensure you are maximizing your business and making sure you are staying competitive and effective. There are several key areas in which you need to be up to date on from what is happening in your industry, factors about your target audience, what your competitors are up to, the latest updates and techniques of the social media platforms you are on and any new upcoming news, trends and developments that could benefit your business.

Clean up your Emails

From client emails, new enquiries, to the newsletters you are subscribed to, your email inbox can quickly get out of control especially during hectic workdays. A quiet period however is the perfect time to go through and organize your mailbox, from creating organized and specific folders for important documents, certain jobs/clients etc. to unsubscribing from newsletters/mailing lists that you no longer want to read or be a part of. Clearing up your mailbox is a great way to refresh your mind and refocus. Not to mention you will feel a great relief in making sure everything in your mailbox is as organized as you can make it so you no longer have to trail through countless emails to find what you need.

Create an Email Campaign

Email campaigns, if done right, are a great way to boost attention. You will have no doubt worked hard to accumulate contacts and developed your email list so utilize and delight your contacts with a valuable and interesting email. For added affect you can use the free resource or giveaway I suggested earlier as bait.

Volunteer

Volunteering is not only a great way to help the charity or business you have chosen but keeping your mind working, busy and active is good for you too. You could have a change of scenery and volunteer in a completely different industry and line of work or if you want to volunteer your own services for free, consider giving your profile and business a bit of a boost by hosting a giveaway with your voluntary service as the prize.

Organize Your Home Life and Do That To Do List!

We all have the ever growing to-do list in our private lives. From painting the garage door, to redecorating the office and general DIY, all of these need to do tasks are always somewhere in the back of your mind. Therefore in the quiet period of your business, why not get them done? Whilst you may feel that painting the bedroom is not relevant and helping you get your business on track, you need to see the bigger picture to see the benefits. As not only is painting -or whatever task you do- allowing your mind to focus on something else other than the problems with your business, but by getting the job done and working through your to do list you clear them from your mind allowing you freely focus and dedicate time to other tasks.


What do you think? Do you have any tips or lessons you’d like to share?

What You Can Learn from These 3 Small Businesses Successfully Using Social Media

For most businesses, having a social media presence is now an essential element of a marketing strategy. Today’s online audiences are online to be informed, engaged and entertained by their favourite brands whilst ultimately expecting their voice to be heard and their needs listened to and met. It is up to you therefore to utilise this social media phenomenon and start reaping the rewards for your business from having a personable, valuable and engaging social media presence.

Whether you are a new business just starting out on social media or have already implemented your social media marketing plan, there is so much value to be gained in seeing examples of what other people and businesses are doing on social media and modelling their best practices. This article showcases three small businesses, that whilst all being in different industries and having different strategies, all display outstanding social media marketing efforts. So without further ado here are my top three small businesses successfully using social media and what you can learn from them.


Kim Garst

Kim Garst is a social media expert, successfully informing, influencing and engaging her audience through her small business social media firm, Boom Social. Kim is very active amongst several social media platforms and is a perfect example of someone who has developed a powerful social presence through providing excellent customer service, strong branding and regular, engaging, varied and tailored content that businesses and those looking to start on the entrepreneurial path are drawn to. This approach has established Kim as an renowned thought leader, with her impressive influence within the industry testimony to that.

Kim’s approach to communicating with her audience is definitely one to admire. She really puts the social in social media and takes the time to respond to every social media interaction on her Facebook and Twitter. Whether it is thanking someone for sharing her article, sharing good advice or sharing the many business and social media tips, quotes and motivational pieces she has, she is always active and always listening to her audience, resulting in a presence that not only demonstrates her successful approach to becoming a well trusted, well informed and personable industry influencer but also by providing real-time, socially connected customer service, she is able to create more trust and credibility with her audience.

Another area in which Kim excels is her impressive visual branding, successfully creating a consistent look and feel across her website and all of her social media profiles. Kim makes sure that her advice, quotes, tips and other motivational sayings are delivered on good, high quality branded photos and by combing this approach with another one of her triumphs, that is her impressive use of relevant hashtags on Twitter, such as #socialmedia, #BizTip and #SocialMediaMarketing she is able to ensure that her branded messages target and reach others beyond her immediate circle, making it easy for people searching certain kinds of content to find her.

Ultimately it’s no surprise Kim is a social media expert, she demonstrates her expertise, personality and outstanding customer service skills to businesses worldwide by simply sharing engaging resources and advice through her website and social media platforms and ultimately listening to and engaging with her fans. It’s such a simple strategy but is the very foundation of a successful social media presence.

Key Takeaways

  •     Ensure you humanise your brand by being genuine, honest and authentic in order to create truly personal and meaningful connections.
  •     Aim to become a thought leader in your industry through actively sharing useful resources and tips with your fans.
  •     Maintain a consistent strong branding throughout all of your online presence.
  •     Utilise Hashtags to reach new audiences.
  •     Dedicate time and resources to listening to and engaging with your fans and make demonstrating your excellent customer service skills a priority.

Brew Dog

BrewDog is a brewery in Scotland using social media to ‘Push limits and challenge conventions with award winning craft beer’. Along the way they are gaining a reputation for courting controversy but at the same time offering a bold, provocative, irreverent and most of all highly impactful and successful approach to social media marketing.

Whilst causing controversy or offence is not for the average content marketer, BrewDog not only gets away with it, but revels in it, due to their complete self-confidence in their philosophy and a no qualms attitude towards telling everyone about it. At the very basic level this shows a great case study of a business with a strong brand ethic, something which should be admired.

Having a strong philosophy (that is, their love of beer and challenging the conventional big breweries) instantly makes every post and status update crafted in a purposeful way and directed towards a goal and BrewDog is testament to this end. With cleverly produced and humorous videos, stunts such as driving a tank through the streets of London, projections onto the British House of Parliament and serving beer out of dead animals, they court controversy, divide opinion and importantly attract publicity and attention for themselves whilst perfectly demonstrating with their edgy, out there image that earns them a very targeted and loyal following.

In the midst of the controversy, BrewDog however is testament of a brand with an excellent social and collaborate strategy, in that they strive to involve their customers is every aspect of their journey. From asking for suggestions for wording on their new labelling, engaging their audience through regular questions on Facebook and Twitter, right through to their brilliantly successful crowd funding venture, they genuinely show they care about their audience and are interested in involving them in the business and listening to their thought and opinions.

Another area in which BrewDog excel is through their ability to successfully capitalise on up-coming events and trends, cleverly ensuring they secure coverage and attention for themselves while continuing to show their personality and appease their loyal following who are expecting these bold, clever and out there antics. Their ‘Hello, my name is Vladimir’, a ‘not for gays’ beer in protest at Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay laws, launched to coincide with the Winter Olympics in Sochi, is a great example of their excellent use of capitalising on a worldwide event. Whilst this controversial approach divides opinion, it ultimately garners them a lot attention which is crucial for small businesses in terms of brand awareness and keeping their brand in front and centre of their target audience’s minds. After all, without this provocative marketing approach BrewDog may not have had such a large impact in a crowded marketplace.

Ultimately, BrewDog have remained true to their philosophy, personality and attitude and this has simply been transferred to their marketing efforts. Through varied, regular and interesting blog posts, to clever and humorous videos to boost viral reach, right through to the two founders being active throughout their social media profiles which helps humanise the brand and show personality, it’s hard to find fault with a brand that is confident, consistent and clever in their approach no matter who it might offend.

Key Takeaways

  •     Be provocative, but only where it suits your brand.
  •     Make strategic use of relevant national or world trends and events to attract attention and grow your fan base.
  •     Be true to your strong brand ethic and recognise the importance of continuing conversation whether or not your brand or your approach is particularly liked.
  •     Put your customers at the forefront of your marketing, always listen to, learn from and encourage and engage your audience.

Daylesford Farm

Daylesford Farm is an organic farm in Gloucestershire with farmshops and cafes in London. Daylesford Farm is excelling in their social media efforts as they clearly understand the importance of sharing quality content and engaging with their audience and as such have brought the social and collaborative experience to the forefront of their marketing efforts.

Where Daylesford Farm truly excels is within their use of content and engagement strategies. Throughout all their social media channels Daylesford Farm place emphasis on providing valuable, targeted and engaging content fine-tuned to appeal to and capture their audience’s interest and attention. Every tweet, retweet, post and status update is shared with a purpose in mind, so whether it’s offering seasonal recipes to try, great tips, facts, competitions, testimonials, articles promoting sustainability in food and farming, humanising the business through showing the faces behind the brand or news and updates relating to their cookery school, farm shop, cafe and other activities, they ensure that each post is purposeful, informative and useful to their audience. In doing so, Daylesford Farm has given their social media followers lots of reasons to engage with and revisit their profiles and this is reflected in the high engagement and sharing levels of their updates.Importantly amongst their efforts they also cross promote each piece of content across their social media platforms and demonstrate well their impressive understanding of the need to tailor the content for each different platform. The result of which means that they attract and form a relevant, captive audience that regularly comes to their social media platforms to interact and be informed and entertained.

Daylesford Farm have also cleverly integrated social media into almost every aspect of their website. From the often overlooked but crucial clear placement of social media icons across all pages of their website, to utilising social media widgets on their website and the online shop where social media icons are clearly displayed for you to share the product, it is clear that Daylesford Farm is projecting themselves as a social brand. The key benefit here is that in doing so they have created this very social experience for the visitor, making it easy to connect socially and for the most part, you don’t have to leave the website to do so, which encourages viewers to stay on the website for longer, allowing Daylesford Farm to effectively increase their fan/follower base from their website.

Ultimately Daylesford farm clearly understand and demonstrate well how to get the best out of each social media platform. They tailor content well, provide excellent customer service and importantly provide varied, consistent and engaging content that regularly keeps their audience coming back for more.

Key Takeaways

  •  Ensure every post you create is designed with a purpose and your target audience in mind. Whether it’s to inform, entertain, educate or engage, make everything that goes into your post (tone, pictures, links etc.) work towards and compliment your overall purpose for the post.
  •  Make sure that on your website you provide the visitor with lots of opportunities to connect with you socially. You can do this by clearly displaying your social media icons on your website pages and utilising any website social widgets that can enhance your marketing efforts.
  • Provide fans with reasons to keep returning to your social media profiles by offering valuable content, competitions, industry insights, informative resources and anything else your target audience will find interesting.
  • Differentiate and tailor your social media strategy to match the platform you are using.

What are your thoughts? Who are your favourite brands successfully using social media?

‘‘Facts Tell but Stories Sell’’ Why You Should Use Social Media to Tell Your Brand Story

In the fast-paced, digital world in which we now live, how businesses successfully attract and keep the attention of customers is undergoing a shift. In all the endless amounts of information that is seen and shared across the internet every day one of the most successful ways to break through the information and have yourself heard is to harness the power of storytelling in your content marketing. By sharing your authentic and inspirational brand stories through conversations with clients, colleagues, customers and friends you instantly captivate and form a personal connection with them by encouraging them to become emotionally involved. It is in doing so that you harness the ability to shape and affect the personal and business lives of those who are listening to your stories in very big and real ways.

Sharing stories from your company founders, to your business morals and values, your business highs and lows and why you even do what you do sets the scene for a social relationship with your online audience and provides authenticity to your brand by showing there exists a real human behind your real business. Each small blog post, status update, photo, or video provides your audience with a small piece of your business puzzle that make up the elements of your story. As those pieces all fit together they give your customers the wider picture and put your business into context, helping them to better understand who you are, what you do, and ultimately tells them why they should care about you.

Thus why in a world where the consumer is now in control of what they view, share and on which platforms, you have to earn their attention by combining the power of storytelling with a platform that allows you to connect and share your story with your customers and encourage them to share those stories with others. The platform perfectly suited for this is of course social media.

Here are a few links to help get you inspired and help you to share your brand stories;

  • Click Here for 83 Engaging Ideas For Your Social Media Content!