Marketing on a budget

You don’t need to have a large marketing budget to get your new small business noticed. These three cost effective tips will get your business in front of people while you grow.

Find databases larger than yours

Building a database of supportive customers is one of the most effective ways to generate repeat business. When you’re first starting a business, you won’t have immediate access to a large database. This challenge may also be shared by established businesses who haven’t yet developed an email database.

Partnering with brands and organisations who share similar values and have a larger following than you can get your business in front of potential customers in a cost effective way.

Established brands regularly collaborate with other organisations to widen their relevance to a new demographic. Fashion Designer Lisa Gorman recently approached Melbourne Museum for her latest collection inspired by geology, opening the label to an audience outside of the Gorman’s immediate followers and also receiving significant press coverage.

Consider how your product can be relevant to a wider audience. If you create accessories, is there an opportunity to partner with a fashion label you admire? If you are in homewares, can you team up with a furniture maker or interiors designer to create an unusual product or new take on your own line? If you are an illustrator or create one off products, could there be a beautiful collaboration with a packaging or framing company who can create bespoke boxing or displays for your unique items? Beautiful things can be made when creative heads get together.

If you are a maker, you can also reach out to local event providers who are looking for workshop teachers to expose your brand to a wider audience. A few places to start include Work-Shop, an Australian wide enterprise that offers affordable short courses in life skills, Warehouse No.5, a co working and events space in the Gold Coast who host workshops on creating and designing beautiful things and Creative Mornings, a free monthly event featuring creatives and makers. These organisations are always looking for talented individuals like you to add value to their discerning community and are highly likely to have a large subscriber base to broadcast your support to.

Create memorable experiences for your customers

To make your business memorable, create an experience that gets customers talking.

Impress upon your customer just how much their purchase means to you as a business. If you have created an easy to use website and paired it with exceptional customer service, consider delivering an outstanding ‘unboxing’ experience.

Almost anything is available to buy online these days, but not all online shopping experiences are the same. A great unboxing experience demonstrates to customers the unique value only your brand can deliver.

Half the fun of online shopping is opening the parcel and touching and feeling the real product and sharing that experience with friends. Your customer won’t always be the only person in the room when opening the parcel. Creative packaging and boxing can also capture the attention of colleagues and friends who might be present for the unwrapping experience.

The added benefit of creating beautiful packaging is that happy customers will be more likely to document the experience, hopefully even sharing it online with friends and followers to demonstrate the joy your product has given them. Make it easy for your customers with a beautifully designed comp card or note which includes your social media tags and preferred hashtag.

Reallocating budget from other areas of the business for six months can help you test the response to the investment. Take notice of customer feedback and social media mentions during this time. Once you have a packaging solution that impresses, send a few samples to influential journalists who cover your industry, along with an info sheet on your product, where they can buy it from and a few snaps of happy customer posts from social media to demonstrate your customers value your point of difference.

Invest in quality imagery

One impactful way to grab attention is by investing in captivating imagery. Your marketing materials will need to do much of the work for you in those early days, before word of mouth starts generating new leads.

Beautiful images of your product helps your customers imagine instantly what it would be like to own your product. Think about all the brands you admire. Would you see an image on their Instagram, website or e-newsletter that didn’t make you want to buy the product?

Hire a professional photographer who can help you demonstrate what makes your product different. A good guideline is to start small, asking for images which show your product in two ways:

  1. Your product against a plain white background without any other items. This helps journalists or picture editors ‘cut’ out your product from the image so it can appear against a wider magazine spread if required.
  2. Your product in the environment for which it is intended (‘in situ’). This could be a model wearing something you have designed, an illustration framed on a wall or your beauty products styled in a beautiful bathroom. Ask your photographer to take a series of wide and close up images in context that look slightly different to each other to get more out of one location.

Another great way to inject personality into your images is … to have you in them! Customers are savvy and want to know how their product is made and where it has come from. Get in front of the camera and show your customers the face of the business.

This way, when the time is right to reach out to media for publicity on your business, you’ll be in a good position to capitalise on interest by providing high resolution images of both your product and the person behind the business instantly.

If your marketing collateral communicates the value that only our brand can deliver, differentiates it from competitors and inspires a potential customer to find you – the investment is absolutely worth it.

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