Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.
When it comes to marketing your business, money isn’t everything. While having a large budget can certainly have a big impact on your efforts, there are many marketing activities that cost very little to implement, and even more that don’t cost anything at all.
So for new or small businesses that have to operate on a shoestring budget, prioritizing the right marketing efforts can make all the difference. Below, a panel of Rolling Stone Culture Council experts share the areas of marketing they think are the most important to prioritize if you’re working with a tight budget and why those areas can give you the biggest bang for your buck.
A Professional Website
If you’re marketing your business on a shoestring budget, it’s important to prioritize a professionally designed website. Websites are the handshake of your brand, and you need to make a good impression. This means having a mobile-ready, user-friendly, search engine-optimized website that functions intuitively and is designed strategically. – Dan Serard, Cannabis Creative Group
A shoestring budget can be as complex but also as effective as one that has multiple zeros behind it. The power of community relations can be worth more than a multimillion-dollar campaign. Build local engagement by creating relationships with key organizations, becoming an education hub, implementing philanthropic programs and more. Liven up your social responsibility and become a steward of the community. – Mike Weinberger, Unity Rd.
When working on a shoestring budget, extend your marketing reach by making your content live many lives. Why? Because content that engages is king. Did you record a podcast that went viral? Take that one podcast and repurpose it into an infographic, a snackable Wavve file, a blog post, an instructographic and an Instagram Reel. By creating several formats, you extend the reach of your marketing dollars. – Courtney Caldwell, ShearShare, Inc.
If you have a killer app or product, spend your budget on trial use. Give people a taste of what you have. If you don’t have a product or service that truly stands head and shoulders above the crowd, consider using your marketing budget to reengineer. – Klee Irwin, Irwin Naturals Inc.
‘Win-Win-Win’ Collaborative Marketing
Look for “win-win-win” collaborative marketing scenarios, such that anything attached to the brand is good for the business, good for the consumer, good for the community. Put the limited marketing dollars into action with trusted partners so that the messaging is coming from multiple angles and ideally across multiple platforms. – Scotty Kober, San Francisco Youth Soccer
Search Engine Optimization
It’s integral to prioritize SEO in your marketing strategy. The reason is simple: SEO can be incredibly effective in driving traffic to your website and correspondingly increasing sales. Most small businesses don’t have the luxury of spending big bucks on advertising, so getting traffic from organic search results with a well-optimized website and regular high-quality content is essential. – Evan Nison, NisonCo
The one thing that should be a priority is customer contact. You have their information. They are your customer. Don’t hide behind gimmicks. Pick up the phone, call them and have something of interest to say. If they dont answer, leave a message. It’s really cheap and effective. – Michael Polk, Billboardology.com
Networking is most effective, as nothing matches the one-on-one or group connections. During the pandemic, I participated in many virtual groups in which I was the only PR person, expanding my network and driving new business while explaining the role it plays. Now that we’re live again, I’ve been to many in-person events and I’m happy they’re back. – Stu Zakim, Bridge Strategic Communications LLC
The No. 1 priority is having clear, cohesive messaging for your website, social media channels and personal social media so that relevant prospective customers and staff understand exactly who you are and what you offer, which will help drive opportunities. – Nicole Rodrigues, NRPR Group
As motivational speaker and salesman Zig Ziglar said: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” Therefore, demonstrating your domain expertise and sharing your knowledge is a tried-and-true strategy to help you attract the right prospects. While time consuming, this means developing unique content assets and thought leadership and sharing it on social or in third party media. – Harrison Wise, Wise Collective Inc.
So many companies dismiss the value of brand affinity. If you build a strong brand image — both aesthetically and by creating trust in your brand, which often requires PR — your short-term investments will bear long-term gains. – Amanda Dorenberg, COMMB
You can’t exist without digital content. It doesn’t need to be plentiful, but it needs to be powerful, on-brand and connect with your audience emotionally in order to be effective. – Cate Rubenstein