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If you’re a small business, your marketing budget may be a sliver compared to your other departments. It can be hard enough to keep a business open during tough economic times, let alone feel comfortable pouring cash into marketing campaigns.
In this post, part of our series on 8 Ways To Innovate Your Business, we’re talking about how innovation in the marketing department can help create a buzz for your products or services.
Can you develop great marketing campaigns while on a shoestring budget? The answer is yes – and it all comes down to innovative marketing strategies.
What is innovative marketing?
Marketing is all about communicating your products and services to your customers. After all, if they don’t know about what you can do, how will they get interested in your services?
Innovative marketing is a way to generate new ideas plus boost the appeal of your product or service. Being innovative with marketing helps your business to:
- Keep up with the rapidly changing business world;
- Use new technologies to your advantage;
- Explore new markets; and,
- Increase sales and profitability.
7 simple techniques to innovate your marketing
Part of being innovative with your marketing is to maximize your dollars. It may be a tough sell to your partners or your investors to invest very much cash into advertising, but it’s not a part of your business you want to overlook, either.
Try applying some of these techniques to get the most from your marketing dollars:
1. Do market research
How will you know what your potential customers prefer if you don’t see things from their perspective? Doing so will teach you what your customers want plus help you understand new behaviours and trends.
Since we’re all about maximising marketing dollars – you don’t have to invest heavily on focus groups or customer surveys, either. These can be costly and there are cheaper alternatives. One such way is to simply observe your customers’ behaviour. Your own customers can provide you with a wealth of information – you only have to be on the lookout.
You can also get in touch with other companies in your industry and solicit services like a customer would to get a better perspective on the customer journey.
Lastly, you can use research done by others. Some businesses may post their corporate reports to their websites that offer valuable insight into your customers. You can also try the academic route or find reports published by national institutes. There’s lots of information available on the web – you just have to do some research specific to your industry.
2. Price your products uniquely and smartly
Product pricing is one of the fundamental parts of marketing strategies. It’s also something that many companies get wrong. Often, prices are set according to internal value or are tied to the margins involved in production.
However, your pricing strategy is actually one of the most important ways you can market your products or services because prices impact customer decisions in a big way.
For example, the first thing you probably check out while shopping for clothes is the price tag. Your customers are the same. Based on a single figure, they may decide to walk away. That’s why it’s important to both set appropriate prices and create a great shopping experience for your customers before hitting them with the price.
There are also innovative pricing options to try out. You can differentiate your products or services with basic and premium offerings. This strategy works great because it can set expectations. Giving pricing options for your services also lets you capture different customer segments – those who may be attracted (or repulsed) by different price tiers.
3. Use unconventional product promotion
There are plenty of budget-friendly marketing strategies. Some are unconventional and may surprise your customers in a good way. For inspiration, check out some examples of exciting product promotions here. These include ads both physical and online that balance the line between being engaging, shocking and attractive.
Sometimes unconventional promotion is considered guerilla marketing. It can involve taking out innovative ads to post in your neighbourhood or even handing out simple flyers to help draw attention to your services. Here, the key is to balance being innovative without relying on gimmicks, which may detract from the effectiveness of your marketing attempts. Also, be sure to follow proper business etiquette and local bylaws.
4. Spread the word with word of mouth
Try encouraging your customers to promote your products for you. But remember – only happy and satisfied customers will promote your products. That’s why it’s important to put the customer first and exceed their expectations. Doing so will build loyal customers who are happy to recommend your services to others.
To encourage customer referrals, try mapping out your customer’s journey. You’ll notice there are many instances where your business interacts with them. There may be a cold call, a sales call, a website visit, a Q&A document, the shopping cart experience and the product delivery experience.
At all those stages, think carefully about how you can promote word of mouth behaviour and referrals from your customers. A simple tactic is to package referral coupons upon final delivery of your product or service.
5. Social media marketing
Social media marketing isn’t particularly new anymore. But it’s still growing and not too late to get on board. Social media is a hugely engaging platform. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, you should utilize technology to your full advantage in your marketing strategies.
Social media platforms provide you the ultimate access to customers and their friend networks. You can target specific markets and demographics through social media advertising, as well as build powerful brand loyalty and trust with your customers.
6. Expand to new markets
Sometimes, the market in which you operate is saturated and highly competitive.
However, by looking outside of your marketing bubble, new markets can offer low competition and can yield great new paying customers. This is the time to leverage social media and other technology platforms to access new markets. Social media can be the perfect companion to help you break into new markets and clients that you may not know exist. The best part is that it can be done cheaply and on budget.
7. Focus on your brand.
Remember from an earlier post in this series when we talked about your unique value offering? If you haven’t read it, check it out here.
Your unique approach to offering value to your clients is part of building your brand. In marketing, your brand impacts how you build trust and is normally one of the first things that gives your customers an impression of your business. You better be sure it’s a positive one!
To maximise your marketing dollar, always keep your brand in constant focus. It’s what tells your customers who you are in a consistent way and shows to your customers that your business has a personality and can be trusted. Whether in your brochures, social media, e-mail or ad campaigns, your brand is a powerful part of your marketing success.
Don’t let your marketing strategy collect dust
Keep these tips in mind whenever you need to boost your marketing impact even on a shoestring budget.
Once you’ve put some thought into integrating these marketing tips, check out the next post in our series on 8 Ways to Innovate Your Business, which is all about how to discover and maximise the impact of new technologies.