I think my approach to business has generally been pretty frugal. I usually look at alternative options and cheaper ways to do things before I commit to putting any money down. As a fairly new business with not heaps of cash (yet!), I think that for the most part, this approach has worked well.
I’ve seen so many entrepreneurs invest beyond their means into programs, software, and marketing that didn’t pay off. This isn’t a problem limited to start-ups and small business owners – entrepreneurs at any level are prone to wasting their time and money.
But I’ve also seen some people get great returns on a seemingly expensive investment. And I DO see a lot of value in paying for some things in your business, especially when you lack the time, skills, or expertise to do it yourself, or you come across some tools or training that will either add more sales, profitability, or free up your time.
When it comes to marketing your business, there is a HUGE price range and plenty of options these days. Not only do business owners have to consider what’s within their budget, but they also need to understand a reasonable ROI expectation and know what is most likely to work. So there are a lot of elements to deciding on where to spend your money in marketing.
The good news is that a lot of what’s working really well in marketing right now is something you can do in-house for free (costs little more than you or your staff’s hours). So it IS possible to be frugal and successful, as long as you have the time to invest.
The key benefits of frugal marketing are:
- Less risk to your business
- Might force you to do things more creatively
- Will drive you to platforms that are more relationship focused and less about blasting your message to the masses
- Will force you to learn new things and expand your skillset
The disadvantages of frugal marketing are:
- You might miss an awesome opportunity by getting caught up in the numbers
- It might keep you small for longer
- It can take up significantly more of your time to get the same result as paying for extra help, tools, or pricier marketing campaigns
So, what are some frugal marketing techniques?
You can use social media for free, if you want to. These days, the best results come from putting at least a little bit into paid ad campaigns. This still works out to be a lot more cost effective than most other marketing platforms and can be easily scalable to fit any budget. Frugal business win!
Blogging on your own website is free if you’ve already paid for the website. It also represents an excellent investment in your business, as this blog content will be available for potential customers/clients to read indefinitely, until you decide to take it down. The main investment you’ll need to make is a lot of time, as a good blog post can take anywhere from an hour to days to create.
Depending on the size of your database, you can set up and implement email marketing for free with some providers, like Mailchimp. For larger databases, this still represents an extremely cost effective way to market to your audience. Some platforms are a lot more expensive than others (and their features may or may not be justified for the price), so do your research. I personally like Active Campaign for competitive pricing and plenty of features. Once again, the main investment in this marketing tactic is time spent setting the platform up and writing your emails.
Word of Mouth
There’s nothing as effective as word of mouth, and it’s often FREE! The best way to get more word of mouth is to simply be the best at what you do. The next best thing is to encourage your customers to leave you reviews and testimonials on any available platforms. This social proof can be very powerful for a potential customer who is about to decide which business to purchase from.
Press coverage is another frugal marketing tactic that can be so powerful! If you have a story and you know the perfect audience for it, match it up with the appropriate media. Contact a journalist from that media source and pitch your story to them. It will take a little time, but has the potential to increase your profile and reach more people for free.
I’d love to know your thoughts on frugal marketing. What have you been frugal with in your business and marketing? And what have you splurged or invested significantly in? Let me know what’s worked for you!