In a perfect world, all of our businesses would enjoy fat margins with plenty left over to spend on marketing, but the reality for most small- to mid-sized businesses is quite different. And because it’s often assumed that marketing is expensive, many companies with limited budgets simply don’t do it.
With limited marketing budgets, it’s no surprise that so many companies struggle to generate new business: 65% of firms say generating traffic and leads is their biggest marketing challenge (Hubspot). Here, we’ve compiled five ways you can meet the challenge of growing your B2B business on a shoestring budget of just $652 a month.
#1 – Get inside your customers’ heads (market research)
Market research is the best marketing investment a growing business can make, period. The more insight you have into not only who your target markets are but what they’re thinking, the more effective your marketing and sales efforts will be. This is especially crucial on a limited marketing budget, when you literally can’t afford to be just somewhat accurate when choosing your messages and methods of communication.
But how can you conduct marketing research without spending tens of thousands of dollars with a market research firm or tying up your employees’ time trying to interview customers? By combining two inexpensive resources: Mailchimp and LinkedIn.
$32/month gets you a single-user Mailchimp account to create your survey. Next, you need participants. Your customers are a good start: you’re already in touch with them on a regular basis. But you don’t just want the opinions of the people who’ve already bought into your value, you want to understand those who haven’t yet, because the whole point is to get more of them.
LinkedIn to the rescue! LinkedIn offers two different opportunities for you to collect survey responses from your target market, one free and one paid:
– Free: Post survey invitation and link to Groups containing your target market
– Paid: Sponsor your survey invitation post for a set daily or monthly budget (min is $10/day)
Start with the free option and see how many responses you get. If you’re not getting the volume you need, consider sponsoring your post. A sponsored post allows you to target your audience right down to the company; you can also upload your existing customer list to target a “lookalike” audience, to make things even easier. As you might imagine, the paid option is going to get you more responses faster, and may even be necessary depending on your target audience.
The broader it is, the more people fit the criteria, the easier it’ll be to collect responses. At a $10/day ad budget (the minimum) running for a month, you’ll add the equivalent of $17 a month spread over a year.
Don’t be intimidated thinking you need hundreds of responses, either. Yes, a statistically significant sample size is necessary if you’re going to publish your research, but for our purposes, even 30-50 responses will provide you with actionable insights.
#2 – Expand your reach with partnerships
Everyone needs a helping hand now and then, so reach out to other businesses to see how you can help each other. Generate a list of companies who are also suppliers to your customer base (not your competitors, obviously) and contact them to see how you might work together.
For starters, you might exchange customer lists, giving you access to contact information for highly qualified prospects for use in your email marketing campaigns (see #3) and sales team outreach.
Beyond simply sharing existing customer contact info, you can explore other opportunities for cross-promotion or marketing cost sharing, such as shared trade show booths or ad space.
Informal partnerships are a great opportunity for small businesses to leverage each other’s resources and grow their businesses faster than they would on their own.
#3 – Generate more leads with email
Email is the third most influential source of information for B2B audiences, behind only colleague recommendations and industry-specific thought leaders (Wordstream). In fact, the 2018 average return on investment was $38 in revenue for every $1 spent on email marketing (SocialMediaToday).
Of course, simply blasting out emails to a purchased list isn’t going to get you anywhere, you need a targeted list and personalized, relevant content (good thing you did all that market research earlier, eh?) For help, take a look at our curated lists of the best list building and email content best practices.
Now, it’s true you don’t need an email marketing platform like Constant Contact or Campaigner to send emails, but you’ll be a lot more effective if you use one. Here’s why it’s worth the investment:
#4 – Optimize your website for mobile
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know how important your website is to your sales. But did you know that if your website doesn’t perform well on a mobile device (phone or tablet), you could actually be losing sales? You read that right! Consider these statistics:
Perhaps most concerning statistic is the fact that despite all this, only 42% of companies have a mobile-optimized website (B2BMarketingZone, 2018). You can visit Google’s search console for a quick check to see if your website is mobile-optimized. If so, congratulations! You’re halfway there. Now you should take a good hard look at your site (or heck, ask your customers for feedback) to make sure you’re following best practices for design, navigation, and content, since 37% of people will leave a website because of poor design or navigation (MarketingProfs, 2015).
Now you know what’s wrong with your site, but how on earth do you fix it? The good news is that, unless your website was built on a completely customized platform, there are almost certainly scores of talented freelancers well-versed in your content management system (WordPress, Wix, etc.) who can help bring your site into 2019.
#5 – Build brand awareness and generate leads with social media
Say it with me: social media reaches B2B decision-makers. B2B executives have fought social advertising for years, but the facts can no longer be denied: 55% of B2B buyers say they look for information on social media, and 84% of C-level and VP-level buyers are influenced by social media when purchasing (IDG). For B2B executives, social media is an essential research tool because it gives them the social proof (i.e. testimonials and reviews) they need to make important big-ticket purchases.
But surely we can’t afford to advertise on such a paltry budget, right? Here’s where social media gets so powerful for B2B: in addition to social proof, social media advertising offers B2B marketers the ability to specify the audience to whom your ads will be shown down to the individual company.
This way, you’re not paying for hundreds of people who aren’t potential customers to see your ads, reducing the amount of budget you need.
LinkedIn’s minimum daily ad budget is $10, which may be sufficient depending on how niche your business is. For most companies, a budget of $25 a day is a good place to start, allowing you to put your brand, product or service, or even a specific salesperson in front of thousands of potential customers each month. It’s a great way to generate new leads, increase followers on social networks, and increase awareness of your brand. What’s more, you can use several different ads in the same campaign and track the results, which lets you test out your messaging to see what resonates the most with your customers.
Let us know a bit about yourself, your business, and the kind of marketing support you need, and we’ll be in touch.