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No matter what sort of business an entrepreneur starts, finances are always always a major issue at the beginning. The budget is tight and every single purchase made takes planning and strategy to make sure it is worth the money being put into it. Trying to balance where the money goes can be difficult when so many areas seem to need attention. For example, generating leads with a limited marketing budget. How is the best way to do so when money is tight and you still need to attract clientele?
Join a service or networking club
Join a service club or networking club (like a meetup.com group) and offer to present on areas of your expertise on topics of interest to the attendees. If presenting to a networking club, you can frequently find clubs that are specifically for your target market. – Establish your expert status online. Find blogs and establish rapport with the blogger for guest blogging opportunities such as writing a post, doing a guest interview, or presenting a podcast or video. – Share a discount with a blogger's audience or a free product or service for the blogger to get additional exposure. This works best when the blogger's audience is your target market but you don't compete with the blogger. Bad idea: you are a financial planner and you approach another financial planner.
Thanks to Wanda Anglin, SEO Buzz Internet Marketing
Related Post: How to Use Email Marketing
Get a little more creative
As CEO of the startup TeliApp, a company devoted to engaging the smartphone revolution and innovating new ways to use mobile devices, I find myself facing many hurdles, especially when it comes to marketing. Many startup companies like TeliApp simply don’t have the capital necessary to purchase qualified marketing lists in order to create leads, so we have to get a little more creative. Instead, we hire commission-only sales representatives and train them well. We choose for them target markets that they have experience in. A podiatrist turned sales-pro, for example, is the perfect bridge into the healthcare industry. She knows the trade, the lingo. She subscribes to the right magazines. She knows all the best trade shows. She knows the industry’s major organizations which usually publish free lists of all their members. At that point, we don’t rely on leads. We generate leads by actively seeking them out and, in the process, become even more devoted to our services and what we do.
Thanks to Joshua Weiss, TeliApp
Go to networking events and make connections
With a limited marketing budget, you may not be able to pay for ads and SEO, but you can still go to industry events and network with individuals or companies who can directly benefit from your product / service or has a client base that could benefit. Provide great service and ask your customers for a referral. Another approach is to incentivize your current customers to refer their friends. You can even host a small giveaway on multiple social media networks. You don't have to give away iPads but a low-cost prize tailored to your audience can work just as effectively.
Thanks to Jonathan Passley, PDR Web Solutions
Adopt some digital methods
Getting leads is a two-pronged problem: 1. How do you maximize value and minimize spend? 2. Which activities generate the highest quality leads for the least amount of money? Recently, we asked Forrester Consulting to survey small and mid-sized businesses to determine how they had adjusted marketing strategies during the downturn, and how that was working out for them. It turns out that the top five tactics SMBs use are expensive and difficult to scale: networking; tradeshows; in-person events; content marketing; and print advertising. My advice for a company with limited lead generation budget is to adopt some of the digital methods that enterprise companies use, such as webinars and email. The cost is lower, they're scalable and repeatable, and they work. The DMA puts email marketing's ROI for 2011 at $40.56 for every $1 invested. Nothing else comes close. At the same time, don't neglect social. Diversify your channels and use social to drive people to your email lists; use a holistic approach to generating leads. As for which activities generate the highest number of quality leads… that will vary according to your customers and your company. Track and measure your efforts and results, and let the numbers tell you the story.
Thanks to Atri Chatterjee, Act-On
Related Post: How to Effectively Network Online
Use Google AdWords
With a small budget, one of the best ways to start generating some leads is by using Google AdWords. Google often sends out $100 worth of AdWords credits to help businesses get started with generating leads through bidding on relevant keywords that show users ads when those keywords (or possibly similar ones) are typed into the search engine. Sometimes you can find these Adwords credits on the inserts of some tech magazines. You may say to yourself, “What’s $100?” But a $100 can go a long way if you can structure your CPC ads to pay the least possible cost per click. First of all, in Adwords, part of how much you pay (or rather how high your ad appears) is based on your completion and on your quality score, which is based partially on your click-though rate, the relevancy of your landing page to your ad and to your keyword. So to get less competition, choose lots of long tail keywords (those highly specific, infrequently searched phrases like “10 inch blue widgets for widgeting in the morning”) instead of broad keywords (like “widgets”). Since long tail phrases have less competition, they’ll tend to have lower costs per click. Additionally, since people making long-tail searches tend to be much further along in the buying cycle, long-tail searchers can serve as much better leads. To get a good quality score, make sure your keywords are relevant to your ads, and that your landing page is relevant to both of them (already contains those keywords). This way, with the $100 that Google provides to jumpstart your marketing, AdWords is one of the best ways to generate free leads for your business on a tight budget. Once you use up the $100, hopefully you’ll be an expert in finding non-competitive long-tail relevant keywords and in creating ultra relevant ads and landing pages, so that even when you have to pay out of pocket for the your Adwords leads, you will still be able to do it on a tight budget.
Thanks to Ian Aronovich, GovernmentAuctions
Face-to-face time in the local communities
Although I'm a HUGE proponent of the internet and social marketing online, the best way to generate leads on a limited marketing budget is still the face-to-face networking that takes place in all local communities. Social media and the internet are great, I love it and use it daily. But every digital relationship starts with a person on one end of a keyboard speaking to another person on the opposite end at their keyboard. Face-to-face, in person networking can not be swept aside in this pervasive communication culture we find ourselves surrounded by daily. Networking, speaking engagements and one-to-one communication in person and on the phone will build business quickly and give a business owner a foundation to launch and support their social media efforts.
Thanks to Kalynn Amadio, ikalynn
Generating leads on a limited budget is every startup/small business' dilemma. With social media, “content strategies” and all the other “free” opportunities out there, people are constantly trying to figure out how to best spend their time. One thing that we learned early on was that good old-fashioned PR worked and worked well. Whether it was a big news story or a very specific industry blog, PR helped spread the word when we couldn't spend the money to. It sounds trite, but letting others tell your story is very effective. PR is neither free or easy, but if you spend time cultivating relationships and getting people to write about you, it can do wonders to lift your marketing off the ground.
Thanks to Chris Lucas, Formstack
Wholesale tradeshows are good for connecting
We generate leads by exhibiting at wholesale tradeshows where our products can be experienced firsthand by buyers, manufacturer's representatives, industry press, bloggers, influencers, international distributors and trade guests. Branded under the name Clipa, our products are very high quality, tested in independent labs and made in the USA. Shows are a great way for people to try them out for themselves while getting the details in a fun environment. We find that doing industry shows builds excitement during the event that generates leads–sometimes up a year afterwards–that we just can't get any other way.
Thanks to Mike Sweeney, Topcor
Related Post: Best Marketing Tips from Entrepreneurs
The original idea for our company (now called SpareFoot), was a person-to-person platform where people leased out extra space in their homes for storage. When we were first getting started we had no money so we just had to look for places where people would post that they had or were looking for storage. Craigslist had a parking/storage section so we started advertising there. For the next year or so it became a pretty good source of traffic for the business.
Thanks to Mario Feghali, SpareFoot
Article marketing is the best way to market on a limited budget. Write articles directed to your niche. Place them on your blog and share them on social networking sites where your ideal clients hand out in masses. With a subscription box on your website, gather emails and create a newsletter using your articles. You can put your articles on your stationary and give them out at networking events. You can turn groups of articles into an ebook that you can give away, too.
Thanks to Maria Marsala, Elevating Your Business