By Bryce Welker, a CPA and CEO of multiple companies, including Crush the EA Exam.
When “less is more” is applied to the marketing world, you get the concept of cost-effective marketing. Also known as frugal marketing, this approach is all about optimizing marketing strategies to achieve the greatest results while spending the least.
As a young entrepreneur, I started out with very little money to invest in marketing. This constraint forced me to think outside the box and get creative with my promotional efforts. Through this process, I discovered several cost-effective marketing strategies that provided a significant return on investment. I’d love to share what I’ve learned with you.
Cost-Effective Marketing: The Why
Young entrepreneurs typically face multiple challenges. The first major challenge is the financial restrictions that limit their options for extensive and costly marketing campaigns. Further, the modern marketplace is teeming with competitors. Young businesses often find gaining visibility amid this noise challenging, especially when competitors have larger budgets for elaborate marketing strategies.
When it works, the benefits of introducing a thrifty marketing plan include the following:
Competitive advantage: Using cheaper marketing tactics, small businesses can compete with larger corporations. Regarding visibility and reach, it somewhat levels the playing field and allows smaller entities to carve out their niche.
Greater ROI: With lower investment, the potential for a higher return on investment (ROI) increases.
Collaboration: Sometimes, budget-friendly marketing involves partnering with other businesses or influencers in mutually beneficial ways. The result is often an increase in your reach and the building of relationships within your industry.
In my experience, using cost-effective marketing strategies also allows you to shift more quickly in response to market trends or consumer behavior, as there’s less bureaucracy and financial risk involved in making changes. It can also be a more sustainable option since it often relies on digital or community-based channels.
Cost-Effective Marketing Strategies
No money? No problem. Let’s delve into some marketing strategies that are free or close to it!
1. Leveraging Social Media
The digital age offers numerous free platforms for marketing. Regularly updating your social media profiles and engaging with your audience can be a powerful and value-driven way to build your brand.
You can designate specific days of the week for unique content themes (i.e., “flashback Fridays”), use live streaming features like Instagram Live or Facebook Live to showcase behind-the-scenes action and use polls and surveys to engage your audience.
I love to share content specific to certain locations using geo-tags and encourage my partners to curate Instagram story highlights to create a journey for new followers. I also tend to include YouTube videos in a lot of the blog posts on my websites since I’ve found it will keep readers engaged and promote my partners at the same time.
2. Customer Testimonials And Reviews
Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews or testimonials. Positive reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp and Amazon (if applicable) can be invaluable for your brand’s credibility.
In times when I’ve had trouble getting customers to take the extra step and post the reviews themselves, I’ve asked for a testimonial or written review by email and then formatted it and posted it myself.
3. Community Involvement
Participate in local community events or charities in order to promote your brand. This can also help you make connections and establish a reputation for social responsibility—and identify new opportunities.
For example, a few years ago, I attended a conference for test prep companies. The conference was an eye-opener for me, primarily because I observed that most companies focused solely on direct online marketing and missed out on community involvement as a strategy.
Seeing this gap, I approached a few test prep companies and proposed a win-win affiliate partnership. We collaborated on local community events, such as student counseling sessions, prep material drives and free test-prep boot camps. My role was to use my affiliate marketing platform to promote these events online, increasing the reach and attendance, while the test prep companies provided the resources and expertise, and the results were phenomenal.
Other ways to get involved in your community include:
• Partner with local charities for events or drives.
• Join local festivals, fairs or parades.
• Offer to give guest lectures or sponsor school events.
• Organize or participate in community service days.
• Sponsor local sports teams and events.
4. Influencer Collaborations And Partnerships
Collaborating with micro-influencers in your niche can help increase visibility. Often, I’ve found these influencers will collaborate while trading for free products or services. This mutual exchange not only provides the influencer with valuable content for their audience but also offers the brand targeted exposure and potential customer conversions.
Personally, I have structured my entire business on partnership, working with others to improve my reach and also the social proof for my brand. When my partners win, I win. And when we struggle, we grow together.
The Power Of Value-Driven Marketing
As I reflect on my journey, I realize the true power of value-driven marketing. When I first stepped into the world of entrepreneurship, it was easy to feel dwarfed by big players with deep pockets. But every challenge, every budget constraint and every roadblock led me to innovate, be resourceful and truly understand the heart and soul of my audience.
Cost-effective marketing—or as some may say, “frugal marketing”—is more than just a strategy for those on a budget. It’s a mindset. It’s about genuinely connecting with your audience and understanding that every dollar you invest carries the weight of your dreams and aspirations.
To every young entrepreneur reading this: Remember, in the world of business, it’s not always about how much you spend, but how genuinely you connect. The real investment is in understanding, caring and delivering value to your audience.