For starters, what exactly is a shoestring budget? According to legends (or Google, whichever sounds more intriguing to you) the phrase shoestring budget is English and harkens to a time when prisoners used to dangle their shoes out the window by their shoestrings, in hopes that passersby would drop some money inside.
Now if that sounds like about the amount of money you currently have earmarked for your marketing budget, you’re in luck, because we are going to show you how to create awareness, increase sales, build your brand or promote an event, on a shoestring budget!
For starters, everyone has the same three things to work with when it comes to marketing, advertising, branding, or promoting and event.
Those three things are:
People do business with people, and they do business with people they like, and trust. The more people that like you and trust you, the more business you can generate, and in order for people to get to like you, they have to get to know you.
So network. Check out events that have the potential of drawing the types of individuals who might be your clients or collaborators, and be genuine! Don’t just share about your business, because after all, you are there to create relationships. And either that day or even years down the road, business will come out of the relationships you have fostered.
“A penny saved, is a penny earned.” Words that were never truer when it comes to your small business!
Now that may seem like common sense, but what we’re talking about is intentionally looking for little pockets of money that you can save and compile together for marketing.
That means being a little bit of a sleuth, and making sure that you allocate the saved funds toward your marketing goals.
If you’re holding a frying pan, and someone else is holding an egg, why don’t you do a trade? Trade a little of what you do best in exchange for exposure! Also bartering is a great way to build relationships, and get your name out there. You can even do partial trades, where a percentage is in cash and the other in good/services.
This is a great way to introduce yourself to businesses that might otherwise not consider your services, get in front of a new audience, and give back to your community.
Wait to Take a Salary
Prior to taking a salary, it’s suggested that your company:
- Has sustainable revenue
- Revenue is projected to remain steady
- Is in the black?
There’s other factors to consider, including how much of a salary you should take, when you do. It’s often recommended that your salary should be no more than 50% of the profits. This way, you can take the other 50% and reinvest it back into your business! The funds you are able to save can then be directed into your marketing budget and other improvements.
Avoid Paying for an Office
Most of us have seen those grainy photographs of Apple’s first office (a modest house with a two-car garage) and Amazon’s original logo tagged on a banner with spray paint. The same should apply to you!
Having a storefront or office is a big expense for any business, and one that you should avoid as long as possible. Instead, take the funds you would spend on an office, and invest it in your marketing!
We’re all familiar with the concept of job sharing, but implementing this in your company can save you a lot of money when it comes to payroll, and those savings could be redirected to your marketing efforts!
As the saying goes, “You do what you have to do, so you don’t have to do it forever.”
This is another way to save money, when you are invested in the growth of your company. Think about the services that you are hiring out for (janitorial, re-painting the office) and consider doing them yourself, or as a team. Little savings can add up in big ways!
Partnering with others has many benefits, including greater visibility, exposure, contact sharing, cross promotion, and of course, cost sharing! Look for partnerships with individuals or organizations who compliment your own, and don’t be afraid to reach out! Mutually beneficial arrangements are responsible for some of the world’s greatest inventions and collaborations.
Train one, Teach Many
One well-trained employee can propagate literally hundreds of other well-trained personnel members, so don’t underestimate the power of training often, and regularly! You are investing in more than just your employee, you are saving potentially hundreds of man hours over the course of your business!
That’s right, FREE! There are many ways that you can use social media and other platforms in a way that’s engaging, impactful, and that can really boost the bottom line of your business. Look for others to podswap with, volunteer as a guest speaker, engage on social media and share. Find someone who is influential in your space, and engage with them, and remember to be a go-giver whenever you can!
Ask, and Thanks
Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals, and don’t hesitate to thank people for them either. Word of mouth marketing has never been more powerful than it is today, and your network is your pipeline! If you give your fans and current customers the tools they need to make great referrals, you will reap some big rewards.
Recommendations, Ratings, Reviews, Rewards
Here’s the rest of our favorite R’s in business. We’ve talked about referrals, but don’t forget about recommendations, ratings, reviews, and rewards too. This is a give, get, and grateful kind of system too, so give and ask generously for both!
Give, Give, and then Give some more
Have we mentioned rewards, and giving yet? Yes we have, and there’s a reason for that! When you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, it pays to have an abundance mindset. And that means it pays to be generous! While that may seem counter-intuitive, it actually pays for itself and more over the long term in referrals, recommendations, exposure, customer loyalty and more.
Look for Hiring Alternatives
We live in a gig economy, and that can be a good thing! Look for alternatives to long-term hiring like paying contractors or even utilizing talented interns, or part-time help for those short-term or big projects that just need a little extra help.
Free Business Building Resources
Your community, and even your government wants you to succeed! That means that there are tons of free, reputable resources out there for business owners, who can help with everything from financing, to marketing, to just venting. Look for small business resource centers, workshops, mentorship programs and more in your area.
Happy Employees, Happy Customers
When you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of your customers. When you empower them to make decisions and take action, you create a sense of ownership that will translate into benefits for every area of your business. It’s not just good humaning, it’s good business!
Cut Costs, Not Corners
Cutting corners is great (if you’re a loaf of bread)!
If you aren’t, we recommend that you never cut corners in your attempts to cut costs. The quality of your work is your reputation, and your future. A business thrives or dies on the quality of the product or service that you deliver, and no amount of cost savings will ever be worth the reputation of your business.
So there you have it, all the tips, tricks and hacks that you can deploy to grow your business and brand on a shoestring budget!
Feeling overwhelmed? Need a little more guidance or help?
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