Note: The following post originally appeared on the Marketing for Entrepreneurs website.
Thank you to Iain Hamilton for this very useful content.
Struggling business owners will spend time to save money, whereas successful business owners will spend money to save time. Why is that an important distinction? Because you can always get more money, but you can never get more time. So you need to ensure the stuff you spend your time on makes the biggest impact. There is no disgrace in struggling, but once we have the option, we try to avoid it!
As with many things in life, In business, you have a choice. Do I start my business with money or without? Or perhaps circumstances don’t even give you the choice.
You might already have some money. It will may have come from on or more of several several places:
- Revenue from existing business
If this is the case, while you probably want to be careful with your spending, you maybe happy to spend money if expect a return on your investment.
If you are starting with nothing, it is not a good idea to ignore marketing altogether. After all, how are customers going to find you? Are they going to know you even exist?
Free Marketing Resources for those who have nothing to spend or do not want spend what they have
Product management is the process of deciding whether a product is worth offering and it is, getting it to market.
Your Value Proposition
The value proposition is an important consideration. Does anyone want your offering? Why would they want it? Please have a look at this free worksheet. Perhaps it will help you to decide whether and how to market your offering.
Create (and stick to) a simple marketing plan
Sometimes a marketing plan is large document produced by a specialist. This is fine if you have the money to pay the specialist to produce it for you, and if you or your team have time to read it. (You may not have a team at this stage). All you really need is to:
- Identify what you’re selling
- Identify who you are selling it to too
- Say why they will buy it
- Decide how you are going to get the message to them (so they will know you and your offering exist)
- Decide how you will get them to buy your offering
- Decide how to keep them happy so they will buy more or tell others about how good it is.
This will probably be an iterative process. That’s one of the reasons you should do it yourself rather than pay someone else to.
The first thing to say is LinkedIn is the place for B2B and corporate networking. At the time of writing there are over 600 Million users, that is something like one in three of professionals world-wide. The chances are some of them will be interested in your product or service.
Your LinkedIn profile is your shop window. Whatever you want to achieve on LinkedIn, your profile is the single most important asset. And it’s free. Here is my guide. There are lots of opinions about what to say and in your profile and how to say it. If you have time you could try a google search or just look at other people’s profiles on LinkedIn and see what you like.
There are lots of Groups on Linkedin. Just do a search, there are probably several that cover your area of interest. See how many members they have. Some are easy to join and some you have apply to. It is well-worth joining a few. You can be involved in the conversations, meet people and demonstrate your knowledge of the area. Or learn something new. You may even be able to tell people about your wares, but beware, some groups. don’t like you doing that. Have a look at the group’s rules.
Linkedin Company Page
If you have a company, why not set up a company page? Again it is free and encouraged by LinkedIn and not difficult to set up. It means that your company logo is displayed on your profile. Anyone clicking it will be first taken to the company and from there they can click through to your website (if you have one).
The company page is one more place you can post content. You can invite your connections (100 per month at the time of writing) to follow the company page. Followers will be served the content.
Other Social Media
Do not forget other social media platforms. They all have niches, rules, and can be used to get your message out. Where are the prospective customers you want to reach?
List on directories
There are lots of directories out there. Some are multi-national, some national and some local. Some cover offerings for consumers and businesses. Some specialise in particular lines of business or products. Have a look what is relevant to your offering and your prospective customers. Then sign up if it is free. Yell, Google and B2Bgig all offer free or trial listings. You may get leads through directories, but even if you don’t listing will help your exposure and you SEO ranking.
Use tasks or reminders to remind you to follow up.
If you have a computer (and I’ll assume you do. I know that isn’t free, but the function I describe is, because there is no incremental cost….) it will probably have calendar, reminder/task and note functions. Why not use these to remind you to return a phone call or trigger some other activity you may forget otherwise.
Or free Customer Management Systems
Professional sales teams use CRMs. What they bring over reminders etc is the ability to share information across the team. Many offer a free tier. I may be worth using one.
Discipline and time
This is important! Even if you can do some effective marketing and business development without spending money, you need to invest time!