Many small businesses don’t really have time to think about marketing.
Most leads are generated through word of mouth. The small business works hard and slowly builds up a stable of clients. Those clients are the main source of new business.
It’s a process that works, but if that small business ever wants more they have to look at different ways to get marketing leads.
Marketing Leads On A Small Budget
Word of mouth referrals are a byproduct or great products and great service.
When your clients are happy with what you provide they tell others. You can help a little bit to encourage the referrals, but for the most part it’s out of your control in terms of marketing.
Referrals are simply a part of the business model. They’re an extension of loyalty. You can do things to encourage it, but it will happen if you do a great job.
For the businesses that want to invest in marketing to get more than word of mouth business there are many options. But since many small businesses have small marketing budgets it makes the list of options smaller.
These companies look at marketing activities that may have a small monetary investment while having larger time investments.
So the investment and return ont hat investment becomes more about time that’s put in more than the money that’s put in.
There are a few examples of businesses that have succeeded recently with very little marketing funds while investing heavily in time and effort to get large monetary returns.
SEOmoz is one of the most transparent companies around today. They are a big time SEO software firm and it appears they’re looking way beyond SEO to take their brand of business to other areas.
I loved their post from earlier this year that recapped their financials from 2012.
The quote that gives hope to all small businesses with a small marketing budget is this:
Not a believer in inbound marketing? If this data doesn’t convince you, nothing will. The incredibly low percent of costs that go to attracting traffic and acquiring customers (on the “marketing” line – remember that SEOmoz has no sales team or costs) are a testament to SEOmoz drinking our own Kool-Aid, and investing in sources like content, organic search, social media, email, CRO, and word-of-mouth to spread our brand. It means we can invest much more in research, product, and data.
You can see that Marketing on their expenses for the year was 4% in 2011. The total dollars spent increased in 2012, but the spend on Marketing dropped to 3%.
In percentages, that’s a pretty small marketing budget.
Rand started the SEOmoz blog I think around 2004. The success of the blog is easy to see now, but it took years to get to this point.
Rand is a strong believer in content and social media because he has seen first hand the power it has to bring in new business.
Copyblogger is now the second biggest WordPress business after the company that operate WordPress. Copyblogger does all kinds of things including themes, hosting and other services.
It started as a simple blog that helped people become better writers. It morphed into online publishing, which it still does today. Anyone that publishes online has likely read an article on Copyblogger.
So this now multi-million dollar a year company started with a simple blog that according to the website had a total investment of $1,000 (and a lot of time and effort).
It’s a great story of success, but also a story of how modern marketing can benefit small businesses with small budgets that need marketing leads.
Content Marketing & Social Media
This whole content marketing thing is really about the sales process. It’s early stage sales discovery where people discover a brand through content. The content has a few different areas of focus.
The first is to talk about the things the target client is asking online. This could be on search engines, social media and other online places.
That discovery is the very first association between a business and the client.
From there the content works to answer questions or objections. It’s really about the content turning into the salesperson for your business, but your content and your website are always working. It’s a 24/7 salesperson that can answer questions from anyone anywhere in the world.
As the target client reads through this content they realize that your business can solve a pain or need they are having and since they trust you as a result of all the information you’ve shared with them they hire you.
That’s how modern marketing works. It’s uses content and social media to make the connection, nurture the relationship and eventually to sell the client on your services.
If your target client is using the Internet and social media you have an opportunity to generate marketing leads with content. Your budget can be very small, but you will have take time to perform research, writing, formatting and promotion.
Money can make the process happen a little faster, but it simply takes time to generate a reputation as a brand that shares important information.
But as you develop that reputation you’ll start getting more leads. Those leads will turn into more leads and over time your business will have this huge new source of new clients.
At that point you’re in the same position as SEOmoz and Copyblogger.
And it will all have started with a small budget.