When you’re on a tight budget, it can be tempting to put off things such as marketing until more stable times. But cutting costs unwisely can only make your situation worse. The fact is that your business needs marketing to continue making money.

If you stop promoting your business, you run the risk of bringing in few or no new customers and losing those relationships you’ve already formed. That doesn’t mean you should continue throwing money at every possible marketing activity out there, but it does mean that you need to find a healthy and sustainable way to continue marketing on an achievable budget.

To contain costs, first invest in strategy. Many businesses run into trouble when it comes to marketing because they’re trying to do many good things, but those things aren’t the right fit for their customers and the investment is wasted.

The right marketing technique, tool or channel is all of them. Everything works for somebody. But you can’t afford to put money into every marketing approach out there. Get results by understanding your customers. Who are they? What do they care about? What do they need? How can you give them what they want?

A detailed understanding of your customer is fundamental to all good marketing. It informs what channels you use to promote your business, how you brand yourself and communicate, and what tools or techniques you use.

Local small businesses like computer or laptop repair service, plumbing service, estate agency etc tend to get a better return on investment by sponsoring community festivals, attending local events or partnering with other local businesses to reach each other’s customers. Others business types benefit very little from this approach, and generally do better with an online-first model.

Online, your customers might be frequent Pinterest users, or active on specific Facebook groups that you can join. Knowing your customers helps you reach them where they’re at, so you can promote your business specifically to the people who are more likely to become customers.

Some promotional tools and techniques are incredibly expensive, while others may surprise you with how affordable they are. You’re going to drain your budget quickly and to disappointing effect if you try to promote with lots of magazine or national newspaper ads. On the other hand, a great web presence will cost you some time and money but can be incredibly valuable if you target it right.

Get a free boost on many social media platforms by creating and sharing video content. Explainer video software is a great way to make short, polished content that engages your customers and potential customers, and it’s surprisingly accessible. You don’t need specialized equipment or skills to quickly create content that entertains, informs, inspires and motivates your audience and helps promote your business.

If you’re looking for inexpensive ways to promote your business, start by understanding your customers. Let them inform where and how you promote. In general, focusing efforts online and specifically targeted to customers will get you a better return on investment, and video content will get better mileage than other formats.

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