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8 Tips to Turbo-Charge Your Marketing Without Spending a Bundle

Everyone knows that marketing and advertising have the power to increase awareness of your business, boost sales and create customer loyalty. If you don’t invest marketing dollars wisely, backed by a solid brand strategy, you can end up spending a lot with little ROI. Consider these free or low-cost tips for growing sales and building your brand by marketing smart.

1. Create a powerful and concise marketing strategy
Your marketing strategy should be the North Star of everything you do and every dollar you spend on marketing. It will help you decide what to invest in and what to pass on. It will improve your ability to talk about your business to others and explain why you’re different from than the competition. Here are five questions you want to answer when you put pen to paper.
- What are your objectives? For example, do you want to increase awareness, crack a new market or double sales?
- Who is your target? Define your target in as specific terms as possible. Not just demographically but psychographically. Where do they live and work? What do they read? How do they approach the purchase decision in your category? Be as specific as you can.
- What is your unique benefit? Your benefit should distinguish you from the competition and highlight the one or two main things your service or product does which is meaningful and important to your target. Think about how your brand fits into their lives, not just its specific features. Create a sentence that sums it up powerfully.
- What is your overall budget for marketing?
- Based on your objectives, target, benefit and budget which tactics will you employ to deliver your message? Do some research into the cost of the local options. Are there above-the-line media that target your market efficiently (i.e. radio, newspaper, posters) or is online media your best bet? Or maybe it’s a combination of both. Devise a media mix and determine your budgets for each over the next six months. Don’t overcommit to more than you need during this early time. See what works and optimize along the way.

2. Make your business easier to find online, for free
Register with Google Places, Yahoo Local and Microsoft’s Bing to allow your target to find your business more easily when they use online searches and search engine maps. It’s easy to set up and doesn’t cost a penny.

3. Work on your website
Every small business needs a great website. For one, it will increase your credibility with your target. In 2015 Versign conducted a study finding that 84% of consumers believe that small businesses with websites are more credible than ones without an online presence.

Make sure your site doesn’t look tired and out-of-date. It should powerfully reflect your brand’s personality and communicate that your approach is modern and customer-centric. Consider redesigning with a platform like Squarespace. They offer a variety of customizable, designer-created templates that make it easy to drag and drop images. You can even sell unlimited products and services from your site with end-to-end data security for you and your customers.

4. Be Social
Consider using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn profiles to gain exposure, cultivate your relationship with regular customers and offer promotions. Creating a social media presence doesn’t cost a dime and doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time in maintenance. You can build your audience from scratch or invest in an audience development platform like OneQube. Investigate what the competition is doing on these platforms and invent an online “persona” which is consistent with your brand’s marketing strategy and fits the particular social environment.

5. Pay-Per-Click Advertising or “Paid Search”
Many claim that every business benefits from Search Engine Optimization but the truth is, if you’re a smaller business, it may be very tough and expensive to rank in the first five search engine results even with optimization. Consider instead a pay-per-click advertising strategy. Google AdWords, Bing Ads, Yahoo, Yelp and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest all offer pay-per-click programs. Each platform works a little differently but all of them rely on identifying the right key words and understanding your target audience. Once you’ve identified start and stop dates, your maximum “pay-per-click” price and posted your ad, sit back and watch the results roll in. Facebook in particular offers advertisers robust monitoring capability so you optimize along the way.

6. Cultivate an email list and send out regular newsletters
An email newsletter allows you to maintain “personal” contact with customers. Nielsen Norman Group’s “Email Newsletter Usability Report” explains why. “Newsletters feel personal because they arrive in users’ inboxes, and users have an ongoing relationship with them… The positive aspect of this emotional relationship is that newsletters can create much more of a bond between users and a company than a website can” ( blog, February 28, 2017). Email is also a low-cost way to target mobile customers and best of all, companies that use email marketing report it delivers some of the highest ROI. Email analytics can also help you learn a lot about who is responding to which messages. Consider using your newsletter to send them updates, industry news, upcoming events, photos, infographics and special promotions.

7. Get PR
Local media is always looking for a good local story. “Earned media” or PR is a great way to let a broader audience know that your business is doing newsworthy things. Consider visiting the “how to” section of PRLog to help you develop a powerful press release (you can even make a YouTube or Vimeo video press release). Send it off to every outlet you think might bite. You never know, they might just go for it.

8. Measure and optimize
Monitor and measure what works and then optimize your plan on an ongoing basis. Not getting traction with Facebook? Change your approach or focus on the social media outlets that are working more effectively. Is there a particular promotion that’s getting a great response? Consider rolling it out across media or building an event around it. In today’s environment, flexibility and the ability to measure and pivot are big advantages especially online.

In their survey of 350 small business owners and managers, B2B research firm Clutch found that 49% of small businesses expect to increase their 2017 marketing and advertising budgets. There are more ways than ever for small businesses to use traditional marketing techniques and new technology to increase sales in the short and long term. To ensure your marketing dollars are spent wisely, take the time to map out a strategy, research the media landscape that can work for you and factor in time and money for experimentation.

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