Marketing on a Shoe String Budget

- February 24, 2012 2 MIN READ

Start-ups and small businesses may not have the budgets and large teams that bigger businesses have, but being small is not at all a disadvantage. In fact, you have countless tools available to you and can do many things that big businesses find hard to do. The key is to carefully manage your marketing budget, make each opportunity for impact count, be very targeted in your approach, and eliminate waste in your marketing.

Previously we all read the same news, watched the same shows, and listened to the same ‘top of the charts’ music. Now, the choices are endless with a niche for everything and avenues for countless specialties and interests. This is because people are less interested in what is sold to the masses; they want direct engagement and they are less interested in ‘one stop shops’.

It is much more effective to target specialised markets and individuals with common interests than it is to take what I like to call, the ‘spam approach’ or to ‘spray and pray’. This is where a small business targets the largest audience that their budget will allow, and then hopes that out of the masses will be a handful of people who notice their marketing and feel it applies to them.

For a bike shop, abandoning the ‘spam approach’ might mean that instead of advertising their bike products on television or sending a direct mail blast to 10 local suburbs, they have an agreement with a bike blog where people can trial and review a selection of their products. They might also give cycling advice in a cycling/outdoors/ fitness magazine, sponsor a bike club and run a competition at a fitness centre where the winners receive a new set of their bike tires. The result is a greater return on investment.

Another way that start-ups can eliminate waste in their marketing is to really know their ideal client. It is foolish to aim toward having your business appear on the front of a magazine or being active on social media, if it is not a key watering hole where your ideal customers meet and are influenced by.

It is also foolish to invest in one marketing tool without having other tools that compliment it and help walk your potential customers along a the journey. Your marketing should smoothly transition an ideal client from not knowing about your business, to knowing and trusting you, then parting with their hard-earned money and finally becoming a loyal customer, who refers others to your business. This requires repetition and multiple targeted tactics, otherwise you are actually wasting your money and diluting your marketing efforts.

Start-ups who understand these principles, prove over and over again that it is possible to market your business without the budget of a large or established business.


Phoebe Netto is the Managing Director of Good Business Consulting, an advisory for small businesses, specialising in marketing and public relations to help good small businesses grow.