How can an SME get the best marketing return for a limited budget?

SMEs can find marketing a challenge – but there are ways of making a significant difference even on a limited budget.

For many, marketing can be one of the hardest things to do. After all, if you have set up a small business you know how to use your core skills in providing the goods or services you do, but marketing may be something you know little about.

To add to this, most SME firms have a modest budget for marketing, which means you may feel reluctant to make a commitment unless the money you can afford to spend will bring some tangible benefits.

Indeed, SMEs tend to find traditional forms of marketing – such as billboards and newspaper ads – to be ineffective. In some sectors – such as legal firms – research has shown that this kind of marketing brings extremely weak returns.

 This is where digital marketing comes to the fore. It has the capacity to be far more effective than other forms of media for a range of reasons and will, therefore, provide a better return on investment.

There are several reasons for digital marketing to be more effective than traditional advertising:

  • It is visible for longer
  • It is easier to target specific groups of people in your target market
  • Digital marketing enables you to combine a range of different tools to achieve various goals and bring you new custom
  • Digital advertising is particularly effective if the goods or services you offer are targeted at younger people, almost all of whom are daily internet users

What are your best options for digital marketing?

It is one thing to discover that digital marketing offers an effective means of reaching 21st century consumers, but with a range of different tools available, it is important to make the right choices about which ones to use, when and how much. Quite simply, having a small budget means you can’t simply use everything.

Therefore, it is worth considering what various kinds of digital marketing can achieve.

How does content marketing and SEO develop awareness?

Content marketing is defined as marketing that sells indirectly, by speaking in depth about a subject, the issues that arise connected with the topic and how these may be resolved. It is more editorialising than advertising.

This usually takes the form of content like blogs or news, with the effect being to develop a sense of authority. If these are published on your website or an external hosting site, they can help raise your profile and nurture a sense of trust in you and your firm.

They can also tell a compelling story about your firm and why you do what you do – which needs to be something much more compelling than simply ‘being the best’ or making money.

All this requires good search engine optimisation, or SEO. This is the process by which content can be produced in such a way as to make it much easier for those seeking information, goods or services online to find. Examples include:

  • Keywords: By including relevant search terms in your content, it is more likely to come up in Google search
  • Images: Both video and high quality still images can boost your ranking
  • Relevance and authority – Your content needs to be good and be of value to those who read it

It is important to note that it takes time to build up a ranking, with it usually taking around six months to reach page one of the Google rankings. Research has shown few people look beyond the first page, so this is where you need to be.

For that reason, content marketing is all about building up awareness in the longer term.

Why might PPC be the fast track to success?

If your priority is gaining leads quickly, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can be a very effective way to do this. By bidding either for space on a search engine or on a social media platform, you can create ads that you only pay for when someone clicks on it – giving you a lead you can follow up.

An advantage of PPC is that you can set budget limits to ensure you don’t end up paying out more than you can afford due to a large number of clicks. This means you can stay on top of your finances more easily.

What can email marketing do?

Email marketing can be one of the most effective ways of following up leads. This is because their content can be tailored to the stage the customer is at in the buyer journey:

  • Those in the awareness stage can be sent more information and invited to sign up for more emails, newsletters and so on, or provide extra information through a survey
  • Those at the consideration and decision stages can be targeted with enticing messages, such as introductory discounts
  • Existing customers can be targeted with tailored messages offering incentives for further purchases, such as discounts

Social media management

Social media management is a very effective way of raising your profile on social media in various ways:

  • Attractive posts using good content, images and video to entice customers, interact and start conversations and raise awareness
  • Help boost your brand by revealing more about what you are all about
  • Help you defend your reputation against anything negative that arises

Skilled social media management will also help make the most of the right platforms for your customer. For instance, LinkedIn is best for B2B, while Instagram is ideal if your target market is disproportionately young and female.

Making the right choice

With a limited budget, you will not use all of these things at once. The key point is to consider what your priorities are. For instance, if you have enough time you can look to organic content to build up awareness, while PPC is best if you need leads fast.

For that reason, whenever you want digital marketing to make a difference, make sure you are getting a package of tools that meets your needs in the most appropriate way, targets the right audience and offers the best means of ensuring a good return on a modest investment.

How BeUniqueness can help you

We specialise in helping SMEs grow through harnessing the power of digital marketing. We know every firm is different and the challenges they face can vary, so we always seek to develop a unique strategy to enable every firm get the best return on marketing investment possible.

See also: Organic SEO or PPC? What’s best for marketing?