Julie Cave
Julie Cave 5 July 2016

But I Can't Afford Digital Marketing!

What do you do if you’re a small business and you can’t afford digital marketing? The first thing to understand is not that you can’t afford digital marketing, but that you can’t afford NOT to do digital marketing. But we understand that it’s hard for a small business to pay out money they don’t have on a digital marketing strategy. So knowing that you have to do digital marketing, but that you can’t afford to hire someone, what do you do?

Step One

Get a decent website. Something that is not negotiable is to at least have a website. Your website is your first and best salesperson, and you need to invest in it. Most people have to outsource to get their website, but this is well worth it. The good news is that a website, depending on it’s complexity, doesn’t need to be expensive. This step is vital because this is where a potential customer will come to learn more about your business. Even if you can’t afford digital marketing, you must invest into a website.

Step Two

View marketing as an investment in your own business. It’s not something you can put off – by the time you do that, it’ll be too late. So you may need to think about how you view marketing: as a necessary cost of doing business or as cost you’ll only incur once you have the money to do it. The bad news is that if you decide you can’t afford digital marketing now, you’ll be waiting a long time. And you might go out of business in the meantime.

Step Three

Commit your own time to do it properly. It’ll require discipline and a commitment to do it each week – or it won’t work. Be prepared to set aside between two to five hours a week to commit to marketing. If you can’t find the time, you may need to pay someone to do it for you.

Step Four

Get trained by someone who knows what they’re doing. The person who trains you should establish an overall strategy, plus the steps you need to take to implement the strategy, and how to measure the results of the strategy. It’s not just a matter of trying to write up a few blogs or sharing the odd thing on social media. It must be driven by an overall strategy so that it works.

Step Five

Do it. Don’t give up, even if you can’t see the benefits. Marketing takes time and the results are not usually instantaneous. You may be wondering why a Facebook post could even be considered marketing, and it’s important not to lose faith in the process. Persistence will lead to results.

Step Six

Measure it. Find out what’s working and what’s not. There are lots of metrics you can measure to find out what’s working other than just the bottom line. Are people engaging with your brand? Is your content being shared and viewed more often? Are you building relationships? These are all metrics of a successful marketing strategy, in addition to improving your sales and profitability. Even if you think you can’t afford digital marketing, you can’t afford to allow your brand to drift into oblivion.

Step Seven

Upgrade. When you get too busy, you can outsource your marketing. Sometimes you need to do what you do best – your business – and let professionals take over your marketing.

Remember to view marketing as an investment. Start off small and work your way up as you can afford it.

Common Reasons Businesses Think They Can’t Afford Digital Marketing

I’ve tried it before and it didn’t work.
This is a common one. You’ve either tried it yourself and not really knowing what you were doing (or not having the time to do it properly), it didn’t work. Or worse, you paid a business to do it for you and they didn’t deliver. The problem here, is that you are letting a bad experience impact on the future of your business. Don’t limit your business potential because of one bad experience.

I’ll do it in 6 months time. I don’t have the time, money etc to do it now.
Success starts today. What is going to change between now and then? In 6 months time you’ll still not be ready and will put it off for another 6 months.

Giving up early on social media
Everyone talks about the benefits of social media marketing — but if your business’ social media sites have hardly any followers, it can be frustrating when these benefits don’t appear. If you aren’t seeing social media success, it could be due to a number of problems; the one thing you never want to do is give up on your social media marketing, however. There are too many advantages to social media visibility to make it worth abandoning.

Expecting instant results from your SEO
If your business has adopted a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign, it’s undoubtedly irritating to see your website’s rankings languish past the first page of Google results. However, SEO is a long-term investment, not a quick fix. Instead of trying to land that viral piece of content that may never come, devote your SEO strategy to developing high-quality, lasting content that will build your rankings over the long run. When an amazing 70% of mobile searches will result in online action within an hour or less, you can’t afford not to give up on SEO.

Failing to understand the importance of high-quality content

A high quality piece of content requires an initial outlay (or investment), but it is the gift that continues to give. It can be re-purposed over time and can generate traffic to your site months and years after it was created. It helps to establish you as a leader in your industry and establishes your website as a place to come for trustworthy information.

You Might Need Digital Marketing Training

You know your brand and you are passionate about your own business, but do you know how to sell yourself in a digital environment? The way marketing is implemented online is very different.  It’s not about making a hard sell or broadcasting yourself. It’s about building relationships and becoming a trusted source of value. Knowing how to craft a strategy that does that for you is not always easy. A marketing strategy should be intimately acquainted with your business and your business goals, and be able to translate that into value for your audience.

Learning how to do the basics of digital marketing could be good first step on the road to a digital marketing plan. The worst thing you can do is nothing.

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