Building your brand on a shoestring budget

What really scares me (yes, scares me!) is the moment a business runs low on cash or experiences a lean month, the very first thing they do is either cut or slash the marketing budget! Why oh why?

Surely our thinking should be of such a nature that marketing (and by default brand building) is the last thing to go, after all, without an effective marketing campaign it can be quite a challenge to get sales, well for most sectors that is. And wouldn’t you agree with a strong brand in place that sales will become easier? Think of brands like Coca-Cola, Virgin Atlantic and Nike. They have done the hard yards with brand building and marketing. In fact they have done such a great job, if they didn’t market for a year for example, their brand would still carry their sales.

What if you are a startup, or run a SME, and you really do only have a shoestring budget available for marketing?

I want to say never fear! With some creativity and out of the box thinking we can think of ways that will make a very small budget work. Heck, even if you don’t have any cash-flow there are ways that you can market for free.

It is important to remember that branding is not merely a cute designed logo, an eye-catching website or a great looking letterhead. Your brand is so much more than that.

Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room. – Jeff Bezos

With great marketing comes great brand building, so let’s take a look at some effective ways you can market to build your brand:

Landing pages

Create hype around your brand by using something as simple and effective as a landing page. If you don’t know what a landing page is, think of it as a mini-website, therefore it’s a one-page “website” either hosted as a page on your current website or on a SEO keyword rich domain, for example, www.customdesigns.co.za . The goal with the landing page is to build your brand by getting the visitor to take an action. This action could be to watch a video, to download an ebook or to complete a form. Remember, the key to an effective landing page is that it focuses on one goal only, one product or service only. The end result is further engagement with your brand.

You can design this landing page for free yourself or you can ask a web designer, at a nominal fee, to put this together for you. You even have cost-effective lead page platforms that will assist you with this. One of the more popular sites for this is Leadpages.

The power of testimonials

Word of mouth took on a whole new meaning with the advent of the digital world. With powerful testimonials your current clients are a testament to the value of your brand. Believe me, it always sounds better if the praise is coming from someone else’s mouth. And because information is so easily accessible on the web, by a click of a button, prospective clients can visit your website and social media platforms to take a look at what your clients are saying about you.

Content is still King

You may up until now not taken content very seriously. I beg you to do so! Content is here to stay. The best thing for you to do is to embrace it, own it and make it work in your favour. And it’s free! Yay! Content can take so many shapes, including blogs, social media tweets and posts, vlogs, effective images and so much more. The more content you put out the better. The better content you put out the greater your brand reach becomes. Keep in mind that there is a difference between being active on social and blogging for the sake of being active, or doing so with a strategy.

Take a week to prepare a proper content calendar for the next 3 months. Identify 3 key platforms that you know your audience hangs out on and strategise your content for each platform. The goal with your content is to create brand awareness, brand trust and then new clients.

Bringing it together

From this blog you can tell that you don’t necessarily require a huge budget to start building your brand. Or at the very least you require a small budget. If you don’t have the writing or other creative skills to get this done, now is the time to cash in on favours, barter with fellow startups, but do what needs to be done in order to start your brand building. This kind of activity takes time and I think 2018 is a great year to start with this. If you are already doing it, good for you, now is the time to ramp it up and make the brand building work in your favour.

Ask yourself, what is your ultimate goal with building a brand? Take the answer and reverse engineer to get to your starting point. This goal gives you motivation and helps with better planning.

Happy brand building!