Being able to pay all your bills while still finding new customers for a self-owned business can be very frustrating when revenues are not regular.
It’s not just a matter of budget. Secret strategies that others know and you don’t, are a myth.
There’s something that comes way before any advertising campaign or marketing strategy. Be patient since it takes a little time to explain it.
However, nobody wants to talk about that “something” for two main reasons:
- everyone assumes that you know digital marketing inside out but they hope you don’t so they can try to sell you paid tools, books, courses, and the like,
- 99% of blogs and marketing-related websites have only one goal, that is, writing the same content using clickbait headlines to attract thousands of visitors and use their visibility to sell ads on their pages.
Today is your lucky day because I’m aware that there are questions that you need to ask yourself as soon as you decide to open your solopreneur business, which nobody has taught you before.
With this brief introduction, I assume it is clear that this article is aimed at those who run a home-based business such as beauticians, masseurs, and holistic operators, but also professionals, craftspeople, and small entrepreneurs.
What you’re going to read about.
Before we dive into the article, let’s get clear about what you’re going to find in it.
This is not a tutorial nor a “how to” type of post, although there’s a “gift” waiting for you. It’s the kind of article I call “Advanced reader’s content”.
These types of articles are meant for people who already know the basics of the subject being covered.
As a self-entrepreneur, you certainly know your job.
Nevertheless, perhaps you don’t possess a global knowledge of marketing, promotion, business communication, and social media marketing.
That’s why I want to share some suggestions which are as valuable as the most detailed guide on how to create a marketing strategy from scratch.
Nevertheless, remember that most of the choices you make are based on your mindset, more than technical knowledge, and mindsets can trick entrepreneurs in many ways.
In short, I’ll be covering these three topics:
- Continuing to advertise even when business is not going well and campaigns are not bringing the desired results means having sufficient resources to keep your self-employed business operating.
- Investing in advertising also means not activating paid advertising campaigns but still surviving between one campaign and the next.
- During tough times or when advertising campaigns don’t get results, you don’t have to stop marketing but you have to focus on finding accessible ways for your finances.
Let’s face “The Common Problem”.
Small businesses, solopreneurs, professionals, and craftspeople rarely have a marketing strategy, let alone a backup plan for lean times.
Therefore, before investing in advertising, ask yourself:
“Do I own adequate resources to face a period of weeks or months when nobody knocks at my door?”
Advertising, especially the “quick and easy type” on social media, is not something you are forced to pay for!
“Paid advertising” also has its opposite, which is “Organic advertising”.
Wait a minute! I’m not suggesting you stop your marketing strategy.
When your market niche is also served by other direct and indirect competitors, especially in the local arena, a condition occurs that small businesses rarely consider: the demand could be entirely satisfied, that is, the market could be saturated.
Familiar consequences are: no qualified leads respond to your ads, the clients you name “new clients” have actually decided to use your services after an unsatisfactory experience with the previous competitor, or the solution to their “problem” no longer works as they expected, or they are curious to try something they had not considered before. The reasons are multiple.
The misnomer everybody falls for.
Keep in mind that the term “new clients” is a misnomer, a concept that is widely accepted but ultimately obscures the realities of marketing.
The truth is, there are no truly “new clients” in the sense of individuals who have never made a purchase before; instead, there are only clients that either your competitors lure away from you or you acquire from your competitors.
You might think I’m talking in circles, but I’m actually trying to clarify a complex issue. This isn’t just another form of verbal manipulation.
However, in terms of Customer Journey, understanding where your customers come from can have significant implications for your marketing and consequently for your promotional investments, and I promise I will discuss it in another article.
Obviously, this is not the case for first-time home buyers, buying their first car, or taking their first trip abroad.
The question nobody cares about.
Let’s get back to the point: before investing in advertising, ask yourself if you have the resources to survive during periods of declining or plummeting sales.
Also, bear in mind that it never happens out of the blue, like an earthquake.
Although you are not an economist you can notice the signs of an impending demand collapse, which is why you need a “plan B” that can be put into action immediately.
Many indicators of an imminent demand collapse can be easily noticed even by small business owners. Here are a few:
If your sales have been reducing for an extended period of time, this might indicate that demand for your products or services is dwindling.
If you see an increase in competition in your niche market, it might mean that demand for your products or services is decreasing and new direct or indirect competitors are taking a portion of your small market.
Declining Market Share
If your market share is declining, it might indicate that demand for your products or services is decreasing and your competitors are gaining a larger share of the market.
As customers cut back on spending, a larger economic downturn or recession can contribute to a fall in demand for your products or services.
Of course, wondering if you can face a “lean” period is something that should have been pondered long before throwing money into social media ads.
However, as I said before, small businesses rarely have a “strategy for tough times”.
Few ask themselves this question because oftentimes the whole business activities are focused on getting paid, paying suppliers and bills, and often, paying off old debts.
This happens because the entire business operates according to the widely known principle of 80/20.
As Dave Ramsey, “America’s trusted voice on money,” reminds us on TikTok, in personal finance, 80% is due to personal behavior, voluntary or involuntary choices we all make.
Only 20% is learned knowledge, that is, what everyone learns from books, courses, and experiences about personal finance and family economics.
You don’t need to worship math to manage the money that comes in and out of the house, although knowing the basics of business management is your own duty as self-employed.
It’s a problem of behavior, always unconscious, and this happens in families, personal affairs, as well as in small businesses where “work and private life” are mixed up because there is a single cash flow from which the same money comes in and goes out.
In conclusion, if you have a small home-based business in order to save on the rent of a city location, remember that you are not bound to invest in advertising if you barely make ends meet.
Before investing in paid promotions, remember that there are many ways to promote your services on a shoestring budget. All or most of them involve content marketing and copywriting.
It’s not necessary to hire a professional to handle your digital marketing, and it’s not really advisable to rely on those who promise to bring in 30 new clients every month with the latest “safe and guaranteed” method just invented.
The primary goal of these so-called web marketing gurus is to sell their “proven method” to the thousands of newly self-employed people who can’t wait to replenish their bank accounts.
When they offer you a solution to earn by doing little or nothing, with the offer of “49 instead of 1,000”, you are the only target of their business.
Therefore, when the market is saturated, demand is plummeting, everyone is terrified of a recession, and new customers are not responding to your campaigns, the very first thing you should do is not only to take a break and reflect on alternative solutions to keeping your marketing alive but also to put a stop to small expenses “that surely you can still afford”, such as “safe methods promoted on social media to find new customers” for 49 instead of 1.000.
How to advertise on a shoestring budget?
Despite the fact that this article it’s not a tutorial, I want to offer some practical advice on how to promote your services on a low budget.
Advertising during tough times can be challenging, but with the right strategies and mindset, it’s possible to achieve good results without breaking the bank.
Here are some of the tips you should consider depending on your finances.
#1 When you are on a tight budget the password is “build partnerships”.
There are many ways you can collaborate with other businesses. You could imitate what I suggested to a mindfulness coach who wanted to offer online courses. Since online competition is fierce, I suggested differentiating her packages including a discount on articles for meditators in partnership with an eCommerce selling high-quality accessories. Look for businesses that share your values and target audience, and find ways to collaborate and cross-promote each other.
#2 Leverage social media
Social media is one of the most cost-effective ways to advertise your business. Forget about creating engaging content and building a loyal following: do it now, immediately but remember it takes time. Thousands of followers on Tik Tok mean nothing when they are not potential clients. It’s just food for your ego.
#3 Collaborate with influencers
Influencer marketing is another effective way to reach your target audience without spending a lot of money. Find influencers in your niche who have a loyal following, and collaborate with them to promote your products or services. Look for influencers with a small number of really engaged and passionate about your niche market, willing to try your solution to their specific problem.
#4 Attend local events
Attending local events and trade shows can be a great way to network and promote your business. It’s also a great opportunity to build relationships with potential customers and partners.
#5 Create events
Depending on your business type and market niche, create regular events on a budget. For example, if you offer mindfulness and meditation classes, find special places, like farmhouses where retreats can take place, based on free entry or pay-what-you-want. It’s a great way to nourish word-of-mouth and online reviews which are, keep in mind, the fuel of marketing professional services.
#6 Use Email Marketing
Perhaps, although Whatsapp and the like will keep growing their popularity, depending on which part of the globe you’re living in, Email marketing is still among the highly effective way to reach your target audience and promote your business. By building a list of subscribers and sending targeted emails, you can keep your audience engaged and interested in your products or services. Find a good and possibly free Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) to manage your mail marketing funnels and you can spare a fortune.
By implementing these strategies, you can advertise on a shoestring budget and still achieve great results.
With a little creativity and persistence, you can build a successful business without breaking the bank.
What are the main points that you gleaned from reading this article?
From reading this article, I assume you have acquired the following tips:
- Small businesses, freelancers, solopreneurs, professionals, and craftspeople often lack a marketing strategy and backup plan for lean times, which can be detrimental to their business.
- Before investing in advertising, small businesses should assess whether they have adequate resources to survive during periods of declining or plummeting sales.
- The demand for small businesses can become saturated when there are other direct and indirect competitors in the local arena, which can make it challenging to attract new clients or increase purchases from active clients.
- It is essential to have a “plan B” that can be put into action immediately and to avoid relying solely on paid promotions when the market is saturated and demand is plummeting. Additionally, it’s crucial to stop small expenses that are not necessary and may not bring the desired results.
- If you own a small business, depending on your market niche and your distribution system, that is how you serve your customers, never, never rely solely on social media and what everybody tells you to use these days. There are still many marketing media, both online and offline which are cost-effective and you can use for your own benefit.
Please share your experiences with us: it’s a great way to help each other, grow as a community, and find help from like-minded entrepreneurs.
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