Effective marketing is essential for every business but especially crucial for those hoping to expand.  Unfortunately, small businesses face the greatest obstacles in this regard, and the ever-rising costs of professional marketing services put a serious strain on companies with limited resources.  But what many entrepreneurs and small business owners fail to realize is that marketing doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  With a bit of ingenuity, a steady investment of time, and some industry know-how, marketing can be kept in-house and inexpensive.  And while self-marketing has always been a viable option for small businesses, it is easier than ever in today’s digital landscape.

Social Media Marketing

Social media is the most important and least understood force in marketing today.  It provides businesses with the opportunity to connect with consumers in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.  Not only do sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn give marketers invaluable information about their consumer base, they also give companies the chance to show the human faces behind their professional facades.

SEO

Although SEO is beginning to lose relevance as Google improves search algorithms and social sites facilitate increasingly targeted advertising, it is nonetheless an essential aspect of online marketing.  Building links, posting regular content, increasing page traffic, improving site speed, and utilizing keywords are essential for every business with an online presence.  With a quick Google search, small businesses can find an endless array of tips and tricks for effective do-it-yourself SEO.

Alert the Media!

There is a wide range of sites that connect companies with journalists and help entrepreneurs create press releases.  Business owners can also track down press contacts in the back of industry-relevant magazines and newspapers.  Ultimately, quality marketing requires quality networking and media outreach campaigns. Whenever your company releases a new product, wins an award, relocates offices, or makes an exciting new hire, it is a valuable marketing opportunity.  Get the word out by building relationships with journalists and sending out regular press packs. Be sure to make it easy by providing all the necessary info, including correctly formatted quality photos, and keeping it brief.

Persistence + Time

No matter what else your marketing campaign includes, the two most important components are persistence and time.  Particularly when it comes to social media, companies must make marketing a weekly or daily priority.  Building relationships take time, and marketing investments rarely mature overnight.

Measure Success

Good marketing is a process of long-term refinement and growth.  The only way to find out what works in a marketing campaign is to constantly chart progress and efficacy.  Of course, this is no easy task, and the results are rarely clear.  But businesses must quantify the time and resources spent on marketing and learn where their customers come from.  Without data to back it up, marketing is little more than a speculation-based shot in the dark.

As every business owner knows, marketing is an investment—one requiring forethought, planning, and industry research.   And while the task can seem daunting for those just starting, it is well worth the time and effort.  Fortunately, the web provides an inexpensive avenue for detailed consumer research and the opportunity for massive worldwide exposure.  The internet has utterly transformed the marketing world in the past decade.  So as traditional modes of mass advertising quickly become anachronisms, small businesses today are suddenly finding themselves on equal footing with deep-pocketed corporate giants.  Not only is self-marketing the only affordable alternative for many businesses, but it is also arguably the most effective way of advertising in today’s increasingly targeted and digitized marketplace.