Branding is something that we all know we should be doing for our small businesses, but we just can not afford it. Recent surveys have shown that a majority of small business owners dedicate approximately 0% of their overall marketing budget on branding efforts. In this article I will share some cheap branding strategies to help you get more bang for your buck with the limited funds that you may have available for branding activities.
1. Logo Design
It seems like everyone in the world has a logo these days, but not all logos are made equal. A professional logo design company can charge anywhere from $1,500 to over $100,000 for their work. Not only are there huge variations in price tags when it comes to logo design, there are also huge differences when it comes to quality of work. The best way to get an exceptional logo is to buy one online where you can get pre-made templates starting at around $30 or have a freelance designer create something custom for between $150 and $300. One thing that I will say about either of these options is you should always use a reputable design company or freelancer because there are many companies whose goal is to take your money and give you junk. Otherwise the logo may be free, but it will likely look like garbage after your startup receives $2 million in funding and gets featured on TechCrunch.
2. Brand Consistency
One of the most important things that you can do to get a leg up on your competition is have consistency with the branding across every outlet. By being consistent you build trust with your customers, they know what to expect from your business and they know how to find you when they need you again. Here are some ideas for brand consistency:
– Have a common user interface for both mobile and web apps/sites
– Use one color scheme throughout all of your branding elements
– Have common copy across web pages, social media posts and press releases
3. PPC (Pay Per Click) & SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
According to endlessbranding.com PPC is by far one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your site. If you have a small budget for marketing then you should use PPC as the primary strategy for getting customers to visit your site so that you can earn revenue from them. However, if you have a large budget for marketing then it might be best to save some money by using PPC or SEO as secondary strategies in order to focus on brand-building activities that will bring more users over time. It is important to note that not everyone uses PPC correctly. A lot of people use PPC in the same way that they would use SEO, which is not very effective. If you are new to PPC I would recommend picking up a book or 2 on the topic before you get started with this strategy.
4. Press Releases
Press releases can be one of the cheapest branding strategies available for small businesses. Though it may be possible to reach out to journalists and bloggers by using social media, press releases often have guaranteed distribution through many news sites. Depending on your budget you should try focusing more time on writing unique press releases that will attract high-quality customers than trying to pitch journalists over and over again. For example, if your company just did an amazing round of funding then you do a press release about it instead of just constantly tweeting about it with no tangible benefits.
5. Word of Mouth Marketing
One of the cheapest branding strategies available is word-of-mouth marketing. It is often said that you should never work to advertise your business, but rather help others so much that they will talk about you all on their own. If someone loves your product or service enough then they will be happy to recommend it to their friends and family, if they don’t like it then they won’t go out of their way to do anything for you even if you pay them (not everyone has this kind of loyalty). To put more focus on the word of mouth marketing simply stop spending money on traditional forms of advertising and focus solely on building a high-quality product/service that people love to use. If you have built up a business with this mindset then you will be able to generate word-of-mouth advertising without spending a dime.
6. Social Media Marketing
Though it is not as cheap as most other strategies out there, social media marketing can still be extremely cost-effective if done correctly. The first thing that I would recommend for anyone looking to grow their social media presence is finding a way to automate or outsource your content curation and post publishing. One of my favorite ways to do this is by using Hootsuite because it allows me to manage all of my Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and LinkedIn profiles from one dashboard. This allows me to save hours per week on automation/management tasks which gives me more time to focus on more important things like creating better products, providing better customer service, or growing my business.
The next thing that I would recommend is to find the best times throughout the day for your audience (based on engagement) and choose a handful of tools like Tweriod, Tweepi, and CoSchedule that will help you post at those times automatically. This type of automation is extremely effective because it allows you to stay on top of content curation while reducing the stress caused by having to be glued to your computer all day long.
Though there are many branding strategies available at different price points these are some of the cheapest strategies available for small businesses who have limited budgets but are looking for ways to increase brand awareness through consistent exposure. These are not meant to be quick money grabs but rather long-term marketing strategies that help you build your brand over time.