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How To Do Marketing Without a Budget

In this guest post, Alexandra Malomuzh, marketing specialist at the online private tutor marketplace Preply, shares her ideas for young companies on how to do marketing with a limited budget.

In young companies, the distribution of roles and duties can be quite arbitrary. The company’s founder often acts as a planner, implementer, and sales manager. He or she tries to explore all areas, save money, and stand in for all the missing employees. Any company eventually reaches the point where its development screeches to a halt if it doesn’t invest in advertising. What should companies do when their budgets simply can’t bear marketing expenses?


Hone your skills

If the young business has money to bring on an experienced marketing specialist, that’s great. But more often, such companies don’t have enough money to pay a qualified specialist, and the owner of the business tries to figure out marketing on his or her own. Owners spend money to take part in specialized conferences, where, if they are good at networking, they manage to meet good specialists and gain some useful advice free of charge. This way, step by step, business people begin to know their way around marketing, apply the skills they’ve acquired on a daily basis in their business, and thus become full-fledged experts.

But with time, even a person covering many roles will face the need to delegate tasks, e.g. due to lack of time. At that point, it is important that you avoid any mistakes when choosing an expert who can not only smoothly enter into your established working process, but also bring new knowledge into the company. It is important to determine any weak marketing points right away, and to fill these gaps with people trained in this field who are already full-fledged experts with extensive experience. Hiring neophytes and teaching them things that are already being used takes too much time, and it won’t bring the progress you expect.

Look for tips

It would be impossible to cover all marketing activities under one universal piece of advice. For young businesses, I would divide all your tools into three main subgroups: working with channels for attracting consumers, methods for retaining users, and analytics. You can read about search engine optimization (SEO) and algorithms for correct placement of paid advertisements on such blogs as Moz and Search Engine Land. Apart from that, it is important not to forget about analytics and working with content, as no marketing campaign will yield satisfactory results without them. Any approach needs to be a comprehensive one.

The words “free of charge” in marketing, as a rule, are met with disbelief and a lot of skepticism. There is an axiom that always works: the more you invest, the greater the coverage you will get. Of course, we cannot ignore some unpaid methods of promotion (which can work without additional investment, if you can do it yourself), such as writing internet content, managing groups on social networks, etc., but without investing any money the results won’t be so impressive, and promotion of your website won’t be so fast-moving. You need to invest smartly, however, because in practice there are many cases where budgets get allocated incorrectly and money is wasted. Behind every strong marketing strategy, there should be a top-ranking expert, who understands how you should invest and what you should invest in.

Monitor every stage

Every online marketing expert has their own set of marketing tools. SEO specialists work with various programs for scanning web sites, designing website structure, and working with keywords. E-mail marketing experts and PPC specialists command other tools which make their work easier. However, we can point out some universal programs and applications that will be necessary at each stage of promoting a business on the internet. These are Similarweb, which will help you analyze your online competitors; Semrush, a tool that analyzes websites provided by search engines; and AdWords Keyword Planner, which helps you choose the right search terms.

But before beginning to study marketing tools, a marketing expert gathers information in order to build a strategy. Everything starts from determining the target consumers and establishing the company’s potential in the chosen market niche. Next, comes the analysis of the competition, their share of the market, and their ways of promoting their websites. Based on the information gathered, a marketing expert determines what a project’s strong and weak points are, chooses channels for attracting users to the website, and draws up a budget for the marketing campaign. Only after all these steps have been taken can a global marketing strategy be established, as well as monthly or quarterly planning, setting of objectives, and KPIs. After a set period has passed, a marketing expert compares the obtained results with the results that were planned and makes adjustments to the strategy if necessary.

One thing is important to remember: marketing made with zero budget risks bringing zero results. You need to invest in your business, employees, and marketing.

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Alexandra Malomuzh is an inbound marketing specialist and a public speaker. She is the head of online marketing department at Preply.com, a global platform for online tutoring and a lecturer at Webpromoexperts Academy.
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