Are you ready to hear a harsh truth?
The ‘if you build it, they will come’ approach to marketing is dead.
Sure, you can throw hordes of cash at paid ads on Facebook or email and hope that something sticks with audiences.
But you’d be far better off making like the majority of business owners today who are investing their hard-earned resources into content marketing. With 70% of marketers upping their content output in 2017, a content-driven approach offers a win-win outcome as you generate leads and grow your reputation at the same time.
Let’s be honest, though. Growing your brand’s presence through content marketing can feel like an uphill battle, especially if you’re strapped for cash.
Fortunately, there are some actionable options for businesses with little to no budget.
The beauty of content marketing comes from the reality that your investment is based on your time rather than cash. Taking a page out of the growth hack playbook, budding businesses should strive to do as much as they can without spending a dime.
In a content marketing scenario, your budget is all about hours in the day versus dollars and cents. If you have the time to implement the following savvy strategies, you can set the stage for a booming online business.
Here are 5 ways to leverage content marketing on a budget to grow your online presence:
1. Build your base by blogging
It’s also no surprise that marketing gurus such as Neil Patel (QuickSprout and Crazy Egg), Darren Rowse (ProBlogger) and Brian Clark (Copyblogger) have built full-blown businesses through committing to consistent content creation. These same people have also positioned themselves as go-to experts in their respective niches because of their massive wealth of knowledge.
Patel attributes the rapid rise of Crazy Egg’s traffic to the company’s frequent blogging strategy.
You may think to yourself, “Why can’t I do that?”
Well, you can. All you need to do is get aggressive with your content output.
If you want to grow your brand’s presence quickly, you’re going to have to post blogs, and post them often. Blogging through platforms such as Medium or LinkedIn means you can quite literally tell your brand’s story without spending a cent.
Within two months, Shauna was able to:
- Increase her Medium traffic by ten times what it was the previous month (over 300,000 views) and more than double her follower count
- Boost her email list by over 1,000 subscribers
- Earn nearly $1,000 in affiliate revenue from two posts: she also was offered additional deals from affiliates based on her traffic
All from the power of the written word on a totally free platform.
The key takeaway here? It pays to be prolific. If you’re crafting legitimately useful content that people want to read, your audience will arrive.
2. Double-dip your content with video
If you’re simply posting content to your company blog and calling it a day, you’re doing it wrong.
Given the effort that goes into creating your content, shouldn’t you squeeze as much out of it as you possibly can?
Enter the world of repurposing your content via video marketing.
Video marketing has a higher ROI and engagement rate than text-based content. Combine that with the fact that YouTube generates billions of view per day and Facebook users are watching live videos three times more than any other type of content.
If you think video marketing sounds like an expensive investment, think again.
Do you have a smartphone with a camera?
If you answered ‘yes’, then you’re good to go.
Don’t worry too much about production value. Off-the-cuff street vlogs and informal live videos are all the rage right now, and represent yet another way to tell your brand’s story. For example, consider the popularity of inspirational entrepreneurial gurus such as Tai Lopez.
He is literally vlogging standing on the street talking to his smartphone.
If you have a blog post, you already have the script to film a marketing video. Take further inspiration from the marketing strategies of brands such as Moz who combine blog posts and videos to give their audience the best of both worlds in terms of their content.
The best part is, both YouTube and Facebook Live won’t eat into your budget whatsoever.
3. Build your email list today
It doesn’t matter what business ideas you have in mind: from B2B to B2C, everyone should invest in email marketing.
Whether you look at statistics such as the reported 3,800% ROI of email or the $38 in profits for every $1 spent according to Campaign Monitor, the data supporting the need for a list is certainly promising, as noted in the graph below.
Ah, so therein lies the problem of the price tag, right?
Not necessarily. Although there are tons of email providers out there, MailChimp offers a ‘forever-free’ program for businesses with lists under 2,000 subscribers. This is an awesome option for smaller brands to get started with emails, offers and opt-ins to see what sticks with their audience.
In short, you shouldn’t let your lack of cash hold you back from building an email list to further promote your content, discounts and deals. When the time does come that you’ve outgrown a free subscription, you can always upgrade. However, starting small and working your way up ensures that you don’t waste any money and it allows you to experiment with your marketing.
4. Streamline your social media
Social media content ranks as the top content marketing strategy of today’s businesses.
But while social media has provided businesses endless opportunities to network and acquire customers, it can also represent a potential black hole of time-wasting.
Boosting your blog posts to Facebook and spending time stalking your competitors on Twitter is not a suitable social strategy if you want to get the most out of your time. You need to pick and choose your social platforms carefully, ideally focusing on one channel with one or two secondary channels.
Right now, there’s a heavy emphasis on Facebook and LinkedIn as prime platforms for networking. Facebook Groups, in particular, presents an awesome opportunity to get your content in front of a relevant, hyper-targeted audience.
Seriously: there’s a Facebook community for just about anything.
Given that nearly 33% of Facebook users regularly engage with brands, Facebook is currently the number one place to nurture a niche audience.
Remember, it’s crucial that you don’t let your social presence distract from your content strategy. Spreading yourself too thin by trying to dominate every single social channel will do that to you, so be careful.
5. Master the art of the cold pitch
Finally, let’s talk about one of the most underrated strategies for boosting your business that just so happens to be absolutely free.
The concept of cold emailing understandably freaks many marketers out. The idea of reaching out to someone out of the blue and expecting any sort of traction to come from it seems pretty ignorant, right?
But cold emailing is a great way to get your business off the ground, especially for solo-preneurs. That’s what freelance writer Jorden Roper of Writing Revolt did to take her business from $800 a month to $5,000 a month. Instead of passively waiting for clients to come to her, she understood that there’s always the option to take action.
Mastering cold email can also help improve your inbound marketing efforts. For example, Neil Patel notes how you can build a seven-figure business blog through pitching guest blog posts in the graphic below.
If there are relevant sites and blogs out there in which your content could find the perfect home, you literally have nothing to lose by reaching out to the site editors with your pitch.
The same rules apply to businesses looking for potential clients and customers.
You don’t need a bloated budget to sow effective seeds for business or marketing success. Instead, you simply need to be willing to put in long hours, at least until you get off the ground.
These free tactics are proven across multiple industries to help get more eyes on your business minus a massive cost.
Try them out and let me know what you think in the comments section.
Guest Author: Jonathan Chan is the Content Crafter and Marketer for Foundr. A place dedicated to empowering each and every entrepreneur out there with the best knowledge, tactics and actionable advice on the planet.