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Branding on a Budget: How Small Businesses Can Make a Big Impact

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When it comes to brand marketing, many businesses will be shocked to learn that a little can go a long way. It doesn’t take a multi-million dollar marketing campaign involving Super Bowl ads to become the next big thing. 

However, like anything else in business, it takes time, hard work, and commitment. New and growing small businesses such as business storage Vancouver or phone repair Calgary that commit to their branding can still make a splash, even if they don’t have a large budget to spend.

Tips for Creating a Winning Marketing Strategy on a Tight Budget

The first thing a business owner should do if they are attempting to create a branding strategy on a limited budget is to prepare in advance. Before you ever start your branding initiatives, have the essential aspects of your brand figured out, including its name, logo, website, social media handles, mission statement, brand identity, and anything else you will need to know to create an effective branding campaign. Attempting to figure these out along the way will only create confusion and inconsistency.

The most important concept a business leader must remember when creating a branding strategy is that brand marketing is essentially storytelling. Especially for small businesses, a big part of what people buy goes beyond the product — it’s the story behind it — so you must find the things that help you and your business stand out from your competitors, and work hard to emphasize those in any branding.

Strategic partnerships can help your brand get greater recognition. Look for other brands in adjacent industries whose own branding could benefit from a partnership. 

For example, a pet toy company and a pet food company could strategize an effective synergistic partnership because the two brands are not in direct competition with one another, and they share the same target audience. A strategic partnership could help both brands save resources on their marketing efforts.

Similarly, businesses should look for opportunities where they can strategically trade with potential marketing partners. Some marketing firms might be open to a bartering arrangement if it serves them. A company can provide its goods and services at a discount or free of charge in exchange for receiving free or discounted marketing services. 

Of course, this will be up to the discretion of both parties, and some marketing firms might not be interested in such an arrangement. However, it is worth asking — especially if the product or service you provide is useful or valuable.

How to Connect with Your Target Audience

For those who decide to get out there and do the branding work themselves, networking events such as conferences can be a great setting to spread the word about your business. Depending on your budget, your presence at these events may range from as simple as attending the event and handing out business cards to having a table representing the company. No matter how small the involvement is, networking events are a powerful way to make connections if you know how to approach them.

Growing brands should also take advantage of opportunities they can afford that help their community. Getting involved with the community by helping charity groups can be a great way for a brand to increase its presence, while also doing something good for its community. That being said, brands must take care to be authentic with this approach, as it can have negative effects if the public perceives the brand’s actions as “just for the optics.”

Furthermore, don’t underestimate the value of free opportunities to create and market your brand, such as social media. Social media marketing is a valuable tool because it allows brands to connect directly with their customers. Many brands have found success creating a humorous online persona or having playful “rivalries” with their competitors, creating moments that go “viral.” Other companies have created a customer-first online approach, using social media and DMs to provide speedy, convenient customer service and support.

Videos and articles are another way to get your brand’s name out there. Invest in yourself by becoming an expert in your field, and share your knowledge online to convince others of your expertise. Look for opportunities to publish guest posts and OpEds online, or start a YouTube channel or podcast to talk about topics relevant to your industry. Even if the audience is small at first, the people you reach will build up over time.

Ultimately, it is up to you to do the leg work, researching opportunities that allow you to work on your branding without breaking the bank. For example, there are plenty of websites that list your company for free. These business listing websites range from providing general information — such as Google and Yelp — to more industry-specific ones that cater to readers of a particular niche. Because many of these websites offer review features, it can also be a great way to get positive word-of-mouth about your business.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Leverage your friends, family, and social influence. Ask friends, family members, and followers to share posts on social media, spread the word about marketing events, or leave a review for your business online. These steps don’t cost them any money and take very little time. Additionally, since you are asking your loved ones, chances are they will be enthusiastic and passionate about supporting you and your business.

Remember, when it comes to marketing, money doesn’t always equal success. Even if you have a huge marketing budget, there’s no guarantee that you will be successful. 

On the other hand, small businesses that don’t have a massive budget can take advantage of free and low-cost options like social media, word of mouth, and strategic partnerships to get the word out there about their brand. It might take a bit of extra creativity and elbow grease, but it will pay off in the long run.

About the author


Ray Sheehan

Ray Sheehan has a background in strategic planning, marketing, event management, and advertising and has helped the company expand from one city to over twenty states. In 2020, he launched the G.I.F.T Program as part of Old City Media. Ray is recognized as a leader and an innovative thinker in the special events industry.