Shoestring Marketing

Top tips from Vaishali Shah on quick, easy and low cost marketing wins.

Wallet wrapped in shoestring
Photo: Getty Images

Many venue businesses will have made some level of cutback as a result of the pandemic, so can you stay standing out from the crowd with a reduced marketing spend? Here are some quick and low cost suggestions.

1. Be online
Ensure that you have a strong online presence and your website is updated. Many venues have taken their businesses online with virtual showrounds and open days, for example.
Instead of printed brochures, have a well-designed online brochure that you can email out and have available to download from your website. PDF brochures of your venue work well and will save on printing costs.

It is key to make sure your website and marketing materials resonate with both your current and potential customers.

2. Stay visible
Keep showing up and posting on social media to keep visible and increase your following. Social media is free if you are doing it in-house and is a cost-effective marketing tool if you outsource. Image based platforms are excellent to showcase venues and you can talk about what you are working on, including new packages for example.

3. Collaborate
Reach out to bloggers who are continually looking for fresh content to feature. Collaborate with other businesses, such as your preferred suppliers, who have a similar target audience. You could guest blog for each other to build up both your following and database. You could also create a joint competition with a handful of businesses each donating something to create a coveted prize, which would then be promoted across the social media platforms and mailing lists of all participating businesses.

4. Photography skills
Do you have images of your venue that need to be added to your website? Do you need more imagery? If you have always outsourced photography to a professional photographer, you may want to take an online course on how to take impactful, clear photos using your smartphone. There are many inexpensive photography courses online where you could learn a new skill or perfect an existing one – how to focus on the detailing of the venue, for example.

These images can then be submitted to magazines, newspapers and blogs to try and secure some free media coverage for your business.

Someone taking a photo on their phone
Photo: Getty Images

5. Stay in contact
Nurture your mailing list and keep in touch with your audience via newsletters. Using your database/email list to send your contacts newsletters or e-shots is an inexpensive way to stay ‘front of mind’. Maintaining communication with your customers will remind them that you are still there following the pandemic. It will reassure them and could lead to repeat business or referrals. Digital marketing is a well accepted, low cost, high return marketing strategy which can be measured.

You could share some useful advice such as how venues can create the perfect backdrop for a wedding or event; it helps to spark the imagination. Know your target audience well so that you market to the right people rather than trying to market to everyone, which is costly.

6. Review your marketing
Data is key. Review your Google Analytics data to better understand your customer so that your marketing can be targeted correctly. Look objectively at where you have been spending your marketing budget and analyse the return you have been getting. Determine which activities have worked and those that have not, so you know what to focus on – for example, SEO, Facebook advertising, print advertising etc.

Focus on your existing customers now and they will remember and reward you later. Have you asked your customers for recommendations and reviews?

Can you diversify the business? Do you need to adapt and/or pivot? Examine your costs and expenses and see whether you can negotiate better deals with your suppliers and service providers.

7. Examine your branding
It is vital to build and maintain your brand. Your brand is so much more than your logo, it’s the whole experience; an overall strategy that encapsulates, among other aspects, your mission statement, company culture, customer service, tone of voice, website, messages on social media, visuals, as well as your logo.

Does anything need to be amended for your target audience/ideal client? A strong brand promotes recognition, helps set you apart from the competition, tells people about your business DNA, generates referrals and provides your business value.

8. Consumer conscience
As a result of this pandemic, consumers are being more considered with their purchasing choices. Convey what your business stands for, whether that’s how you treat your staff, how you give back, how your venue is environmentally friendly, etc.

Many businesses have been donating to charities and worthy causes during the pandemic. Communicate with your customers what contributions you are making and how you try to make a difference. They will remember your gestures and have a greater appreciation of your business ethos.

9. Messaging
Look at your messaging. Is it positive and uplifting? Does it inspire hope? Inspire and motivate your audience with inspirational quotes, for example.

The pandemic has made us yearn for personal, meaningful gestures in all aspects of life and deep gratitude towards our families and close friends. Lockdown will have had plenty of engagements and pregnancies being announced. Special milestone moments are also occurring, so venues may want to focus their messaging on love and family.

This pandemic will thankfully not last forever so businesses must think ahead and be prepared. It’s important to stay the course with your marketing, even if budgets have been reduced, and continue to remain visible to your valued customers.

Man posing with hashtag symbol
Photo: Getty Images

About the Author
Vaishali Shah is the founder and creative director of Creative ID. 020 7242 1877, info@creative-id.com, www.creative-id.com

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