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When budgets are tight, it’s very tempting to cut back on certain spending like marketing and see it as a cost not a benefit. In fact, the more marketing you do in tough times, the better your business will develop – and it can be very cost-effective.

Marketing is often seen as a cost rather than a benefit so, when the purse strings get pulled a little tighter, it’s often the first thing to get cut.
But it’s really false economy as you are no longer appealing as much to the very people you need to reach.

Indeed, reaching your target audience in this day and age is remarkably simple and needn’t stretch your budget too much either.

Here are 10 simple marketing strategies you can do use when things get tough…

Network
This will cost you time rather than money. Attend events, trade shows and launches – or stage your own – so you get to know your suppliers and your customers. Knowing the right people is what business is all about.

Get community-minded
You don’t have to think big when it comes to your marketing efforts. Think locally. What’s going on in your local area or with your customers? Can you sponsor a local team – maybe offer some tackle for prizes at an event or bait to a fishing team. This can generate a powerful message for you.

Be the expert
Public speaking may not be for everyone but news outlets, radio and TV are always looking for ‘experts’ on a subject. If you know about the local fishing waters or have some tricks, offer your expertise. Not only does it give you credibility among suppliers and customers but you’ll reach a new audience too.

Create a buzz
Add some insights onto your website or offer a column to your local paper/blog/YouTube channel. Tell them about your business, its history and your plans. In this day and age, everyone is looking for ‘news’ 24/7.

Build relationships
It is a lot less expensive to keep a customer than it is to get a new one, so keep your customers happy – ask them for their email addresses so you can keep in touch and send them offers, news of product launches or just tips and tricks to help their sport.

Get their attention
The average attention span of an adult is about six to eight seconds. That’s all the time you have to grab someone’s attention.
If you successfully engage them, you only have a little over a minute to really sell them on your product or service. Invest the time to craft a killer pitch. The return will help create new business opportunities.

Work with others
Gather a group of like-minded, non-competitive businesses in your area and agree to cross-promote. You can use coupons, flyers, reciprocal website links, bundled promotions or even social media platforms. You’ll all expand your customer base as a result.

Get referred
Don’t be shy about asking for customer referrals. Most people say they are willing to provide a referral if asked but few will take the initiative to do it on their own. Referrals make it easier to get in the door with new customers. If you aren’t asking for them, you are missing opportunities.

Vouchers and coupons
These are a great way to attract new customers. People will go out of their way to use a coupon, which means it’s another method of expanding your customer base. Coupons can also generate return visits. For example, if you give a customer a coupon for a discount to use on future business, there’s a high probability they’ll be back.

Give it away
It may seem counter-intuitive when you are trying to save money but giving someone the chance to find out about a product or service will encourage them to buy more.
Don’t be afraid to give someone a free trial or sample. Nowadays people are more comfortable buying something they have been able to experience first.