In Nigeria’s current economic recession, big advertising budgets and million-naira marketing campaigns are not for the financially fainthearted. It follows then that small and medium-scale businesses are likely to lose visibility as bigger businesses spend far bigger budgets on marketing.

But it’s not a hopeless situation. Even though it may appear that the typical SME cannot thrive in a market dominated by deep-pocketed competitors, there are ways to attract a fairly steady stream of customers without emptying your business account.

These five tips will help you get started with marketing on a budget.

1. Leverage relationships

This is the time to talk to your friends and family about what you do even if you have done so countless times before. Letting them know that you’d appreciate referrals, even offering incentives for them to do so, could bring you your next business breakthrough. Also, go through your business card collection and your phone contacts to see who may need your services. Don’t be afraid to call people you’ve never spoken to before or send out emails soliciting for business. Everyone is doing it and it works.


2. Sidestep PR agencies

PR firms are good for what they’re good for, but it’s unwise to add their fees to your expenditure when you’re cash-strapped. Instead, call or email media outlets such as newspapers and blogs yourself to get the best deals. Direct ad placement cuts out the middleman and saves you money.


3. Create a referral scheme

Your current customers have friends and their friends also have friends. Offering them a cash reward on each new customer they introduce to you can turn them into your evangelists. What harm could it do anyway? You won’t spend any money until they make money for you.


4. List your business on Google

It’s free, and there’s no cheaper way to get your business on the most visited website in the world. List your business name, phone number, address and opening hours here now.


5. Add your business to local directories

Like listing your business on Google, it’s usually free to add your business to local directories such as VConnect. A website is good for your business but if you don’t have one yet, this is another way to be found online. Besides, every opportunity to be seen by potential customers should be taken.


Editor’s Note: MARGIN is a support platform and community designed by Venia Business Hub to help Nigerian entrepreneurs grow profitable businesses. You can get more free business resources and practical advice on their site.


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