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Advertising your small business can be a difficult proposition. Faced with limited funds, small business owners tend to gravitate toward saving budget and focusing on face-to-face interactions to spread the word about their products and services. While these interactions are undoubtedly important for businesses in any industry, they are not enough to allow your business to grow and prosper.

Fortunately, there’s a solution! Small business advertising doesn’t have to be expensive, so here are 3 ways to get the most out of it without breaking the bank.

1. Integrate Your Message

The first tip requires nothing but strategic thought. Especially among small businesses, advertising tends to be a spur-of-the-moment decision. A local paper offers ad space, you can sponsor a small event, or other opportunities pop up. When that happens, it’s easy to fall into the trap of simply creating a quick ad or logo that fits the specific opportunity.

Unfortunately, that also means you lose one crucial aspect of any successful marketing effort: message consistency.

The importance of marketing message consistency cannot be overstated. Just imagine being a member of your target audience who comes across the aforementioned ads in the local paper and at a local concert. You may even stumble across the business on social media. If the messages presented on each of these outlets are not consistent and don’t present a unified identity, they will not last in your memory. In fact, you may not even realize they come from the same business.

If, on the other hand, they present a unified brand identity, you’ll be significantly more likely to turn from a curious consumer into a customer.

Don’t just take our word for it, though. While studies differ on just how many times a consumer has to come across your business in order to buy from you, they all agree that it takes more than one and at least 3. And they’ll only count if these touches all make sense together and promote the same core message, which is why consistency is so important.

2. Follow Your Leads

Another way to maximize your marketing dollars is to subscribe to the inbound marketing philosophy. Industry leader HubSpot defines inbound marketing as “creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be.”

In other words, marketers engaging in inbound marketing move away from the traditional (and expensive) “push” strategies of getting the word out, instead engaging in efforts that “pull” their potential customers onto their website.

Once they’re there, you can turn them into leads by offering the above-mentioned quality content only in exchange for some basic contact information. And once anonymous visitors become identified leads, you can use emails and other free methods to nurture them toward becoming sales-ready.

We won’t go into details on the concept on this blog, but business owners should know that inbound marketing significantly increases your marketing ROI, making it perfect for small businesses on a tight budget.

3. Create Loyalty

As a small business owner, it’s easy to fall into the trap of prioritizing the acquisition of new customers above all else. But in reality, making sure that your existing customers remain loyal is just as, if not even more important.

As it turns out, businesses whose customer base consists of 40% repeat customers generate 47% more revenue than those who could only count on 10% repeat customers. That’s because repeat customers spend 67% more than new customers, while a 5% increase in customer retention on average improves your profitability by 75%.

Of course, we’re insurance specialists, not marketing experts, but we’ve been in the business long enough to know that business growth typically precedes the need for insurance. Optimizing your advertising as a small business does not necessarily mean increasing your spending. Integrating your message, generating and following your leads, and shifting gears to focus more on customer retention will not increase your budget, and it can significantly increase your return on investment.