Digital Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

Promoting your goods and services to potential customers is at the heart of running any successful business. And to advertise your brand in the modern world means diving into the world of digital marketing – i.e. online promotion activity for your business.

87% of consumers begin their search for a product online, according to recent research. So having an ‘online presence’ is critical if you’re going to engage with prospective customers, create sales leads and generate enquiries for your team to follow up. That means investing in the right tools, training and marketing expertise, so you can start interacting with customers in the digital space – a move that can start to get expensive!

But what if money is tight at present, and staff resources are low? How can you create successful digital marketing on a shoestring budget?

Economical ways to drive your digital marketing

Digital marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. Yes, large businesses do spend millions on targeted digital campaigns, search engine optimisation (SEO) and above-the-line advertising. But you can also achieve great results without the big budgets.

Ultimately, simple digital marketing requires three very basic things:

  1. A company website – whether it’s a full-blown WordPress website or a basic Facebook Business page, you need an online hub to act as your company’s shop window.
  2. Good SEO – if people are going to find your new product page, or read your company blog, you need good SEO to ensure you feature in the top search results.
  3. A social media presence – people buy from people and your company social media accounts are an amazing way to interact with prospects and generate followers.

For many small businesses, this is all you need to kickstart your digital marketing and to start tentatively reaching out into the online market. But with a little work and smart planning, you can expand on your digital activity without running up a huge marketing bill.

Here are some economical ways to improve the return on your digital marketing:

  • Review and improve your website – is your site easy to navigate? Does it provide visitors with the information they need? Is it clear what you want people to do on each page? This ‘call-to-action’ must be clear so people click through to your contact page, blog, shopping cart, or appointment booking page. The more effective you make your site, the greater the chances are that it will generate leads, followers and paying customers.
  • Think about SEO and keywords – it’s vital that you use keywords and search terms in your online content that match what your customers are searching for. If you’re selling premium running shoes, for example, the keyword ‘running shoes’ should appear in your blog titles, your page metadata (the text embedded in the page that you don’t see) and in the body text of your landing pages and home page etc.
  • Claim your Google listing – let’s be honest, most of us use Google as our search engine of choice. So, if you’re going to capitalise on this, you need to own your Google listing so prospective customers can find you and know the important details about the business. Make sure your opening hours and contact details are correct, turn on reviews and encourage happy customers to post one – nothing beats good feedback!
  • Feature in relevant directories and groups – Are there other consumer, trade or sector-specific directories you should be on? Often this is just a matter of making sure you’ve sent in the right information, so look for the most relevant directories and make sure you’re listed, with all the correct contact information and online links.
  • Get proactive with your social media – if your customers are on social media then make sure you’re on social platforms too. Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram are all free to set up and give you a platform for interacting with followers, sharing content and company news and generating interest in your brand and products/services. To learn how to make the most of your social media marketing, we recommend Jodine McIntyre from Social Smarty.
  • Post great content and advice – content marketing can be extremely powerful – and won’t cost you a fortune. Publishing blogs, newsletters, news articles and helpful advice through your website helps to position your brand in the market and generate interest. You don’t have to publish something every week, but do try to keep content regular, useful and engaging. Think about creating short guides that relate to the product or service you offer. If people find it valuable, it will do wonders for your ranking on Google!
  • Start making smart use of video – Video can be an amazing way to communicate with your audience, and all you need to get started is your smartphone. Most modern phones are capable of recording high-quality video and audio, so there’s nothing to stop you posting your own vlogs or creating a YouTube channel to share video tutorials, opinion pieces or product overviews. You could even try doing a Facebook live event and broadcasting live to your customer base to add something new and interesting to your marketing mix and campaign content.

Protect yourself with Patents and Trade Marks

If you’ve got a new invention, are launching a brand or marketing a new stream of business, it’s important to consider whether you need a patent or trade mark. Both take at least six months to process in New Zealand, so the sooner you do your homework, the better.

  • A patent is granted for an invention. It can be a new product or process, the material it is made from, or how something is made.
  • A trade mark protects your name, logo or brand. It can be a word, phrase, number, symbol, logo, colour, label, shape, or even a sound or smell, provided the mark can be represented graphically.

What are the benefits of a patent?

  • It gives you a legal right to stop others from making, using, or selling something you have invented.
  • Your invention is protected in New Zealand for up to 20 years.

Applying for a patent?

Be careful about revealing details of your invention to other people before you have filed your application: doing this may cause your application to be declined.

What are the benefits of a trade mark?

  • Trade mark registration is the easiest and most effective way to stop others from using your trade mark (or one similar to it).
  • Details of trade mark registrations are publicly available on a searchable database so competitors considering adopting a mark like yours will be put off.
  • You have the exclusive right to use the trade mark throughout New Zealand to promote the goods and/or services it covers for up to 10 years.
  • You can use the ® symbol with the trade mark.
  • You can sell or assign the trade mark to another person or business, or license its use to other parties.
  • It enhances the value of your business, i.e.: if you plan on selling your business, buyers will be interested in your IP assets.

Before you do anything, check to see if a trade mark or logo like yours is already on the NZ Register, at

If you need protection in other countries as well as New Zealand, talk to an IP lawyer. They do extensive searches of brand names across all relevant categories, advise on similar companies and can tell you whether your application is likely to be accepted.

Facebook: Why your business needs it (and how to use it!)

Are your ideal customers adults? Then your business needs to be on Facebook because that’s where their eyeballs are.

Time-poor or don’t have a clue where to start? Get some answers with these six most frequently asked questions.

85% of Kiwi adults are on Facebook and using it for at least 30-minutes every day.

1. Why should my business be on Facebook?

Facebook is the most cost effective way to promote your small business right now. It’s basically ‘word of mouth’ on steroids. It’s your chance to tell more people about your services and how you can help them – bringing in more enquiries more often.

2. How much do I need to spend?

You can start small by spending $100 a month on Facebook advertising to boost the number of people who see your posts and set up targeted marketing campaigns. Or just post engaging content regularly, which doesn’t cost a thing.

3. Do I need a Facebook expert or can I do it in-house?

If you don’t have the budget to spare to pay someone to do it for you, do it in-house. Find someone within your business who wants to take ownership of it and get them trained in Facebook Ad Manager. Facebook content needs to come from the beating heart of the business so make sure the person looking after it knows the business, your voice and your customers. But remember, they’ll still need you to be involved to make it authentic. You, and your team, need to appear in the content and help create it.

“Just start posting.”

4. My budget is small, what’s something effective I can do myself?

“Just start posting. The secret to social media marketing is consistency,” says Auckland digital marketing coach Andrew Ferdinando. “If you’re consistently posting engaging content, your audience will grow. There are people who have created an audience from scratch, with zero advertising budget, because they create engaging content.”

5. But I’m not a writer!

You don’t have to be – try Facebook Live. The live video streaming means you can use your phone to record yourself discussing something related to your industry, products or services and you’re done. It’s a powerful medium that doesn’t have to be polished.

6. When will I start to see traction on Facebook?

Look at your Facebook results over a 12 month period – not per campaign or post. “It’s not like a print or magazine advert – the benefit comes from long term content,” says Andrew Ferdinando. “You can get fantastic value from Facebook if you post consistently good content throughout the year.”

If you would like to find out more about Facebook and social media training, contact Jodine McIntyre from Social Smarty: