Almost every business in Australia, regardless of their size, has been forced to review, optimise or change the way they do business this year. Many have been forced to cut costs to avoid a red bottom line.

Experience has taught us that when tough financial times hit, it’s often the marketing department that sees the first round of budget cuts and marketing strategies for small business get sidelined.

But it’s so important right now to keep marketing your business and keep your brand in people’s minds, even if budget cuts mean you have to DIY your marketing activities. This will ensure your best chance to line up a steady flow of work once purse strings relax across our business community.

If your background isn’t in marketing, a DIY approach to much-needed marketing activities might seem daunting. You might be wondering if you’re doing the right thing, or if you’re wasting your time.

If you find yourself in this position, the good news is, you don’t have to start from scratch.

If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and put in the work, know that it’s OK to steal, borrow and cheat your way to the top. It’s OK to harness the experience of top marketers while you’ve got a tiny marketing budget.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking inspiration from your competitors, peers and other businesses you admire. So long as you’re not copying your competitors in a way that you wouldn’t want them to copy you, you’re fine. That’s a great benchmark to keep in mind when spying on your competitors while looking for inspiration for a DIY marketing campaign.

So let’s get to it! Here are a few ways you steal, borrow and cheat your way to DIY marketing success.

1. Audit your competitors

A competitor audit takes a close look at how your competitors are positioned and how they market their business. It also looks at what they’re doing well, inspiring you with ideas for how you can improve your online presence.

Identify your competitors

Identify 3-5 of your strongest competitors. List the company names in a spreadsheet and add their website URL.

Identify their USP

Look at their home page and identify their unique selling point (USP), which is one of the key elements of any brand story. You might need to check your competitor’s About page or visit their sales pages to work out what their USP is. Add their USP to the audit spreadsheet.

If their USP isn’t immediately obvious, it means they’re not clear on what they’re offering and who they’re offering it to.

Is your USP obvious? How do you compare to your competitors? Is there a different way you can position your business to better highlight your USP to give you that competitive edge?

Check their social media profiles

Start with LinkedIn, a very popular platform for B2B marketing and sales.

Check their company profile on LinkedIn. Add their profile website address to the spreadsheet.

How many followers do they have?

Note whether they are using their LinkedIn profile to promote their business and how much engagement their posts have. Add this detail to the audit spreadsheet.

Check their social media channels and list them in the spreadsheet. Like you did for the LinkedIn audit, check how many followers they have, note the sort of posts they make, and see what kind of engagement they have.

As a bare minimum, check their profiles on:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

Are they using stories and other features beyond standard posting in a clever way to market themselves? Could you do something similar?

Look for who their leadership team is and add this detail to the spreadsheet. If it’s not immediately obvious from their website, run a Google search for the company name plus ‘owner’ or ‘founder’.

Look for their individual profile on LinkedIn and add their profile link to your spreadsheet.

Check their website for ‘Follow us’ links and see if they’re using other platforms to market their business. If they’re getting traction there, is this somewhere your business should be, too?

Explore their website

Review their website and look for things they’re doing well that you could replicate in your own way. Write down what they’re not doing so well so you can make sure your website or marketing communications aren’t making similar mistakes. Are they employing marketing strategies for small business that you could use in yours?

Key web pages to review include:

  • home page
  • about page
  • product or service sales pages
  • blog or news pages.

You might get inspired to add or highlight a fresh new feature, change the layout of your home page, refresh your about page or overhaul a sales page.

Download our competitor audit spreadsheet

To save you time, we’ve created a template with handy instructions for doing a competitor audit. Grab yours now!

Download the template now

2. Get inspiration from ad campaigns

For this activity, think broader than your immediate competitors and industry. Don’t just look at popular ad campaigns from big brands like Apple or Nike. Choose a brand you use and admire. This could be the brand of bicycle you own, or software you use.

Dive in and ask:

  • What is it about this brand that you admire?
  • Are they authentic? Minimal? Original?
  • What channels do they use to communicate?
  • What’s their tone of voice like?
  • How are they communicating what they do?
  • How do they use words, images and colour to capture your attention?

As a starting point, take a look at this list of 10 B2B businesses with real purpose and see if there are any brands that resonate with you.

While it’s great to be inspired by the marketing campaigns of brands you admire, don’t let what they do dictate your marketing plan. Your marketing activities should always suit your brand story and align with your marketing goals.

3. Check your inbox

Hands up who got at least a dozen promotional emails in their inbox today?

Instead of deleting them all in bulk, take a moment to read each one. You’ll often find marketing strategies for small business lurking in these emails.

Get an idea of the brand’s ecosystem via their promotional emails. What is the call to action in the email? Are they:

  • directing you to their website?
  •  linking to a landing page?
  • encouraging you to sign up for a webinar?
  • asking you to reply via email?
  • sharing a video to watch on their YouTube channel?
  • inviting you to listen to a podcast?
  • suggesting you buy their product or service?

Assess which parts of this process resonate with you. Like the ad campaigns, note how the business communicates their brand in words and text.

Could you take some inspiration from your own inbox and apply it to your marketing plan?

Here’s something you can steal from me: I created a swipe folder in my inbox where I file ‘Interesting emails and ideas’. When I’m ready to brainstorm ideas, I have a collection of top-quality promotional emails to refer to for inspiration.

4. Use templates, guides and marketing expertise

Marketing templates, guides and plans prepared by marketing experts can save you so much time and set you on a path towards DIY marketing success. Use these low-cost tools and benefit from the years of experience experts leverage when they create them.

For the DIY marketer, this option will give you the best return on investment for your time and the dollars you spend.

By following expertly crafted templates, guides and plans, you’ll create an authentic marketing experience for your target market. And you won’t have to do the hard thinking!

The marketing pro takes care of the heavy lifting and sets you up with the processes and techniques you need. You can simply get on with the ‘doing’ part and create the strategic content your business needs.

Use these cost-effective tools to build your brand under the guidance of marketing pros. When you follow their guidance, you’ll create unique content tailored for your brand instead of simply copying something that worked for another brand. This guidance will lead to the best possible results.

The DIY Marketing Project

We created The [DIY] Marketing Project—an online collection of marketing knowledge, systems, strategy and templates—for small B2B business owners who have had to trim their marketing budget but still want to leverage the expertise of a marketing company.

The way we see it: just because you might not be able to afford a marketing agency right now, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have access to their knowledge so you can get it done yourself!

The [DIY] Marketing Project gives you the resources and knowledge you need to take ownership of your brand and marketing at your own pace while knowing that you’re working from a sound foundation.

The path to DIY marketing success

To stay profitable and even grow your business during leaner times, it’s essential to continue to invest in appropriate marketing activities that align with your business goals.

While the need to temporarily trim your marketing budget might mean you become a marketing DIYer, by investing in a program like The [DIY] Marketing Project, you’ll not only reap the benefits of creating and launching exceptional marketing campaigns, you’ll pick up a whole lot of new skills that will serve your business well now and into the future.

With your newfound skills and knowledge, you’ll be in an even better position to get the most out of a future relationship and engagement with a marketing company.

And best of all, future you will thank present you for continuing to market your business to keep the leads flowing your way.

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