Taking good care of your brand starts with smart marketing. It’s even better when that marketing is free. When it comes to getting the most bang for your buck with your business’s marketing efforts, it takes some serious creativity and ingenuity to stretch your wallet. Throwing money at high-dollar advertising venues is valuable, but doesn’t provide an automatic customer base, and as it turns out, an investment of your TIME, rather than money, could be your best bet.

The Power of Social Media

Perhaps the most popular form of budget-savvy marketing, social media is a great way to get your name out there without spending a lot of money. “I can’t say enough about the importance of using social media,” says Katina Weaver Walker, owner and founder of KDW Apparel, a Pilates, yoga and athleisure-wear line based in Los Angeles. “Social media has been our friend since we started our company and we use these platforms, primarily Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, to stretch our dollars. Using these free platforms has expanded not only our followers, but our customer base and presence globally.”

Agreeing with Walker on using the power of social media as free marketing, Danielle Munley, co-founder of Sorella Apothecary, a botanically-based skincare line that officially launched only last year, states that having a charming Instagram and Facebook page is crucial, and seemingly underrated, in the industry. An important part of her marketing strategy has been incorporating beautiful photos that speak to the products’ message. And beautiful photos attract attention on social media. According to a recent study from BuzzSumo that looked at over 100 million Facebook updates over three months, updates with images had an amazing 2.3 times more engagement than those without. Plus, according to a recent Buffer survey, Tweets with images are 150 percent more likely to be retweeted. That engagement is paramount to sales success and it all starts with great imagery.

“This form of marketing will let your audience see your personal side,” adds Brenda Kocak, president of Modern Male Spas. “Use organic material, keep it simple and keep it real.” Kocak also notes that to be successful on social media, you must be consistent. She suggests posting regularly with both your own content and interesting content from other relevant sources like beauty bloggers, industry publications and more. As much as social media is great for pushing your product or service, don’t only use your account to toot your own horn. “Consumers will get bored if you only share photos of your product,” Munley adds. “Think outside the box!”

Constant Content

Getting your name out there is important, but to stay top of mind to your customers, you must constantly be there. Putting out a steady stream of content, whether on your company’s blog and social media accounts or in industry publications or events, will help potential customers know who you are and eventually want to work with you. “Build a calendar,” suggests Kocak. “Include everything from email newsletters to blog and social media posts. This will hold you accountable and keep your content regular so you’re always on your customers’ minds.” Because Sorella is a brand-new company, Munley is also constantly trying to keep her brand at the top of people’s minds.

“We jump at the chance to do a free product spotlight in industry magazines, to write articles or to teach classes on what we do,” Munley says. “We are open to sharing tips and tricks that we’ve learned along the way to help others’ success, and this helps get our name out there without costing us a lot of money.” Munley also adds that getting involved in the community or industry outlets will help get your name out there and offer opportunities to share your ideas, product, service or knowledge with the right people. Many times, these opportunities only cost a little of your time, but the payout can be huge for your brand.

“Write an article for a magazine, offer to speak at an industry event and get to know your local spa professionals or companies,” adds Munley. “We are often surprised at how many wonderful companies are local to our area and how we can help each other grow and network.”

Rising Tides Raise All Ships

Speaking of working well with others, another tip for spa leaders looking to stretch their marketing money is to partner with similar companies offering complimentary services to expand both of your client bases. Saltability founder Ann Brown says that focusing on grassroots efforts, capitalizing on word-of-mouth advertising and networking prove the most effective when it comes to marketing. “I believe the best way to educate prospective clients on what we do is to let them hear from spas we work with,” says Brown. “Our current clientele’s satisfaction is of the utmost importance to me, and their testimonials are our
best marketing assets.”

Use and build your network to stretch your marketing budget. The more you do for others, the more that will come back to you. “Working with Bon Vital at a show or representing the Langham NYC at the ISPA Media Event is an example,” Brown says. “By helping them to be successful, Saltability is also successful. We do more together!” To have a successful outcome for both parties, you must be honest and forthcoming about what you want out of a partnership and what you can give.

"Negotiate for the best value in  marketing,” adds Brown. “Think about how you can create win-win situations where you add value for your partner and accomplish your marketing goals.”

Reuse and Recycle

Recycling isn’t just great for the environment, it also does wonders for your marketing budget. Walker explains that getting creative when budgets are tight is essential, such as taking a main theme or message from a previous campaign, like a favorite photo, and copying and enhancing it to make it look brand new. “If something has worked in the past, for instance an ad campaign that has given us great feedback and results, we will keep it or recycle and use it again,” says Walker. “If it’s not broke, then don’t try to fix it. For example, don’t try to replace an ad or campaign promotion just because you’re bored if it’s proven effective.”

This tactic not only helps cut costs, but it also alleviates stress and saves time to work on other ongoing projects. Munley agrees by saying, “We are able to save money by using the same photos for ads, social media campaigns and website product photos.” Munley also reuses her team’s talents to both save money on hiring outside professionals and allow her employees to stretch their wings and explore their passions.

“We saw a strong design talent in some of our team members and were able to have them whip up some beautiful ads without having to contract the work out. Sometimes it saves to have a do-it-yourself mentality, and to also pay attention to the strengths of your core team.”