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6th April 2010

Marketing on a shoestring



Many SMEs still regard marketing as an expensive evil but you can’t afford not to get the word out about your business and it needn’t cost you the earth, writes Douglas Dalby.


You’ve got a great product. You provide a great service. The problem is not enough people know you even exist!


It’s easy to understand why many owners of small companies wince when they hear the word ‘marketing’ – when money’s too tight to mention, advertising is often considered a luxury.  This is, of course, a huge mistake - if you don’t expand your customer base, your business will suffer.

Know your audience

Small companies, particularly start-ups, can’t afford a scattergun approach - when it comes to marketing, targeting is vital. For example, if you are a corner grocery shop a simple leaflet drop in your local area will likely be of more benefit than a display ad in a national newspaper.

Derek Hennessy runs KND Construction, a small building firm in Dublin. He scans notices of successful planning applications for renovations and extensions and writes to the applicants directly to make them aware of his services, providing local referees to vouch for his bona fides.

“I have found this to be the most effective form of marketing for my company over the years,” he said. “There’s no point wasting time and money pitching to people who aren’t considering getting work done.”


Like other aspects of running a business, marketing needs time and effort. Once you’ve decided on your target audience and the best way to reach it, the goal of any marketing campaign should be to bring in more money than it costs to run.

Very few smaller companies are in a position to outsource their marketing, so it is up to you. Keep at it: chances are you won’t experience success overnight but you will enjoy increased sales as awareness of your business grows.

Reaching a mass audience

The Internet is a wonderful marketing tool but only if you know how to use it properly - there is no point putting energy into a site nobody will ever find and into content nobody will ever read.

“There has never been a more cost-effective time to get the word out about your business – the Internet makes it possible for even the smallest company to compete effectively against those with far bigger marketing budgets,” said Margaret E Ward, founder of Clear Ink, a consultancy that specialises in writing, editing and training for organisations including financial services companies, law firms and government departments. “But you have to be savvy and spend a lot of time on keywords to make sure your site bubbles to the top of the search engines.”

And you also have to make sure your site has maximum impact when it comes to putting your business across.


Mission statement

“Your delivery has to be spot on – concise, well-written and to the point - people scan a page quickly and once you’ve got them, your message has to hit them between the eyes,” Ward said. “It may seem obvious but you should have an ‘elevator pitch’ – a concise, easily understood description of what your business is all about.”


Relevant Links:


Emer Jameson said
24th May 2011

Could not agree more with the comments above, from an online perspective we at are delighted to list all businesses in Ireland free of charge on our website so do log onto our site or contact us on 01 6460200 and we will ensure we have you listed.

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