Marketing budgets across the board are expected to rise at an average rate of 8.9 percent in 2018. For many smaller businesses, the thought of such a significant increase is pure fantasy. Whether it’s increasing global competition, the continued migration towards online spending or the rise in costs such as wages, thousands of companies are feeling the squeeze more than ever. In five US states – Nevada, Mississippi, Arizona, Wyoming, and Connecticut – gross domestic product still hasn’t recovered to levels seen before the financial crisis over a decade ago. One obvious solution to overcome such a hump in the road is to try to cut back on costs. When cost-cutting is involved, marketing budgets are almost always the first part of a business to take a hit. Taking such action, however, leaves you at risk of falling behind your competitors. An inability to attract new customers can quickly see that hump develop into a full-scale vertical cliff. So, what’s the solution? The first thing to realize is that marketing is an investment – not an expense. The aim of a successful marketing strategy is to turn a dollar into something greater. Reducing your marketing spend doesn’t have to be the end of the world; it means you need to make your leftover marketing spend work that much harder. And we’re going to show you how.
Turn Your Marketing Material Digital
Times are changing. Research shows that consumers now do most of their information gathering online. Any money spent on print to improve your online presence is therefore akin to throwing it down a partially blocked drain. Most importantly, turning digital will help you to reduce your outlay. Both printing and postage costs continue to rise year on year, making them increasingly expensive options for small to medium-sized businesses. Digital marketing has now evolved to the point where it has become the value of money option for most. The added benefit of analytics allows you to see how well or poorly your marketing material is performing, which can help to reduce unnecessary expenditure in itself. Perhaps the greatest example of the benefits of digital in comparison to print comes in the form of a company brochure. Easy to use online tools, such as Flipsnack, are allowing businesses to create beautifully designed brochures with pages that turn like a book in under an hour. These can be sent via email for free and include analytics to allow a business to track how a customer interacts with certain pages. It’s certainly a far cry from the expensive “send and hope” reality of print brochures.
Re-purpose as Much Marketing Material as Possible
Every time you come up with a marketing strategy, you’re required to create some type of visual or written content to help bring your ideas to life. It’s a lot of work. Asking for a continuing cycle of creative material from yourself or your workforce is only going to lead to one thing: burnout. Think of it as applying a layer of varnish to an old wooden dressing table. Take the social media example we touched upon earlier: The character limited headline – if you’re linking to a blog post, don’t be afraid to just reuse the headline from the piece. Find a picture – continually having to find high-quality, free-to-use images is time-consuming. Why not use images that you’ve used before but with a slight twist? Try inverting the colors, flipping the image, creating a border, etc. Keep your used images in some sort of date order when you’re storing them. Reusing an image from 12 months ago is less likely to be noticed than one from 12 hours ago. Create a call to action – realistically, there’s only so many ways you can say “Buy me”. Look online at examples of effective call to actions examples and create a stock list of the ones that you think would work well with your brand. Blog posts – certain blog posts hit home more than others. These are the ones that have twice as many shares, likes, and comments compared to your normal content. They’re usually a key driving force behind organic web traffic, so it’s your job to keep them up to date. Every time you do this, don’t be afraid to re-share them across your social channels. If your users loved them the first time around, they’ll be more than happy to see them again with updated content.
Look Into Outsourcing
A successful marketing strategy in the 21st century requires a whole number of different skill sets. There’s the strategists, researchers, coders, designers, writers, SEO specialists, and data analysts to name just a few. Having an in-house workforce that covers all of those niche areas is likely to be expensive. Very expensive. Thanks to the emergence of online freelancing platforms, however, outsourcing is becoming a much more attractive option for most small to medium-sized businesses. Taking this approach allows you to pick and choose the resources you really need. Even more importantly, however, it should help you to deliver better content – something which should help you to achieve your end goal.
One downside to outsourcing is knowing how much or how little you should be paying. It’s difficult, for example, to estimate the value of someone who is able to boost one of your Facebook posts to a more relevant audience. The only way around the issue is to do some market research. Look at what other businesses are willing to pay for certain jobs. Every freelancer will have some form of a profile or website. Look at their past work and try to determine if meets the sort of standards that you expect. Freelancers from developing countries generally charge at a lower rate.
Quickly Forget About What Isn’t Working
Source: Max Pixel Where a marketing budget is distributed evenly among multiple campaigns, it’s easy to pick out what’s working and what isn’t. This is especially true if all of your marketing is done online. Don’t keep on chucking your money at something if it isn’t delivering results. This can be a tough pill to swallow if it’s a campaign you’re particularly proud of, but there’s no room for sentiment when money is tight. Keep in mind that some strategies, such as SEO, can take time to yield results. Google, for example, might only trawl through your website once every couple of weeks, so any investment you’ve made in this area might take a while to show up in search results.
Always Target Your Audience
For a marketing strategy to deliver a return on interest, it needs to be delivered to the right audience. One common mistake plenty of newcomers to digital marketing make is to try to make their ads seen and heard by as many people as possible. Taking this approach could work for a product or service with a very broad appeal such as an offer from an internet service provider. In most cases, however, you’ll make your money go further if you target each of your ads to their intended audience. You can tailor ads across nearly every social media platform to target specific regions, demographics, and interests. Doing so gives you the greatest chance of generating traction with your ads through clicks. It’s common sense, but an ad that resonates with a reader is far more likely to result in a positive response.
Will is the Executive Managing Editor at Feedster. Will and his team from Content HOW work with venture capital, marketing co-ops, and companies to attract and gain qualified leads.
His primary focus on developing a sales funnel for a company and finding out of the box / growth hacking style ways to convert and drive traffic.