In recent weeks, I’ve had several conversations with people who want to know where they should spend their limited marketing budget.
These folks know they need to market their business, but they are short
on staff, resources and budget. If you’re a startup, non-profit or if sales are down at your company, I’m betting this sounds familiar.
So, what do you do when you have limited time and resources to market your business?
What are the most cost effective ways to get the word out about your brand?
Marketing Your Business on A Limited Budget
Whatever you do, don’t ignore marketing altogether. Instead, focus on a few areas that offer a bigger bang for your marketing buck.
If you’re short on time and money, I recommend focusing your marketing efforts on the following areas:
1. Hone in on your brand positioning.
Before you spend any additional money on marketing, it makes sense to build a strong brand foundation first.
Yes, that means you need a cohesive visual identity in the form a logo, website and other materials.
But more importantly, you need a strong brand message. You must identify your core values as a company and what makes your company stand out from the competition. Once you do that, you can build messaging that will resonate with your target customer.
2. Focus on existing customers.
It’s important to make sure you keep your clients happy so they continue to buy from you and don’t take their business elsewhere.
In particular, you should look for ways you can serve customers better. A great way to do this is through a digital survey or calling your customers to talk to them. Ask what they like and don’t like about your business so you can find ways to improve your services.
Once you do that, it’s important to put that feedback to action. After all, fixing problems and improving the quality of your services will go a long way toward keeping customers and attracting new ones.
By conducting some customer research, you can also uncover some potential opportunities to expand your service offerings or sell a product or service customers aren’t using.
3. Build a referral program.
Word of mouth referrals is often the number one source of business for many companies. And yet, referral marketing is completely ignored.
If you have happy, satisfied customers and a strong network of colleagues, it only makes sense to focus on securing recommendations and referrals from these groups.
In fact, Stan and I just discussed how to get more referrals on a recent episode of The Marketing Huddle. Although there aren’t any silver bullets in marketing, referral marketing might be the closest thing.
Think about how you can encourage and reward your existing clients and contacts to tell others about you. Not only is it incredibly cost effective, but it works really well too.
4. Optimize your efforts — especially your website.
Far too often, companies want to expand their marketing efforts without looking for ways to optimize what they’re already doing.
One of the first places to look for optimization opportunities is your website.
Many websites are leaky buckets that constantly lose visitors. It’s important to find and patch up the holes on your website so you can retain visitors and convert them to subscribers, leads and customers.
This is a big topic that could require its own blog post, but here are some basic ideas to optimize your website:
- Improve calls-to-action (CTAs). If you want to convert visitors to leads and customers, make sure you have prominent CTAs. Always ask yourself — “what do you want the visitor to do?” Then build the appropriate CTAs on your site to drive that behavior.
- Make it mobile-friendly. More and more people are viewing websites on their mobile device. A responsive design that looks good on every device will help you retain visitors better.
- Focus on SEO. Optimizing your site for search engines will help people find your site when they are looking for information.
In addition to your website, you should also take a look at all of your marketing initiatives and find opportunities to improve them. For instance, if you have an email marketing effort in place, what can you do to increase click-through-rates or grow the size of your list?
Test out different approaches to see if you can improve the results for work you’re already doing.
5. Invest more in what’s working.
If there’s a marketing effort that’s performing particularly well for you, shift your budget to focus more on this area. This sounds like a no-brainer, but often this idea gets missed in favor of chasing shiny new marketing tactics.
For instance, if your Google Adwords campaign is generating some positive results for you, double down on that effort and invest more of your budget there. Or, if you find that more of your website traffic is coming from LinkedIn than Facebook, focus your attention there.
Make sure you’re regularly reviewing your analytics so you can focus more of your time and budget on the areas that will have the biggest impact.
One Thing You Shouldn’t Do When Your Marketing Budget is Tight
When budgets are tight, marketing is often one of the first line items on the chopping block.
However, resist the temptation to cut your marketing budget too far. When you do that, you reduce your ability to generate more leads for your pipeline down the road. It might seem harmless to cut your marketing efforts now, but you’ll feel the results of those marketing cuts in six to 12 months.
In fact, studies show that companies who faired best after economic downturns were those that invested in marketing during the slump. Because those companies invested in marketing when others pulled back, they were able to increase awareness, market share and ultimately sales.
While there might be realities of limited cash available to invest in marketing, just make sure you don’t pull the plug entirely. Find ways to continue to focus on marketing — or you’ll be paying for it later.
How do you market your business when budgets are tight?