Let’s face it: the marketing budget is often the last to be approved and the first to be robbed. If you’re scrambling to find effective ways to show positive results with a paltry budget, these 10 do’s and don’ts can help you make your marketing dollars last longer and have a greater impact.
First, The Don’ts
- Don’t Deviate From The Plan
Once you’ve set goals and established a budget, narrow your focus. Don’t waste time or money on fragmented tactics or costly one-offs. Instead, keep track of trends and marketing campaigns that catch your eye and record them. When it’s time to revisit your budget and goals, you’ll have a list of potential ideas to draw from.
Don’t Forget Your Call To Action
We liked this snippet from Entrepreneur Launch Pad:
“Sure, the big guys can afford to bombard the market with brand awareness and wait for the customers to flow in. Small businesses, on the other hand, need to convey a strong call to action for every ad they pay for. Your ads need to contain an offer and clear directions to convert interested customers into buyers… now.”
Make sure you’re putting a clear, concise call-to-action on every piece of advertising you use. That includes exactly how you want your prospects to reach you: either through a phone number, website, or in-person visit. If you want your customers to call you, then you should use unique call tracking numbers on each piece. You could even A/B test your ads with separate call tracking numbers to see which version your prospects respond to more favorably.
- Don’t Just Do What You’ve Always Done
Just because a marketing campaign or advertising medium was effective 10, five, or even one year ago doesn’t mean it will be effective now. For example, just because you used Facebook to promote a wildly popular sale two years ago doesn’t mean you’ll attract the same audience—or get the same response—again. It’s important to be constantly monitoring the phone calls, clicks, response rates, and sale conversion rates you’re received from each of your campaigns. With that information, you’ll be able to determine what is successful in your marketing mix and what needs to be tweaked.
- Don’t Pay For Marketing Tools You Don’t Need
One quick way to cut the slack from your marketing budget is to stop paying for tools that don’t really help you. While a $17 dollar subscription doesn’t seem like much at first glance, they add up quickly. If you’re not really using the tools (or not using them to their full potential), then you may want to consider getting rid of them or finding a cheaper (or free) alternative. Buffer recently shared an article on 29 free marketing tools you can use in place of paid versions—check it out, and see if you can reclaim part of your budget.
Next, The Do’s
- Do Measure Everything
Want to know the most effective way to stretch your marketing dollars? Get proof about what is working in your favor and what you’re wasting time and resources on. By gathering unbiased data that results from each of your marketing tactics, you can begin to get a better idea of how much return your marketing dollars are giving you. No matter how you market—online, through out-of-home advertising, in the yellow pages, on your website, or via direct mail—you can track the results.
- If you conduct business or sell online, you’ll gather marketing performance metrics using website analytics (Google Analytics is a good example of this).
- If you conduct business over the phone, you’ll use call measurement analytics. There are also hybrids that show you how well your website advertising converted to an over-the-phone sale or appointment.
- You can gather and crunch your own numbers through spreadsheets, or hire a professional partner to collect and analyze trends in the data for you.
- Do Take Inventory Of Content Across Your Organization
Remember the brochure your team made a few months ago for the finance team to take with them to their annual conference? What about the sales info you put together for the sales team last quarter? Your company likely has created a lot of content that you can repurpose and reuse instead of spending more time (and money) to create brand new content.
This article has several good suggestions regarding content inventories that we found interesting, including these four tips:
- Track your company’s content through every department.
- Think about ways to turn less-interesting content into useful content people want to consume.
- When you’re repurposing content, write in the language your target audience understands.
- Eliminate redundant content creation efforts so you can allocate more resources to content quality.
Do Partner With Complementary Businesses
You can stretch your marketing dollars, improve your reputation, and gain new contacts by partnering with complementary businesses to share marketing costs. You can pick partners based on industry, desired audience, or even store location.
Think strategically about what partnership could benefit you both, and don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. This article provides some ideas of the more obvious joint sales promotions, as well as lesser-known marketing alliances involving shared mailing lists, distribution channels, and suppliers.
- Do Ask Your Customers To Advertise For You
Loyal customers are an asset to your company, and they’re often happy to recommend you to everyone they know—for free! Their testimonials can speak more powerfully than many expensive marketing tactics. Put your satisfied customers to work by asking them to share their experience through word-of-mouth and online review sites. Of course, you also want them to continue to do business with you, so ask them to publicly announce their patronage.
- Do Invest In Marketing Tools That Actually Help You
It’s wise to pay for marketing tools and services that make your job easier, more efficient, and can potentially save you money or protect you from liability. Accounting services, attorneys, call tracking and measurement companies, human resource consultants—each of these can bring more value instead of add expense, which is why it’s important to have a clear sense of what you can and should be spending your time on, and what you should outsource to reliable partners.
Do A Targeted Pilot Campaign First
This smart idea may keep you from making a thousand- or million-dollar mistake:
“Rather than jump into a large-scale national campaign, test the waters with a pilot. Do a small ad campaign, or direct mail push, etc. and track the results after three months. This can then tell you whether you should continue with a full-scale rollout or go another path.”
You can test your pilot pieces’ response rates through data from website analytics and call tracking and ROI numbers to show you exactly how your pilot’s doing. With the information you get from the data, you can make adjustments, grow your campaign, and continue to measure the response you’re getting against your goals.
By measuring your marketing achievements against the goals you’ve set, and by analyzing the data, you’ll be able to see what works and what needs improvement in your marketing budget. Once you have a clear vision of your marketing performance, you’ll be able to spend your marketing dollars on the best outlets for bringing in traffic, leads, and sales.