December 2, 2015
7 tips to make your marketing budget stretch
While coming up with a great idea is essential in starting a business, you can’t get the ball rolling on that idea without the funding to seed it. When launching a new business, it is imperative that the product or service gains traction in the market. Building the level of awareness that will be sufficient for your business to take-off will inevitably have some degree of financial cost attached to it, however there are many options available that allow you to be creative when it comes to making your marketing budgets stretch. The key is to be informed and to approach budgeting in a systematic and carefully thought out way. The following outlines 7 key things that you should do when planning your marketing strategy to ensure that you get the most ‘bang for your buck’.
First, you need to understand why marketing is important and why it’s a necessary investment for your business. The purpose of marketing is primarily to introduce your brand and your product or service along with it (or vice versa), to build awareness and spark interest among your target market. If your target market isn’t aware of what you have to offer and why they should purchase it, then inevitably there will be no sale and no sale means no profit, and no growth. Once you’ve established your brand, marketing then helps to strengthen the brand image, which can then be leveraged to attract high quality talent, establish strategic partnerships and win the loyalty of your customers.
Next, you should consider the industry in which your business operates, your product or service, and your target market. Marketing is never a case of “one size fits all” and there is no magical formula for successfully gaining market traction. Your marketing strategy will need to take into consideration your target market and where they their information, which will then help you to strategically select the marketing channels that are going to allow you to reach your target market without breaking your budget.
Third, you need to set your marketing objectives. This involves identifying what you want to achieve with your marketing efforts (e.g. brand awareness, lead generation or increase sales), linking it back to your overarching business objectives to ensure This will then be used to gauge the extent of your marketing activities and will help you in selecting the marketing channels to use.
Fourth, determine your marketing budget. The recommended allocation for marketing is usually (reload’s recommended budget here) percent of the company’s previous or projected gross revenue. However, this may or may not be followed depending on current circumstances of the business. When creating a budget, it is important to consider your marketing objectives.
Fifth, know your options. There are various options available for getting your product or brand noticed. This can be done either via traditional channels or through digital channels. There are pros and cons for investing in each of these channels. Choose the channels that will allow the widest market penetration, whilst considering your budget. For small to medium business owners, digital marketing might be the more practical choice as it is more cost-effective and tracking of results is easier.
Traditional channels include:
- Print (i.e. newspapers, magazines, posters, etc.)
- Direct mail (the delivery of marketing communication (i.e. a letter, postcard and coupons) to customers via post)
- Trade shows
- Face to face interaction with customers and prospects
- Telephone interaction with customers and prospects
Digital channels include:
- Web marketing
- E-commerce (selling products online)
- Affiliate marketing (partnering with other businesses to cross-promote each other’s products)
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) (the method of increasing the visibility of your website in search results)
- PPC and banner ads (paid ads that appear on websites and searches)
- Email marketing (communicating with a database of customers and prospects via email)
- Social media marketing (Social media marketing includes blogging and sharing content, and engaging with customers via social media channels)
Sixth, plan your marketing strategy with a corresponding timeline. Having a marketing strategy is important to ensure that your marketing plans are aligned to your overarching business goals. The marketing strategy will outline your goals and objectives, which marketing channels you will be using, timelines and milestones for achieving your marketing goals, any costs associated to the marketing efforts and other pertinent details.
Lastly, don’t forget to track and monitor data and feedback. It’s important to measure how your marketing efforts are performing against the goals that you’ve set. The data that you will gather from your marketing efforts will allow you to track the progress and growth or your business. This information can then be used to guide decisions around future marketing efforts.
There is no cookie-cutter approach to selecting the best marketing activities and channels to use for building awareness, generating leads and increasing sales. Selecting the correct mix of channels and activities will largely depend on factors such as your industry, target market and budget. The key is to research the options that are available, set a clear budget and develop a strategic plan, then throughout the implementation continuously track the performance of your activities and be open to making little tweaks and adjustments here and there based on the insights that you gain.