“You gotta spend money to make money!” We’ve all heard this old truism, and while it definitely is, well, TRUE. . .businesses have to make sure they aren’t outspending their profit. There’s a delicate balance between spending enough (and in the right places) and spending too much. On top of that, the balance is always shifting – more like a wobble – as businesses break into new markets or experience an economic downturn or just grow lax in carefully budgeting where their dollars go..
Oftentimes, when business seek to cut expenses, marketing can be the first to go. It seems expendable, at least temporarily. It also doesn’t seem to make a quick difference – the marketing dollars can’t always be tightly traced to return. However, like too much or too little spending can hurt your business, so can too much or too little marketing. You want to be careful not to cut marketing dollars to the degree that it will impede your company’s growth. However, if you’re looking to tighten up your marketing belt, it might be time to examine where and how you’re spending your advertising dollars.
FIRST, TAKE YOUR PULSE
Are your promotional expenses clearly tied to measurable goals? Are your marketing efforts in sync with sales priorities? Are you getting an effective ROI? Consider these questions as you seek to determine what your key performance indicators (KPIs) are. Besides sales and leads, what other goals are in place for your brand? Some KPIs might be website hits, website referral traffic, social media tagging/sharing, traffic from campaigns you’ve run. How are you measuring these and are they worth it? Determining your KPIs is critical in deciding what is working for you and what is not, therefore making clear marketing decisions more simple.
THE BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
The easiest way to reach the most people at once for practically nothing is email and social media. Targeted email marketing is a consistently reliable way to reach your audience, while also being the most measurable advertising method. Avoid hounding your subscribers with too many fluff emails, which might encourage them to delete your messages immediately without reading, or worse, unsubscribe from your list. Keep your emails spaced, brief, personal, and rewarding. Give those customers a reason to read and act on that email.
Social media is hands-down the most effective way to reach your audience in an organic fashion. Everyone is on social media. Most people go there first when looking for information. Social media is where people find recommendations and comments about a particular brand. And because it’s both visually stimulating and socially interactive, it’s a perfect meeting place for your brand and your clients.
TAKE THE NEXT STEP UP
If you’ve previously focused on generating website traffic, take the next step to generating leads. If you’ve previously focused on generating leads, shift to trying to win them. Whatever it is that you’ve been doing that seems to be stalling, move forward to the next step and focus there for a time.
If you’ve been unsuccessful in generating and nurturing leads, shift to upselling your existing customers. It is five times more costly to win a new customer than to nurture an existing one, so it makes the best fiscal sense to target your best, most loyal customers and cater to them, rather than trying to prospect like crazy and gain new ones.
This isn’t for everyone, but if you find yourself scrambling to come up with jobs for your internal staff – to keep them busy and thus, make them worth the pay – maybe it’s time to outsource. Outsourcing general marketing tasks can be far more cost-efficient than staffing an office. It also frees you up for sales and lead-generation instead of managing the office staff. If your fixed payroll costs are eating up your marketing budget, you might want to look into outsourcing.
Like outsourcing, automated marketing software can save you money typically spent on man hours. Marketing automation software offers a wide range of helps that save you time and money. For example, it will send instant thank you notes to customers, prospects, and leads; it will provide links to prospects that tie your brand and message together in a nice package; it will enable you to schedule “drip campaigns;” it will generate special offers, and more. Marketing automation also assists in email campaigns, segmenting your lists so as not to overwhelm your whole audience at once. Once inside those lists, it can send custom case studies, webinars, promotions, etc.
Obviously, when you’re trimming your budget to save a few bucks, you don’t want it to be obvious from the outside that that’s exactly what you’re doing. Using these smart ways of looking at your marketing, you can reallocate and optimize your advertising dollars. Doing more with less doesn’t have to reduce your visibility; it can often help you work smarter in the long run.
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This article was inspired by "Cutting Trade Show Marketing Expenses" by Scott Price and first appeared at skyline.com