Money is tight in small and growing businesses. Owners are constantly shifting budget priority from one area to another and carefully balancing their spending against their revenues.
In a business that is spending all of its marketing budget on off-line marketing, finding extra dollars for online marketing can seem like a challenge. But there are some creative ways you can move money around that will allow you to market your business online too. The key is balancing your strategy.
1. First things first… have a budget for marketing
Sometimes the problem isn’t that the budget is running out… it’s that there’s no marketing budget at all. Establishing a yearly budget for your marketing is the first step to marketing your business more effectively. Setting a budget has many advantages:
- It ensures you won’t over-spend on your marketing
- It ensures that you’re devoting enough resources to marketing
- It encourages you to market on a regular basis (consistency goes a long way)
- It helps prevent ‘random acts of marketing’ driven by promotions and sales on advertising (vs. marketing on a regular basis in the right places for the right reasons)
We generally recommend 5% of your yearly revenues as a starting point for your marketing budget. If your company makes $500,000 per year, you should be spending $25,000 a year on marketing at a minimum, or approximately $2,000 per month. In some cases, this number may go up and down, depending on your industry, revenues, and situation. If you are re-branding or launching a new business, for example, this budget may need to be doubled or tripled to account for the heavier advertising required to draw attention and build the brand.
2. Reduce Yellow Pages ad size
Yellow pages account for a significant portion of many small businesses’ advertising budgets. Costs can be upwards of several thousand dollars a month for a large display ad in the publication.
Because many customers are turning to the web and social media to find businesses, it only makes sense to shift some of this budget towards online marketing. The money you save from a reduced ad size in the Yellow Pages can be put towards developing a great company website and improving your search rankings and social media presence.
Potential Cost Savings: $500—$2,000+ per month
3. Shift a portion of budget from broadcast media
If you use radio as your primary advertising source (e.g. you advertise on 2 or more radio stations), look at shifting some of your radio budget towards your online advertising. Keep the station(s) that are giving you the most impact, and reduce or cut the ads on ones that aren’t.
Your business will benefit from having a greater online/offline balance, and the online advertising will provide you with useful marketing information that you can use to improve your radio campaigns. With the typical budget of a heavy radio schedule, it won’t take much shifting to cover the cost of your online marketing, which is significantly less expensive.
Potential Cost Savings: $500—$3,000+ per month
4. Shift budgets from print media
Print media is another medium that businesses can potentially spend a lot of money on. If you advertise regularly via direct mail, the newspaper or trade magazines, you should evaluate all of the places you advertise in and determine which ones are performing well and which ones aren’t. Online marketing is highly targeted and can attract the same demographic as the publications you are advertising in, often for a fraction of the cost, so it’s worth looking into.
Potential Cost Savings: $300—$3,000+ per month
5. Use resources you already have
Sometimes taking a look around the room can save you money. A lot of online marketing has to do with content generation and responding to customer inquiries on social media, on your blog, etc. If one or more of your employees can be recruited to help you with this initiative, it means you’ll need less help from your online marketing agency.
A key consideration to evaluate is if the employees have the writing & computer skills required, and can handle the additional responsibilities. If you have a real star or an existing marketing person in charge of this, be sure to bring this to the table. It’s beneficial if somebody internal to the company is involved in your social media and online marketing, and it could save you money on a contract with an agency.
Potential Cost Savings: Varies (but could be significant)
6. Consolidate advertising agencies
If you currently use more than one agency to manage your advertising (e.g. one for print and one for radio), consolidating these services to a multi-disciplinary agency may provide you with some cost savings and the ability to cover all mediums under one roof. This option may not be ideal for everybody, as some companies hire specialists in different areas that have a specific product, service or industry expertise that would be hard to replace.
If you don’t have any particular reason to be using several agencies, it may be worthwhile to speak to an agency that handles all mediums to see if it works for you. Much like bundling your TV, Internet and Phone services at home, it may mean some cost savings and efficiency for your business.
Potential Cost Savings: Varies
7. Spend money to make money
Sometimes it boils down to a simple case of spending money to make more money. Online marketing is a great source of leads and brand awareness for many businesses, and if done right, can be a very worthwhile investment. Sometimes it may mean adjusting the budget to make room for online marketing.
Potential Cost Savings: This one’s not about saving – it’s about making a calculated investment.
Looking through your advertising expenditures, you’ll likely find there are lots of areas where money can be moved around to accommodate a budget for online marketing. The beauty of online marketing is it costs significantly less than most traditional media and can attract much more qualified leads. Evaluate each off-line medium you are currently using for performance, and determine how many leads and sales each generates.
Look at shifting budgets from the slower performers to online advertising, which can potentially generate much more qualified leads with less expense. Because online marketing is also very measurable and provides you with useful data about your customers and their interests, the information you find can also help you improve your offline campaigns.
Kickstart Your Online Marketing!
nine10 has years of experience in all areas of online marketing, including website design, social media, blogging, email marketing, and more. Book a free consultation to discuss your needs, or visit our Inbound Marketing Services page for more information about our services.