Marketing on a shoestring

Javan Bramhall, owner of Digital Glue, outlines how you can market your business in today’s current economic climate without spending a buck load of cash.

With budgets tighter than ever, there’s a real temptation to see marketing as an ‘expense’, a cost to be cut. But great marketing pays for itself – it doesn’t have to be expensive.

Here’s how a sharp focus on goals and customers can help you deliver growth on a shoestring budget.

Start with the end

To build a cost-effective campaign, you need to start with the end – what are your business objectives and how can marketing help you achieve them.

To translate business goals into marketing objectives, start by outlining what you’re trying to impact, by how much, and the channels you’ll use. This will help you set a budget that’s proportionate to your goals and delivery mechanisms.

Don’t forget to budget for time. Often the most overlooked part of the planning process, people are usually a business’s biggest cost and their time needs to be spent wisely.

It’s not about you

The easiest way to waste time and money is to target your marketing at everyone. To make that shoestring stretch as possible, define your target audiences and what really matters to them.

Make sure you’re clear on the value your product or service offers them: articulate the metric you’ll change, in what direction, and by what magnitude.

The six marketing activities to focus on

Once you’ve defined where you’re trying to get to, there are six key areas to focus on when building a cost-effective marketing strategy.

 1) Existing customers: Acquiring new customers is expensive – about five to 25 times more expensive than repeat business from existing customers. Maximise your relationships with and revenue from existing customers by creating a personalised experience, listening to feedback, and incentivising repeat business with rewards.

2) Referrals: No campaign can beat a personal recommendation from someone you know and trust. Once you’ve built a great relationship with your existing customers, use them to spread the word. Identify the high point in the customer journey and build a mutually beneficial referral mechanism into your business model.

3) Email marketing: Only talking to your customers when you want them to buy is a sure-fire way to make them see you as a transactional supplier rather than a trusted partner. A regular email marketing programme with a clear purpose and KPIs is an inexpensive way to keep your brand top of mind. Make sure the content you include gives people a reason to open it and to keep reading. Even better? Make the content irresistibly shareable and you’ll find your database quickly growing.

4) SEO basics: A Google Business listing and clear set of target keywords used throughout your website will help customers find you. Once they’ve found your website, make it a positive first impression with a site that loads quickly and is optimised for mobile.

5) Content marketing: Central to both your email marketing and SEO, content marketing is a cost-effective way to engage new and existing customers. Whether it’s a blog post, video, or slide deck, content that’s relevant, useful, and delivered at just the right moment keeps your awareness high and builds your reputation as a thought leader.

6) Strategic partnerships: Teaming up with a non-competing business with similar or even shared customers is a great way to deliver growth. Create a simple offer that’s easy for customers to understand and both partners to implement and promote.

Go round in circles

Great marketing strategies aren’t linear, they’re circles. Create a dashboard to track all of the above activities and whether they’re delivering against the business and marketing objectives you outlined at the start of the process.

That dashboard isn’t a ‘once-a-quarter’ planning document; it’s a daily compass that helps you review and improve your marketing strategy.

This iteration process enables you to pinpoint which marketing activities deliver the best ROI for your business, making sure you only spend on what’s working. Spend smarter, grow faster.

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