Your product or service can be top-quality with amazing customer reviews, but what’s it worth if it is not marketed well? One question often comes up in the minds of small business owners: is it possible to promote your brand well with a limited marketing budget?
Why certainly! If your strategy is strong, marketing doesn’t need to be pricey. From setting a target audience to creating a financial plan, here’s how to manage your marketing budget
Do Thorough Market Research
Market research is not an addendum. It’s the very first step to establishing a comprehensive marketing strategy. If you don’t know everything there is to know about your product or service, you may have already failed the first milestone of running a business.
Determine Your Personas
To do appropriate research about your product or service, you have to be mindful of your target audience. Who are the people that are going to be using your product? These are your personas. Is it young people, parents, octogenarians, or someone else? When you know who you’re marketing to, you will also figure out how to tailor the marketing efforts in their language.
For instance, young people are more active on Instagram, with 64% of its user-base between 18-29 years of age. If they are your target market, it would make sense to spend more time zeroing in on the apps they regularly use.
Use this worksheet to build out your buyer personas.
Analyze the Competition
The next step is to identify the shortcomings in your competitors’ products. A great way to do this is by reading customer reviews on their e-commerce website. Once you’ve found out the weakness of your biggest contenders, you can design your marketing strategy accordingly.
There is plenty more to learn about market research and we’ve only just scratched the surface.
What Does the Marketing Budget Include?
Let’s say you’ve conducted all the market research you need. It’s time to move on to understanding the marketing budget. Before you create one from scratch, you should know that the marketing budget does not only include the costs of advertising on Google AdWords but there is also the marketing staff, customer relations, and agency retainers to be considered. Depending on your company, these costs can vary. Here are some of the things it should include:
- Website design and updating costs
- Pay Per Click Ads
- Search Engine Optimization
- Graphics and Design
- Content Outsourcing
- Print Advertising
- Public Relations
- Social Media Tools
- Web Analytics
Creating a Budget Fit for Your Needs
You can’t just pick up any budget template and use it to manage your finances. Every company is different, so you must carefully deliberate your needs keeping your business targets, funds, and priorities in mind. You can customize one of the hundreds available online or create a marketing budget from scratch. Here’s how you can start.
Figure Out Your Marketing Goals
What do you want to accomplish with your marketing strategy? Do you want to build your brand image or increase sales? Do you want to give off a young and hip vibe or one with grit and integrity? Your answers to all these questions determine what your end budget is going to look like. Focus on things like new product introductions, gaining a social media following, and boosting your e-commerce website.
Plan for Expenses
First, figure out the average budget for a company your size in the current year. Trends and exact numbers change every year, but this will help you get a rough idea of how much you should set aside for your marketing needs.
Keep in mind that there are new tools emerging in the market every day, and it should be your job to look out for the next big advancement. For instance, analytics and data management tools have grown a lot over the past few years and they are likely to evolve in the future. The faster you incorporate technological updates, the more successful your business is likely to be.
Find Your Marketing Priorities
There are hundreds of marketing apps and sites that offer premium versions with extra features. Instead of spending money on everything you think might help, evaluate whether it is relevant to your marketing priorities. Look for case studies and testimonials from companies that have used the tool for a similar application or in the same industry as you.
To make sure the money you’re investing is worth it, compare your efforts to the results often.
Tools that Can Help You Cut Down Costs
In the end, it isn’t really a correlation between how much you spend and what results you get. We are believers in the quality-over-quantity principle. Here are some ways you can cut down on your business marketing expenses.
Instead of hiring a full-time dedicated team for marketing, most small businesses prefer to outsource their campaigns to third-party agencies. It just makes sense: instead of hiring salaried individuals, you can pay a marketing agency for their services every time you feel the need for a new campaign or strategy. They can help set things up for you so you can easily manage them in their absence. A good agency will know how to stretch your budget and get as much out of it as possible.
Try educating your audience instead of spending money on advertisements. This is what long-form blogs do; they present the reader with exhaustive, relevant information about a related topic. Not only will this help you establish trust with your readers, Google favors high quality, informative content and can help you boost your visibility in search results.
Acquiring new customers is much more expensive than, retaining the ones you already have. To keep your customers coming back, offer them discounts, loyalty cards, and stellar customer service. Building customer relations is a technique used by the biggest brands in the world today. They go by a simple rule. If they perceive your brand well, they will tell others about it—and word-of-mouth isn’t a bad way to advertise.
Once you know the ropes, you will realize how big of a difference better budgeting can make. The trick is to strategize from the get-go and determine your goals before you begin taking the bigger steps. Plan intelligently and you will reach your marketing goals sooner or later.