Marketing on a shoestring: what not to do » SMEInsider

Marketing on a shoestring: what not to do

saving money coins in a jar

Hannah Stringer is head of marketing for award-winning telephone answering service and outsourced switchboard provider Moneypenny. In this guest post, she explains why a small marketing budget needn’t mean small rewards.

There is no hard-and-fast rule to how much a business should budget for its marketing pot. Some will happily spend, spend, spend. Others simply don’t have the spare cash to dedicate to advertising – but who says that you need to spend millions on a marketing campaign for it to be successful?

A smaller company might not have a bottomless pot of money to play with, but a smaller budget needn’t mean smaller rewards (even on a shoestring) if the company is smart with its spending. The secret is knowing what not to do. To make every penny of a tight budget work hard you’ll need to be brave and stay away from run-of-the-mill activities that don’t offer a tangible direct return. Your ROI is everything and should drive your decisions; use it to narrow down the channels where you spend your pennies.

Steering away from anything a company thinks it should be doing is the first trick to stretching a tight budget. Social media, for instance, should only be entertained if it is working for a particular company. If people aren’t engaging with adverts, posts, tweets and other activity – then stop. There’s no point in flogging a dead Twitter feed and it can always be picked back up when more time and money is available.

The old adage ‘if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is’ is also worth bearing in mind.  If, for example, an SEO expert appears on the doorstep promising the number one Google position for 50 quid a month, politely decline and close the door. Repeat this too for social media ‘gurus’ who promise to increase your followship 10 times over. You won’t suddenly become popular and you won’t get your money back anytime soon.

However, dedicating time to increasing SEO is a good idea in itself if a company doesn’t have the means to outsource it. Think of SEO vs PPC as time vs money. It will undoubtedly take longer to make sure your website and its content is optimised in this way as opposed to paying for advertising, but long term it will generate much more for a little cash spent. Other marketing activity to avoid on a shoestring is blanket marketing and print advertising. Although worthy elements of marketing campaigns for larger companies, they are expensive to execute and rarely produce palpable results for those on a budget.

To really make a budget work and a marketing campaign earn its keep, think on a micro level and make sure all activity is aiming directly for a target audience. Being a smaller size is an advantage here – SMEs really do know their customers inside out. Compared with big brands which will have millions of records to analyse, marketers of smaller companies have the benefit of being close to the customer through proximity of its data such as order sheets, supply books and so on.

All of which lets a marketer drill down into specifics of customer behaviour, for example: Mr Smith only ever buys silver, never gold; Mr McKenzie orders extra calendars every January. The more specific the data, the more valuable it is.

Armed with this information, a marketer can better target a customer base; analysing traits to create personas for different customer types to help advertise to specific groups; looking for seasonal or geographical trends; and going granular – a blanket promotional letter to 500 people will never be as effective as five letters to 100 people, specifically addressing their wants and needs. This precision targeting marketing is the key to minimising marketing wastage, which makes it much more cost-effective.

With Moneypenny you have one person to answer your calls, someone who gets to know you, your business and how you like to work. Your dedicated Moneypenny PA will impress your callers, and give you more time, a professional edge and considerable cost savings.