If there is one thing that’s common among small business owners is the struggle to meet big goals with small budgets. I for one do not think that’s a bad thing. Seth Godin doesn’t either. Having a smaller budget than the Fortune 500 mega-corp down the street doesn’t mean you can’t have top notch marketing communications materials. It just means you have to be more creative and strategic with your decisions.
Are going to go out and hire Crispin Porter + Bogusky for a $25M 30 second commercial straightaway? Probably not, but don’t skimp where it counts. I learned a long time ago that two things make you successful in business; innovation and communication. You can succeed for a while on either; but when innovation and communication are both firing on all cylinders you will experience powerful growth. So without further ado:
5 Steps To Getting The Biggest Bang For Your Buck
- Work with professionals that you can trust.
- Talk to your audience.
Don’t just take a wag at your next marketing effort. Ask your best customers where they think it makes sense for you to advertise. Ask them what they think of your message; what turned them on about you. Talk to them about becoming references.
- Leverage Web 2.0 trends.
Currently the marketing space is turning inside out. Customers are demanding more control over their buying experience. Use social networks and blogs to learn more about your audience. If you make a product that make them happy, give them an outlet to talk about it. In fact, they’re already talking about your brand – good and bad. You just have to tap into it. It’s cheap, easy and very effective. You need to be thankful for the praise. And if you’re getting something less than praise, you need to work on the innovation side of the equation. Take advantage of new technologies to tap into and start a conversation with your audience.
- Trackable expenditures are key.
If you cannot measure the effectiveness of the radio ad or the billboard, don’t do it. And reach and frequency stats aren’t enough for me to spend my money. You should expect a 4:1 return on your marketing dollars, find another way to reach your customers. I would test different mediums, but when they’re not working for you find another way to get your unique value prop out.
- Buy for your business like you buy for yourself.
Where do you buy your business suits? Wal*Mart or somewhere with a tailor? What about your shoes? Your watch? Your purse? All of these things say something about the type of image you want to portray. Your marketing and communication efforts are the same. You don’t have to spend a fortune; you just have to spend wisely. Even a young professional knows to build his/her wardrobe slowly over time with high quality purchases.
You need specialists in marketing and communication that have your best interest in mind. They need to understand your business and your goals. They should also be able to generate and track a measurable ROI (Return On Investment) to show you that your money was well spent. Don’t put your image at risk because the kid in his basement can build a cheaper website than the established agency. The old rule rings true more often than not, you get what you pay for.
Nick is the co-author of "The Age of Conversation", an Expert Blogger for Fast Company magazine, and authors an AdAge Power150 blog on the topic of marketing and branding.
Download his free report, "7 Principles of Attracting More Clients," at www.nick-rice.com