What is in your marketing budget?

Some businesses complain they don’t have a marketing budget, whilst others religiously put aside an amount of money to allocate towards marketing activities throughout the year.  At TLC Business, we feel that the most efficient way to budget is to make sure every marketing activity in your plan is included to meet a specific objective. It makes for a more efficient and cost-effective investment of your money, rather than putting aside a pot of money that is continually dipped into until it is empty.
We have put together 3 example marketing mixes, for those with no budget, through to those with ambitions to grow quickly.

No budget:
If you have no money for marketing do not despair, fortunately for you, we now have the internet, which affords huge marketing opportunities for those that are willing to invest their time:

  1. SEO: if you have a website, but no budget for paying a professional SEO company to get your site on the front pages of Google, why not consider DIY SEO. You might be surprised at what a little research, keyword analysis tools and some link building will achieve. Oh, and don’t forget to update your content regularly either.
  2. Social Media & blogging: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, online forums etc. There is no end to the different platforms you can utilise to engage with potential customers, enhance your credibility and grow your brand recognition. You’ve got no excuses either. It is free and all it requires is an investment of your time.
  3. Networking: whilst online networking is expanding rapidly, face-to-face networking is still a vital tool for SMEs to get out there and meet potential customers, partners and suppliers. There are an increasing number of free events but choose them wisely, you often get what you pay for.

Tight budget:
If you’ve set aside a marketing budget but have to be extremely careful as to how you spend it (like most of us) then the internet is a blessing to you too. As well as the 3 tips above, consider:

  1.  Email marketing: this is an incredibly cost-effective medium for communicating with large numbers of people. The bit we like and are constantly raving about is that it is the marketing medium that just keeps giving. Not only does it communicate your message to your target audience but it then tells you who was listening and what they are interested in, incredibly useful when managing a tight budget.
  2. Adwords: we feel that advertising is often an ineffective medium for many SMEs. However, adwords is a big exception. Managed correctly, it is an incredibly effective means of communicating with your target audience. Only pay for those people you want to visit your landing page and again, it is entirely measurable, so there is no need for elaborate guess work when deciding if an advert is working.
  3. Telemarketing: love it or hate it, for many businesses this should be a vital tool in your marketing mix. If you can’t stand the constant rejection, get the professionals in. For those B2B businesses out there telemarketing is often a lead generation winner.

Ambitious budget:
For those businesses that really want to make their mark and grow this year, getting the biggest bang for your buck is still important. Including the different media above in your marketing mix is still important, however, to increase impact consider:

  1. Direct Mail: the age of mass marketing has come to an end. With all the customer information available to businesses now, you can target your ideal customers more efficiently. Having built a list of interested prospects through email marketing and adwords, you still can’t beat an engaging and quirky direct mail piece to get them hooked.
  2. Events: they can be hard work and often costly but organising an event for customers, prospects and partners can be a very effective way of generating new business, PR and awareness. To reduce the cost and workload and expand your reach, consider a joint event with a complimentary business partner. Two heads are always better than one.
  3. Advertising: we would caution any SME about taking out adverts in magazines and newspapers without having considered it thoroughly. If you are going to advertise make sure your advert has a clear call to action, a means of measuring its effectiveness (like a quotable promo code) and is not a one-off but instead run as part of a series of multiple issues. If done correctly, advertising is still an incredibly effective means of generating new business. But we stress the words ‘if done correctly’. If not, it is an incredibly efficient way of wasting money quickly!

We hope this has given you some food for thought. There are many more activities you can include in your marketing mix. This is just a taster. So be sure to consider the plethora of activities and opportunities available to your business when putting together your next budget.

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