Most new businesses need to market themselves to build an early reputation and start an inbound flow of customers. Without that initial push, even the best products and services could remain undiscovered by the audience that needs them most. However, new businesses are often strapped for cash, with limited capital to work with and multiple investment requirements competing with one another for each purchasing decision.
New entrepreneurs often attempt to spare costs and still market themselves by cutting their marketing budget to the smallest it can possibly be. However, this isn’t always effective, and can end up ruining your campaign.
Common Mistakes From Frugality
These are some of the most common and egregious mistakes made by entrepreneurs desperate to slash costs as low as possible:
- Choosing unreliable or low-quality vendors. In many cases, with respect to marketing, you’ll get what you pay for. Agencies and services that cost lots of money are able to do so because of the amount of experience and talent they have at their disposal. Conversely, services that are priced so cheaply it seems too good to be true are probably too good to be true. Going with the cheapest option without doing any research is a good way to put your campaign in unskilled or careless hands. However, there are some low-cost vendors that are still committed to quality service, such as Printing Center USA for your printing needs, or services rendered by specific freelancers on Upwork. Even major advertisers like Facebook have affordable plan options that almost any business should be able to swing.
- Investing too little to see meaningful ROI. Some marketing campaigns require significant investment before they start to see results. For example, direct mail campaigns rely on high numbers before they start to generate sufficient ROI—both because the cost of printing goes down as quantity goes up and because the response rate is notoriously low. If you’re trying to make a high-intensity marketing strategy work on a low-intensity budget, you’re not going to see a return on your investment. You might as well save your money and invest it in something else.
- Failing to gather enough data. Before you even start your marketing campaign, you should have tons of customer data to work with. You should know exactly who your target audience is, where they buy, how they make their buying decisions, and how they want to be spoken to. Without these data, your marketing plan has zero chance to be effective, and unfortunately, many entrepreneurs skip this information-gathering step because market research can be expensive.
- Spreading a budget over too many channels. Entering the marketing game for the first time, some marketers believe the best choice is to hedge their bets, spreading their budgets across multiple channels so that their investment is protected; if even one channel is successful, the budget can be fruitful. This approach is flawed, however. Spreading your budget that thin means each individual strategy has insufficient resources to operate at its fullest potential. It also means you’ll spend less time researching and understanding each individual strategy, which will doom your campaign to failure.
- Not investing long enough to learn from your experience. Small business marketing strategies are never “right” or “perfect” the first time around. You need to stick with your strategy, making tweaks and adjustments over time and paying attention to how your changing variables affect your eventual results. That’s the only way to get better as a marketer, and the only way to learn more about your target audience. If you only dip your toes in the water, never investing enough to gain that experience, you’ll never have the opportunity to grow and improve with time.
Is a Big Budget the Way to Go?
There’s nothing wrong with frugal marketing. In fact, there are a wealth of low-cost or no-cost strategies that you can use to promote your business effectively, no matter what your industry or goals are. For example, it costs nothing to establish accounts on most social media platforms and post on a regular basis, and with a few extra hours of work, you can write and distribute your own press releases. The goal is to spend your money wisely, rather than focusing exclusively on spending as little money as possible. With the right strategies in place, even a small marketing budget is likely to pay off.
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