Here at MV Marketing, we’re all about cost-effectiveness. That’s why in this post, we’re looking at how small businesses can squeeze more out of their marketing budget.

We probably shouldn’t start with a depressing statistic, but we think you should know this one. Recent research has estimated that the world’s businesses waste about $37 billion on ineffective digital marketing. For the average company, that was about 60% of its digital marketing budget! Of course, inefficient marketing isn’t confined to the internet. Offline marketing can be equally wasteful.

The good news is that with a few simple measures, businesses — especially small ones — can make their marketing budget go so much further. Here are five ways to help you achieve just that.

1. Measure whether your marketing is working

We’ve put this at the start because every business should be doing this! To make the most of your marketing, you need some way of measuring how well its working. Whether it’s in actual sales, enquiries, conversion rate or page views on your website, you have to have some sort of metric for assessing what your marketing efforts have achieved.

We know this sounds obvious, and yet it’s surprising how often businesses neglect this. In small operations, this is often down to shortages in time or expertise — in either case, one possible solution is using professional marketing services.

2. Nurture your leads

It takes so much time and effort to capture new leads. So it’s a crying shame that most of them evaporate before they can be converted into sales. This is partly down to a lack of ‘nurturing’ — the process of following up on leads. Nurturing involves gently reminding your prospects that (a) you exist and (b) you can solve a problem for them.

There’s a whole art and science to effective (and legal) nurturing, but the majority of businesses aren’t even doing the basics. For example, a survey by Forbes showed that only about a quarter of businesses even contacted their leads after the initial enquiry. If you want to make the most of your budget, that’s a mistake you’ll need to avoid.

3. Make the most of social media…

Social media offers unparalleled marketing reach to small businesses . An estimated 42 million people use social media in the UK, and average daily use is close to three hours. What’s more, channels like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram let small businesses engage quickly and directly with customers — a fantastic asset.

All of this can be accessed without spending one pound of the marketing budget. It’s true that without any financial investment, it’s tough to get traction on social media. But our point is that any company with an internet connection can at least get some free marketing though social media. Therefore, any plan to make the most of your marketing budget has to involve using social media.

4. …but think about your true marketing budget

Now, about that word ‘free’.

Small or micro-businesses often underestimate their true marketing costs. This is because the time that marketing takes is a hidden cost. Smaller businesses often neglect this when calculating their marketing budgets.

Let’s say a small business spends £500 having leaflets designed and printed. This may be the figure paid to the designer and printer, but the true costs go beyond this. What about all the time spent by employees in discussing the design, looking for quotes, telephoning, emailing? All this time has to be paid for by the employer. Furthermore, this work stops the employee from carrying out other revenue-generating tasks.

Where this can really be a problem is with ‘free’ marketing on social media. Although there is no upfront cost for posting on social media, it all takes time. Sometimes, lots of time. Also, because platforms such as Twitter are built around quick responses, employees can also be distracted from other tasks throughout their day.

These costs are hard for smaller businesses to get a handle on. Typically, their employees are juggling many different roles. When they are switching back and forth between jobs, it’s hard to figure out how much time the ‘free marketing’ is taking.

The take-home message is that ‘making the most of a marketing budget’ has to take into account the often-neglected costs of employee time.

5. Brand your work vehicle

And finally…this may seem left-field, but hear us out!

It’s easy to get the impression that digital marketing is the only game in town. However, we shouldn’t forget that there are plenty of amazingly cost-effective offline methods. One of these is branding your vehicle. A few modest graphics needn’t cost the earth and can give you a massive return on investment.

Granted, vehicle graphics won’t add much value if your customer base is spread all over the globe. But the majority of businesses still sell most of their goods or services locally, and for them, vehicle graphics can be a winner. Think of it this way — every time you go out in the vehicle, you’re:

  • increasing brand familiarity
  • advertising that you’re in the area
  • telling people you’re an active business.

You’re also reminding them of problems they’ve been meaning to get fixed. If you haven’t got around to tackling  leaky gutter,  seeing Mike’s Gutter Repairs on a van might prompt you to do something about it — such as ringing Mike.

MV Marketing specialise in offering expert, cost-effective  marketing services to small businesses. For more ways to make the most of your marketing budget, please get in touch.