One of the most important aspects of running a successful business is the need to continually market yourself. Without consistent and effective marketing, no one will know you exist.
But, marketing just for the sake of marketing won’t do any good, either. You need to be doing this effectively. Your marketing efforts need to strike a balance between making adequate expenditures yet not sacrificing the cash you need for other needs.
Below are several strategies for cutting marketing costs without killing the quality of your existing marketing campaigns. Yes! It is possible to achieve stellar marketing results, while cutting your budget.
1. Conduct a marketing audit.
The first place to start is a review of both your marketing budget and any related data. The goal of a marketing audit is to get a grip on how much you’re spending on marketing-related activities. These expenses may include:
Content creation and promotion
Social media ads you’re running, and their management
Email marketing copy for the emails you send
Additional forms of advertising, including print media
Video scripting, creation and promotion
Remarketing or retargeting efforts
SEO efforts (or payments to an SEO consultant)
Depending on your business, this might be a big list. You’ll also want to quantify how much you’re spending across each marketing vertical. This includes any software you’re paying for, advertising fees and the costs of creating any media or marketing materials.
After you’ve done this you might be surprised to find areas where you’re greatly overspending and others where you could cut back right away.
2. Improve your customer targeting
Obtaining new customers costs money. What costs even more is the acquisition of customers that aren’t in your ideal market. They might buy something from you once, but you still might be at a net loss when you add up all the marketing fees it took to obtain them.
For this reason, you’ll want to narrow your focus and ruthlessly market to the types of customers that convert and stay with you over the long term. Study your existing marketing data and especially the profiles of your best customers. This should be where you focus nearly all of your efforts.
A focus like that will help you get more from your existing marketing budget and avoid targeting customers that run your budget dry.
3. Reduce the number of active marketing channels you use.
What are you currently doing for marketing? Chances are it’s probably a smattering of things: Creating and promoting blog content. Growing your social media accounts. Running paid advertising. Converting your content to new mediums like Quora and YouTube. Attending conferences. Cold emailing.
In the first step, you should have compiled a list of every marketing activity you’re currently undertaking. Now, it’s time to dive a little deeper.
It’s likely that not every channel is getting you quality leads. It’s time to cut those that aren’t.
Some things like SEO take time. But, if you’re in a budgeting crisis, you might want to put longer-term activities on hold while you double down on strategies that get you leads much faster.
In time, you can add back other channels. But, it’s a better use of your money to put all your energy into two or three channels, instead of spreading yourself too thin.
4. Use marketing automation tools.
If you’re trying to cut back on man-hours, consider automating certain marketing tasks. Automation will help free up you and your employees to focus on more valuable tasks.
Here are a few of the most common marketing tasks that you can automate:
Chatbots for social media: Chatbots are taking over the world. They’re most commonly employed via Facebook Messenger, and other social media sites, but they can be adapted to other platforms as well.
Chatbots can be used to accomplish tasks like gathering company intel, offering personalized support, responding on social media, promoting your content and more. Best of all, after you take the initial setup, these bots will run continuously without additional work required on your part.
An email autoresponder: Email autoresponders can help you build a deeper relationship with your subscribers without having to do any additional work. A well-written autoresponder can even act as part of a pre-sales sequence.
Let’s say someone joins your email list for a five-part email course you’ve created. With each email, you’ll provide some serious value and help people out in some way. Then, at the end of each sequence, you can pitch a product or service.
This is a great way to make your money back on the cost it took to acquire the lead in the first place. This strategy then allows you to scale up your marketing efforts.
Link together general business tasks: Your marketing needs to work like a machine. Think of it that way. Every piece is working together to support your other efforts. If you feel that your marketing tools and strategies are all over the place, consider adding automation tools into your workflow.
One of the most commonly used tools is called IFTTT. Using this, you can link your social media, email marketing, lead management, and content-marketing efforts together. All of this will save you a ton of time.You can either select from a list of pre-existing automations, or create your own based on your existing workflows.
5. Re-purpose older content.
If you’ve been publishing content to your company blog for a while, then you’re probably sitting on a gold mine of content. There are two ways to approach it:
Update and promote older content as though it’s new: Your older content can actually help to get you new readers and traffic. Just because you published a post once doesn’t mean you’re done forever.
You’ll problably find new information available that can help you enhance your existing post. Or, you can re-write sections of it to improve the user experience.
Brian Dean from Backlinko said he was able to see a 652 percent increase in organic traffic, just from updating one post.
Repurpose content for new mediums: There’s more to content marketing than writing and publishing blog post after blog post. In fact, your visitors might actually prefer to consume content in a different format.
Think about taking your existing blog posts and transforming them into new mediums. For example, you might create an ebook out of a series of blog posts. Or, you could take a data-driven post and create an infographic around it. Or, you could re-work your blog posts into Quora answers with a link back to your site.
By morphing your content into different formats, you can reach new potential customers, and maybe even pick up a few quality backlinks for your site.
6. Use free tools, instead of subscription tools.
You’re probably paying more than you need to for marketing tools. For example, you’re probably paying for keyword research software, a company CRM, social media management, email marketing tools and more.
Some of these tools might be essential, but you could find a free alternative with a little digging. Most premium tools are equipped with more advanced features than their free counterparts, but you have to ask yourself, is this tool really contributing to my bottom line?
If the answer is no, then cut it.
There are tons of high-quality free keyword research and SEO tools available, along with image creation, email marketing, social media and analytics tools.
You might have to spend some time learning the ins and outs of a new tool, but if you can get the same results and save a huge chunk of your budget, it’s time well spent.
7. Bring certain marketing activities in-house (and outsource others).
Back in step one, when you were analyzing your budget, you might have uncovered a few ways you could cut staff costs. This doesn’t mean firing your whole marketing team (far from it). Instead, you might rearrange who it is that will accomplish any of a number of specific tasks. Get creative!
For example, maybe you have a talented designer on your team who can create images and social media graphics, so you can stop outsourcing that task. Or, maybe you’ve been doing all of your own writing, but you’ve found a cheap freelancer who produces stellar content.
When considering going in-house or outsourcing, approach the quesion from a cost perspective, but don’t sacrifice quality. It’s better to cut certain marketing tasks altogether rather than lower your standards.
Still, if you’ve been relying on outside agencies to handle aspects to handle certain aspects of your marketing, this is probably something you could cut. If you have a staff member who’s familiar with SEO, then promote that person to the role. You always have the option of bringing on an intern as well.
8. Double-down on effective lead sources.
The easiest customers to convert are those that are receptive to what you’re offering. They’re in your ideal target market, and chances are they’ve purchased similar products or service in the past.
Now, ask yourself: Where are these customers coming from?
Is it from a Facebook ad campaign you’re running? Is Strategic guest blogging? Or maybe your best customers and clients come from referrals.
These customers’ sources might include multiple channels, or perhaps they come from a single source. Once you’ve found this gold mine of referrals, spend all your marketing efforts there.
9. Focus on referral marketing.
Referral marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing. Yet, most companies don’t maximize the number of word-of-mouth referrals they receive.
Your customer relationships should always be a priority. So, perhaps add a sweetener, such as an incentive for recommending your business. This might be a rewards program giving discounts for every customer referred.
Often, great referrals start when a business providesincredible service. Your customers won’t spread the word about your brand if they’re not absolutely thrilled with your service themselves.
So, yes, offer incentives and make them beneficial enough for your customers and clients to pass your business on. Just remember that the core of a successful referral strategy starts with your providing so much value to your customers that they can’t help but talk about you.
10. Consider moving to a remote team.
Moving to a fully remote team isn’t something you can accomplish overnight but it can help you cut in-house expenses across the board. You’re probably already working with remote freelancers, or other vendors in some capacity. Remote teams could be especially useful in the early stages of building your business.
With the myriad of communication and collaboration tools available today it’s easier than ever to stay connected, even with a team spread across the globe. Tools like Basecamp can give your team a centralized project management tool to ensure your team stays focused and productive.Communication tools like Slack and Skype can enable fast team communication and promote team connection.
While remote teams might not work for every business, their potential benefits are worth considering.
Overall, making budget cuts is never easy, especially when you’re in an area as essential as marketing. Hopefully, you’re now better equipped to begin scaling back your overall marketing spending, while still managing to keep growing your business.
Remember, your marketing budget and needs will fluctuate over time. As your revenue increases, you can afford to experiment with your marketing strategies once again and reintroduce previously cut initiatives.