By Erik Nielson
For many small business owners, there’s nothing more stressful than managing a budget. Financial strain can cripple even the most well-planned business, and it’s not always easy to foreshadow when this might occur. More often than not, it’s marketing that causes business owners to go over-budget.
Marketing is, of course, one of the most important aspects of running any type of small business – it also happens to be one of the most expensive. Fortunately, there are ways in which to cut your marketing budget down without losing customers, especially if you take the time to plan properly.
The following are four effective ways to cut down on small business marketing costs, all of which are worth taking into consideration no matter how well your marketing efforts are performing at the moment.
1. Retire Dated Products/Services
When a company launches a new product or service, it’s crucial to focus on a strong marketing push in order to maximize sales and visibility. Products and services have recognizable lifespans, however, and you have to be quite lucky to end up with one that will stand the test of time.
As products/services begin to age, they often become dated and are no longer pertinent to today’s market, yet many business owners still throw excessive amounts of money into marketing them. Take stock in which products are performing well and which might no longer be worth pushing, and don’t hesitate to retire the latter. This way, you can focus on creating new products/services while saving money on marketing costs for those which have lived-out their lifespans.
2. Utilize Social Media
Social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook are ideal marketing tools for small business owners. Not only are these services free (they also offer paid options for more aggressive advertising), but they allow you to stay in direct contact with clients, customers and fans.
If you have a new product to launch, for example, you can create a big push via social media in hopes that it may go “viral.” The trick with combining social media with your marketing efforts is to post consistently, yet not too frequently. It’s all about striking a balance, as you want to remain visible to your followers, but no one likes a spammer.
3. Get Your Products/Services Reviewed
If you’ve just launched a new product or service, it’s time to get it reviewed. Blogs, magazines and other media outlets are excellent resources for drumming up interest, and all it takes is a simple email detailing what you’ve just released. Don’t hesitate to send out free promotional copies of whatever it is that you’ve launched, as a single positive review can be enough to set off a snowball effect – almost 100% free of cost to you.
4. Find Your Niche and Focus on It
A big part of marketing — especially for new businesses — is finding the right audience. Initial marketing costs can be exceedingly high simply based upon the fact that businesses often feel the need to target a variety of audiences to see which will be most likely to remain interested, but it’s not always necessary to take this route.
Instead, business owners should brainstorm as much as possible in order to determine which target market is right for them. This way, you can allocate your marketing budget to one specific subset of individuals instead of casting your net as far as it can go. Once you’ve settled on your niche, you can branch out from there as your business becomes more successful, all while saving money in the process.
Marketing can surely be expensive, but it’s easier now than ever before to cut costs if you know what you’re doing.
About the Author: Erik Neilson is a writer for Funding Gates, the accounts receivable software for small businesses. Neilson has held a variety of roles over the course of the past few years; contributing journalist for magazines such as Dispatch and Food Loves Beer, copywriter for EMRG Media and 21st Century Soft Technologies and public relations consultant for United E-Commerce LLC (San Francisco, CA) – one of the largest retailers of men’s ties and accessories in America.