How to get the most bang from your 2014 marketing bucks

plant growing out of coins shows good investment of marketing budgetA new year is upon us. Will 2014 be a good, profitable year for you, or a year of struggle? A good New Year’s resolution might be to make the most of those scarce marketing and promotion dollars. This is particularly important for small businesses. Here are a few tips about how to get the most bang for your marketing bucks.

Recycle and re-use: If something is working, stick with it. If your ad copy is working, use it on your website or sales brochure. Get maximum use from your tried-and-true content. After all, Nike has been using “Just Do It” for 25 years. Capitalize on the equity you have in your existing logo, branding, and key product benefits. You know what’s working – double down on that. If it’s not working, then maybe it’s time for a change.

Do it yourself: There are a lot of marketing, advertising and graphic design tasks that you want to rely on a professional for, but there are many things you can do more efficiently and economically yourself. If you have a business blog, take the time to write articles frequently. After all, no one knows your business and area of expertise better than you do. When it comes to getting out an e-mail newsletter, use a service like Constant Contact, and learn how to rapidly put together a newsletter using their drag-and-drop interface. Writing a new product press release is best done by you or one of your staff. Keeping these routine promotional tasks in-house saves you money and gets you a better result.

Updating your website is something that you can do yourself if you had the foresight to have your website built using a user-friendly content management system (CMS).

Explore inexpensive options: There are many inexpensive or even free ways to get the word out about your company and products, and you should explore these. Consultants will often tell you that you need to “get on social media.” To that I would add “when it makes sense.” You have to know where your potential customers are. If they are on Facebook, then yes, have a business Facebook page and use it to announce news and events. But depending on your business and your clientele, you may find that Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn are more effective.

Press releases about new products or company news can be sent to local news outlets. If they are well written and contain real news, you could find them in print. And these cost you nothing.

Invest in what’s important: While there is a lot that you can do in-house or on the cheap, there are certain key promotional tasks you want to entrust to a professional. Creating a logo or a company branding is not something you want amateurs to do. It’s important to get it right the first time, so you are building on a solid foundation.

Creating the company website is also not something you want to use an amateur for. Creating a packaging design is something you should have done by a professional. When it comes to these key parts of your company image, you want the best professional help you can get. The amateur route may seem economical at the time, but it’s expensive in the long run – either in re-dos or in lost business.

Don’t overdo it: At the same time, don’t go overboard. Don’t create a 40-page website where a 10-page one would do. Don’t create a huge e-commerce website if you only have 2 or 3 products. You can always expand it later. Don’t go to the expense and trouble of designing and printing up a lot of glossy color brochures that may go out of date before they are used. Use your promotional dollars to create the exact items you need to promote your business efficiently.

One way to economize on your sales materials is to make them modular. Rather than printing up a glossy color brochure for every product, print up a generic company presentation folder and then fill it with one- or two-color fliers for each product or service. The sales person can just use the ones relevant to that customer.

Optimize: Make sure your website is optimized for best result. If you have a WordPress website, the Yoast plugin will walk you through SEO basics. For a more complete SEO optimization, hire an SEO expert to go through your site. Make sure your website content is fresh, up-to-date and accurate. When was the last time you went through and updated your content? Are there call-to-action buttons prominently on the Home page? Can site visitors easily order your products, find information, subscribe to your newsletter or contact your company?

These are just a few of the things you can do to make the most of your marketing and promotional dollars.

Have you found other ways to optimize your marketing budget?

About Jefferson Hawkins

With over 40 years experience in graphic design, marketing and advertising, Jefferson brings a wealth of old-school basics to the digital age.

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