Small businesses almost always have problems when it comes to allocating their promotions and marketing budgets. There’s less room for error. They’re probably not established long enough to understand what kinds of campaigns have the most potential for their business.
Some business owners may respond to these challenges by attempting to throw what little money they have at the problem. Sometimes, this works due to sheer luck. More often, though, it’s more akin to a gamble than a calculated risk.
Here are a few better time-tested ways to save money on your small business promotions.
1. Give away useful promotional items
The emphasis is on the word “useful.” Useful items such as customized tube lanyards, pens, and tote bags are more likely to give a better return on investment than things such as visors or fanny packs. This is because they are far likelier to get more use and make more impressions. Less useful things such as ponchos will only be used occasionally, or not at all. This means these less useful items will create far fewer impressions or none at all.
2. Focus on running one promotions campaign at a time
There’s no reason you can’t run multiple campaigns. In many cases, you may want to do exactly that. But unless you have enough people, you can’t expect to do everything well. To get the most bang for your buck, it’s usually better to focus running just one campaign at a time.
Focusing one promotions campaign at a time gives you several cash-saving benefits. First, you remove all the costs in time, money, and attention that come with running many different campaigns. Second, you can develop a better understanding of a platform and become more efficient at handling a campaign if it’s the only thing you’re focused on. Last, you can pivot and move onto another strategy more quickly if the current one isn’t panning out.
3. Use marketing automation solutions
Social media sharing, lead automation, emails, retargeting, and dozens of other common marketing functions can be automated, freeing you and your team to do other critical work.
These solutions can allow a single person to do what was once the work of an entire team, allowing them to dedicate more time to other marketing tasks. Just note that it takes time to understand and set up each system, so take your time to try different solutions before you settle on something for a specific marketing and promotions function.
4. Use free platforms unless there is a specific reason not to
Most social media and marketing automation solutions used for promotions will often come with a paid version that comes with a few perks. These benefits are not necessarily worth the monthly fees if you have not identified a specific need for them. Avoid blindly paying for so-called “perks” you may not need unless you have a specific reason to do so.
5. Outsource your creative department
Most creative work that’s required for contemporary promotions campaigns needs to be done to a high level of competence to be considered “professional.” This means that you may have to invest in a large creative department if you need regular graphic design, website building, animation, or any other creative tasks.
This can get very expensive for small businesses. It may not be justifiable if you only need a small volume of creative assets. If you only need sporadic creative work to be done, it’s usually better to hire an agency or an experienced freelancer, rather than hire a full-time creative team.
Outsourcing gives you the ability to have critical, creative assets available whenever you’re running a promotions campaign. It also means you don’t have to pay for development costs, equipment, training, or downtime.
6. Deliver the best customer service you can
Small businesses have two advantages over larger ones, and that is their ability to switch gears immediately, and the ability of owners to get immediate feedback from customers.
This is possible mostly because of the smaller teams, which reduces the barriers to receiving timely information and allows for quicker responses.
These advantages should always be leveraged into delivering better customer service for several reasons. First, good customer service is what earns you repeat business. Second, repeat business usually means a reduced expenditure on promotions per qualified lead, as repeat customers are often brand advocates who may recommend your business to others. Lastly, word of mouth is an extremely powerful way of promoting, as new customers tend to be more trusting of third parties than they are of businesses.
This all means that delivering good customer service gives a powerful multiplier effect to any promotions campaign you do run. Given that people today tend to rely on online third party reviews to size up a business delivering good service may be the most sustainable way to save money on your promotions.
We hope that these ideas will help you save money when you’re promoting your own business. These aren’t the only ways to do it, by any means. If you’ve got some ideas or a different take on the topic, please share your thoughts and comments below.