When starting a new business it can feel that money is simply flowing through your hands, all in the wrong direction! That said, you’re confident your business proposition is sound and you recognise that most businesses require substantial outlay to get them on their feet – so in the meantime you need to keep an iron grip on your budget and a beady eye out for any opportunities to reduce costs.
One area where it is easy to overspend is marketing; there are so many opportunities, so many different ways to communicate with your audience and so many potential customers out there that it’s hard to know where to start and more importantly, when to stop!
It can feel that achieving the balance between getting the coverage you want within the budget that you have requires the skills of a magician. To help you on your way to becoming the Paul Daniels of marketing here are 6 ideas to help you stretch your budget that little bit further!
Set objectives and stick to them
Marketing can offer an overwhelming number of opportunities; advertising in trade press, advertising online, brochures, direct mail, email, social media, leafleting, websites and exhibitions are just a handful of the possibilities. Obviously, if you had an unlimited budget and plenty of time you would undertake every marketing activity possible, but we live in the real world where budgets are tight and time even more so. To stretch your marketing budget you need to be very clear about who your target market is and what your objectives are. If a marketing opportunity appears, but doesn’t take you considerably closer to meeting those objectives then the answer has to be NO! Saying no to opportunities that aren’t right for your company will leave you with a bigger proportion of your marketing budget to spend on those that are.
Take advantage of free promotional opportunities
Social media can be a little daunting if you’re setting up a new business as it can feel like yet another addition to a never ending to-do list, or even more daunting, list of things to learn! It’s also something that requires full commitment over a sustained period of time. But this new medium can offer tangible benefits to a fledgling business as through these platforms you’ll be able to access hundreds of potential customers free of charge – just remember social media is all about engagement, using it as a megaphone through which to blast anyone and everyone will negate any potential benefit.
Practice affiliate marketing
This is a business technique used by many large organisations to further their marketing budgets, whereby companies who work in similar fields but with different products share data, advertising space or even send out marketing communications on behalf of one another. You can apply this strategy to your company too; if your new business sells candles and you meet somebody who produces soap you could share an exhibition stand, share data, swap advertising space on your websites – the ways to work together and achieve cost savings are endless!
Bundle projects with suppliers
When outsourcing projects, printers and designers can often offer good rates on ‘bundled’ packages – so rather than feeding work to them piecemeal or spreading the work between a number of suppliers, ask one company for a discount if they manage everything. Don’t forget that a design agency will often not only design your brochure or website, but also print or build them for you too.
Target your direct mail activity
Direct mail is a popular medium due to its higher conversion rate, unfortunately with these higher levels of response comes higher costs, but luckily logical thinking at the planning stages can help keep your direct mail spend to a minimum. The golden rule of direct mail is targeting, it’s tempting to mail to everybody in your database for ease, but by only mailing to the most relevant contacts you can make considerable savings on print and postage. Further postage costs can be reduced by keeping your mailing size to Royal Mail’s ‘small letter’ size and planning ahead to allow you to post second class, doing this could save you almost £200 on a 500 piece mailing!
Take advantage of economies of scale in print
There are fantastic economies of scale to be achieved when purchasing print, never print 1000 units now with the intention of printing more next month, think through your next 6/12 months of activity and purchase print in bulk to take advantage of economies of scale. Use your printer’s knowledge and expertise by asking them if your print specification can be tweaked to run more efficiently; sometimes changing paper stock, number of colours or even shape/size of your item can offer significant cost savings.
Although none of the above ideas are going to pull you a nice fat marketing budget out a top hat, by employing some of the methods you’ll find that the budget you do have, as if by magic stretches, that little bit further!
About the Author: Natalie Smith, a CIM qualified marketing professional is the Client Service Manager at Blaze Communication, helping clients to build brands, increase sales, excite customers and communicate more effectively. follow her with Twitter on @Blaze_Group and visit the website at http://www.blazecommunication.com/.