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Find money even when you have no marketing budget

by | Last updated Feb 6, 2024 | Published on Mar 25, 2021 | Content Marketing

While the marketing budgets dipped during the ongoing pandemic for some companies, 73% of chief marketing officers expect a positive impact on overall business and the economic climate, according to the 2021 Gartner Spend Survey. At Savoir Faire, we believe a marketing budget for small business is imperative, even if it’s a smaller percentage of spending than what big companies allocate. 

Companies that don’t allocate much – or any – money toward marketing sometimes assume it’s because they don’t have the funds to invest in marketing efforts. That’s usually not the case. There are several ways to free up money – you just need to know where to look. What could you trim to make an impact? Here are the top three places to look:

Marketing Budget for Small Business: Audit your expenses

You’re likely already spending money on marketing, just not as strategically or efficiently as you could be. Perhaps there are ongoing paid ad campaigns that are outdated or not generating leads. Using Google’s ad services non-strategically is often a waste of money. The same could be said of a long-running ad in the local business publication. 

Speaking of leads, the company may also pay a service for lists of “sales” leads or email addresses. If everyone – including your competitors – has those same lists, they’re quite worthless.

Is the company spending money on community sponsorships? It’s not a waste of money to support local organizations but think of it this way: strategically investing marketing dollars leads to higher revenue, which leads to more money available to donate to community organizations. 

Check your service levels

Are you utilizing any Software as a Service (SaaS) products? If you are, when was the last time you checked your service levels to be sure you were paying for the right size package? This could be your internet service provider, your website hosting, your email marketing system, among others. 

Also, is there anything you could eliminate altogether without causing too much heartache? Beyond technology, take a look at all the services you use on a regular basis. Are there smarter (cheaper) deals available? What about office cleaning? Are you paying for more than you need?  Examine existing contracts to identify areas you could free up resources.

Slash “This is what we’ve always done”

You don’t know how often executives say, “This has always worked.” That may be true, but the times, they have a’changed already. Case in point: Trade shows and swag. Trade shows (which are ostensibly marketing expenses) may have brought in solid prospects in prior years (or decades) but when was the last time you had anything more to show than a goldfish bowl full of business cards? Swag with your logo may also be marketing, but how do you measure its success? How many branded shirts, bags and doodads do you and your staff need?

You can’t afford not to content market

Please stop saying you can’t afford to budget for content marketing. The truth is you really can’t afford not to. Many businesses, especially smaller ones, feel that content marketing is too difficult to measure or doesn’t provide enough ROI. But have you tried?

Your content marketing budget doesn’t have to be huge. You do, however, have to commit to putting the time and effort into developing a content marketing strategy and sticking to it.

Forbes contributor, John Hall, says it well: “Content serves every marketing channel, so you’re wasting time claiming you don’t have the budget.”

Strategically investing marketing dollars leads to higher revenue, which leads to more money available for other opportunities.

The point is, you very likely do have at least some money for marketing, but it’s being spent in other ways – and not as effectively as it could be. Auditing expenses and considering letting them go or reducing them to make room for a true marketing strategy makes a lot of sense. (And cents!)

Our three-step marketing process begins with discovery.

Learn why in this Ultimate Guide to Marketing Discovery.

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