Marketing is like most things – you get out of it what you put into it. There are a lot of issues that affect the quality and results of your marketing efforts, but one thing that we often see is a half-assed effort that is expected to produce great results. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. What you get out of your marketing efforts is going to directly correlate (in most cases, and within reason) with the budget and time that you put into it. Going viral by luck, skateboarding down the street listening to Fleetwood Mac, is about as likely as getting struck by lightning. It’s just not going to happen, so don’t count on it.
But, we all know that you’re not Apple, and you don’t have their resources. So what do you do when you have a realistic (or small) budget?
Set Realistic Expectations
You can’t expect to spend next to nothing and magically get the same return as the big players in the game. It’s just not realistic. Set realistic expectations based on your budget. Your marketing agency or marketing department should be able to help with this. Essentially what we recommend doing as a ballpark is to:
- Determine your average cost per click/impression
- Estimate a conversion rate based on your industry, past experience, and campaign type. This can vary greatly and we recommend erring on the conservative side. Estimate 2-3% if you really have no idea.
- Determine the number of clicks you’ll get based on your budget and multiply it by your conversion rate. Then multiply that by the average value of the leads you are expecting to receive.
It’s a very simple, no-brainer formula, but most people don’t even think about it. Instead they go right into “We have a $1,000/month budget, and we think we should be able to get $30,0000 in leads over the first month or two on an unknown product.” Setting yourself up for realistic expectations will help your campaign to be much more successful. Not only will your goals be more accurate, but you’ll also make better strategic decisions knowing what is realistic.
Focus Your Budget on Limited Platforms
The worst thing you could do with a limited budget is to try too many platforms. Essentially what you’ll do is dilute your budget so much that you’ll be effective at nothing. Yes, your competitors may be advertising on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Google, and doing retargeting all over the internet. If you don’t have the budget to compete with them everywhere, you need to compete with them in strategic places. Pick one or two platforms and heavily focus there. You may miss out on some opportunities elsewhere, but that’s better than missing out on opportunities everywhere.
The same concept can also apply to other areas, such as demographics or service offerings. Focus on a few things and do them really well. Don’t have the budget to go nationally? Find a few geographic regions that you think you could do really well in and create a huge presence there. It’s like having a billboard on every corner as opposed to having just one in a remote part of town in 50 different cities. Saturation matters. Focus your efforts. You can’t be everything to everyone, and it’s wasteful to try.
Find Extra Budget by Cutting Waste
Speaking of waste, the amount of waste in most marketing budgets is remarkable. If you cut waste, you’ll be amazed at the extra budget you can find. There are a few different ways that you can find waste.
- Ego Marketing – We see this one a lot with larger medical practices. Doctors seem to love to see themselves (or new staff) on billboards. In all honesty, this really doesn’t provide significant benefit. This is one of those things that makes you feel good, but provides little financial return. Billboards are fine if you’re trying to create massive awareness in a passive way, but are largely ineffective in providing direct, tangible results. There are all kinds of spend like this which you could probably cut if you want to grow your business and your marketing budget is strapped. Re-evaluate your media spend, sponsorships, ads, etc. and ask yourself “Can I prove that this is providing value, and what do we lose if we cut this off?”
Of course, there are some things like sponsoring the local high school that have additional benefits that aren’t monetary (like supporting your community). We’re not saying don’t do any of this. We’re saying evaluate and be picky about what you do.
- Look at the spend within your marketing campaigns. Review all your campaigns, even good ones, and look for waste. For example, in Google Ads, we are amazed at the money that is wasted when we take over a PPC account. The number of irrelevant keywords that are being bid on without anyone even realizing it is staggering. This is a quick way to recover a ton of money that is just getting thrown out the window each month.
- Invest in high performers, cut the rest. Chances are, you’ll see that there are campaigns that are performing much better than others. Cut anything that is low performing and put that money into your stronger performing ads. Then, if you have a little wiggle room, experiment with a new campaign, optimize it, and compare it to other strong campaigns. Cut it if it’s a weak performer, shift funds into it if it works well.
Be Smart About Your Spend
Ultimately, a limited budget just means you have to be smarter about how you spend. Your room for error is a little less, and you need to be more focused in how you approach things. Need a little more help and insight? Let us know and we’d be happy to help.