5 steps to keep your marketing costs down – without sacrificing effectiveness

marketing1When developing plans for marketing your business, there are a lot of factors you need to take into consideration. You want to reach a broad audience, but you want to particularly focus on people who are most likely interested in your offerings. You want to reward your existing customers while also attracting new ones. You want to distinguish yourself from your competitors. And you need to do all of this without letting your marketing costs get out of control.

This last goal is often the sticking point. It can be really difficult to achieve all of your marketing objectives without breaking the bank. Fortunately, though, this isn’t impossible, so long as you have the right strategy in place.

Here are five steps to maximize your marketing efforts while keeping costs down.

1. Use social media

Social media marketing is now widely considered essential for business marketing, and with good reason. Millions of people use social media on a daily basis, making this a great channel for reaching out to new and potential customers.

Even more importantly, people love to share things on social media. Facebook posts, tweets, Instagram photos – there is a natural tendency to tell others about those things that interest us. If you can develop a loyal, enthusiastic following on social media, your fans and customers will become voluntary evangelists for your brand, disseminating your offers and news more effectively than you possibly could yourself.

And, just as significantly, social media marketing is free. While it is true that some companies use paid sponsorships and advertising on these channels, to make sure that their posts and offers are readily visible to unaffiliated users, most firms don’t bother with such efforts. After all, these ads don’t really speak to the true strength of social media marketing, which is all about real, passionate customers choosing to tell others about the benefits of your organization. Other consumers are a lot more likely to pay attention to their friends and families’ posts about your company than a generic advertisement that popped up on their screens.

2. Recruit existing staff

One of the problems with social media marketing, though, is that it’s very time consuming. You can’t write posts and tweets here and there and expect to see any real results – you need to put up new and engaging content regularly, and frequently. That takes time and commitment, which most business owners can’t afford to spare. But hiring a professional firm to handle your business’s social media efforts can be expensive, and may not be worthwhile for your particular organization.

That’s why you should look to your existing staff for social media help. No matter the size of your business, there’s a good chance that at least a few of your current employees are big fans of social media, maintaining multiple accounts on different platforms. And a lot of these workers would pounce on the opportunity to make social media part of their professional responsibilities. Thanks to their enthusiasm, these workers can be incredibly effective social marketing managers for your company. They can help you to greatly improve your marketing results without having to hire outside experts.

marketin23. Look to experts

That being said, it still may make sense for you to turn to third-party professionals to boost your marketing efforts, social media-based and otherwise. Not only can this potentially improve your results, but it may save you money, as well.

Every form of marketing – email, social, TV, radio, mail and so on – is essentially a tool that your company wants to use to gain more customers and improve the bottom line. These tools represent an investment. But if you don’t have the expertise in-house to use these resources as effectively as possible, you’re essentially wasting money, as well as time and effort. Your results will be mediocre, and your return on investment will be poor.

By spending some money on outside experts, you can make the most out of your marketing efforts, which will ultimately save you money in the long run.

Importantly, seeking out third-party experts doesn’t necessarily need to cost your company an arm and a leg. You need to be cautious when searching for options, comparing the marketing advising services available to you. Aim to keep as much of your marketing operations in-house as possible, and look for consulting expertise to guide your efforts.

4. Focus on customer service

Another great way to improve your marketing without breaking the bank is by upgrading your customer service offerings.

Customer service is critical for every business – this much is obvious. If your firm doesn’t take customer service seriously, you’ll lose clients and struggle to develop a robust, enthusiastic fan base.

What’s less often acknowledged, though, is that customer service can play a key role in marketing efforts, as Business 2 Community contributor Brandon Snyder recently highlighted. He emphasized that high-quality customer service will lead to positive word-of-mouth advertising, which can prove invaluable from a marketing perspective. He cited a recent National Federation of Independent Business survey which found that 82 percent of participating business owners said that word-of-mouth had a major impact on their overall sales revenue.

If a person has a very positive experience with a given company, he or she is likely to tell others about it. Even more importantly, these personal stories will have more of an impact than your average marketing effort because  they are both coming from a known source and highlight a very key aspect of the company’s offerings. Thanks to the rise of social media, customer service’s marketing impact has grown even further, as your clients will quite possibly use these channels to tell even more people about their experiences with your firm.

And since customer service is an essential feature of your business anyway, this represents a powerful strategy for increasing your marketing results without actually increasing your marketing budget.

5. Test everything

No matter what marketing strategies you ultimately settle on, you need to make sure to test everything, regularly and with conviction, as Andrew Rush of Propel Marketing recently highlighted.

Writing for the Taunton Daily Gazette, Rush emphasized that testing should be a key part of any marketing strategy. After all, businesses have a tremendous number of options for their marketing efforts, and it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to figure out which ones will prove the most useful for a given company. Trial and error is often the only real option for finding the right options, Rush explained.

These tests must be ongoing. Even once you think you’ve settled on one or more marketing channel, you need to continue to monitor your results, tweaking your tactics as time goes on, and potentially making major changes if you have reason to doubt your current strategy. If you don’t take such steps, you may end up wasting your financial resources on marketing efforts that are less than ideal for your company. Testing is not only ideal for optimizing results, but it will also save you money over time.

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