Marketing is the one area where businesses spend an overwhelming percentage of their budget.
The "magic number" for a marketing budget is 10 percent. But that number isn't right for everyone. Salesforce, for example, spends more than 50 percent of their budget on sales and marketing. Twitter invests a whopping 44 percent of their budget into marketing.
Marketing is expensive but necessary. For the small and struggling startup, such massive expenditures can seem risky.
Is there a way to avoid gut-wrenching expenditures but still maximize your marketing power?
I want to explain several of the ways I've learned to improve marketing without breaking the bank.
Hire a rockstar marketer by offering equity instead of a fat salary.
The first technique pertains to the HR department. People are expensive, but you need people to do marketing.
How do you attract the best talent for your business without a fat budget?
You offer something other than salary. In the case of most businesses, you offer equity.
For a growth-hacking hustler who plans on giving all he's got, equity is very appealing. For all the value that they add and the customers they attract, marketers deserve solid equity packages.
In one fell swoop, you get the talent you crave, the cash flow level you want, and the action-oriented work ethic that you need to take your marketing to the next level.
Use content marketing as your primary method.
Content marketing is the marketing method of choice for today's smart businesses.
What is content marketing? According to the Content Marketing Institute, "Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience -- with the objective of driving profitable customer action."
What does content marketing look like? It may look something like this:
- Guest blogging
Compared with traditional marketing methods, content marketing has terrific ROI. Although some agencies struggle with figuring out the exact ROI numbers, it's clear that it outperforms conventional marketing techniques.
Launching a content marketing initiative costs next to nothing. Provided you have the right time and resources, you can let loose with a firestorm of top-notch content and high-converting resources.
To be clear, content marketing isn't free. You need resources, tools, people, time, and talent to pull off great marketing. But it is valuable, and that's the kind of needle-moving action you need.
Purchase systems instead of hiring people.
Today, there is a system or software for doing just about anything.
- Posting content on social media? Buffer.
- Recycling old posts? Meet Edgar.
- Gaining Twitter followers? Tweepi.
- Interpreting your data? Tons of SaaS options.
- Eliminating harmful backlinks? Link Research Tool.
Basically, if it's a marketing task, someone has probably already made software for it.
This is great news for you. Smart marketing software might be pricey, but not when you compare it to the cost of a) not using that particular marketing method, or 2) hiring someone to do the same job.
For example, you could hire two people to do the job that two software systems could handle. The task takes ten minutes as opposed to 50 man hours.
You're saving some serious cash when you spend money on the right kind of SaaS. Find the systems and processes that will eliminate the need for more personnel, lots of time, and unnecessary busy work.
Start with strategy rather than with tactics.
One expensive mistake that marketers make is starting with tactics rather than strategy.
Tactics are specific actions. An example of a tactic is using a big orange button as the call to action on your landing page. It's small, specific, and easy to implement.
The problem with tactics is that they can waste time and resources. By focusing on tactics, many marketers miss the bigger picture in their marketing efforts.
Basically, it's a recipe for failure.
Tactics cost money, but strategy is free. Besides, strategy is so much more powerful than any set of marketing tactics.
Rather than rush into your marketing bristling with tactics and smart ideas that you copied from your competitors, push the reset button: Start with strategy.
Strategy starts with the basic questions of marketing:
- Who is our audience?
- What are they passionate about?
- What are their interests?
- What social platforms do they spend their time on?
A strategic approach to marketing will keep you from getting lost in the weeds of tactics and will make your marketing much more effective in much less time.
Study growth hacking.
Growth hacking has changed the way that marketing works today.
Growth hacking wipes the slate clean of the traditional marketing methods and provides a framework for reaching today's audiences on their own turf.
Traditional marketing is really expensive. Growth hacking, by contrast, is often low cost or even free.
When Airbnb set out to saturate the world with their disruptive concept, they didn't use a single billboard or direct mailing. Instead, they hacked Craigslist, the world's largest source for renting lodging.
Airbnb wouldn't be where it is now if they hadn't growth hacked their way to success.
Dropbox also unleashed a growth hacking move. Instead of investing heavily in paid ads, they invested heavily in their users. They offered more storage space in exchange for referrals. Dropbox grew by olympic long jumps thanks to this hack.
Here are some other growth hacking techniques:
- Email marketing
- Conversion optimization
- Link building
- Building a personal brand
- Guest posting
Marketing is one area in which you should be spending as freely as possible, without jeopardizing your business's existence.
Marketing matters. Your marketing budget matters. But when the cash is low and the need is high, you have a roadmap for success right here.
What budget-friendly marketing advice would you offer?