Welcome to our new blog series focusing on keeping the marketing show on the road despite budget cuts. In this series we’re going to take you through topics like driving marketing ROI, reducing marketing wastage, low-cost marketing tactics, reviewing the cost implications of in-house resource versus outsourcing and getting the most from your agency support.
In this first blog, we’re focusing on low-cost marketing tactics with six ways to make your marketing budgets last a little longer.
If you’ve had to reduce your advertising budgets but still want to keep your brand awareness up it’s a great time to consider alternative opportunities to advertise. Most businesses already have several opportunities to advertise their brand for free but don’t optimise these, here’s a few examples that may apply to you:
Van livery – Many vans you see on the road have very little branding or marketing messages, yet the very same companies are paying good money for Google search. Even fleets that carry the brand identity and contact details don’t often get creative by using them as mobile advertising billboards, with more specific calls to action. Studies show that a van driving generally within the M25 area could be seen by 3,000 people per hour*, making this form of advertising significantly cheaper than radio or TV! It’s well worth considering the cost of going beyond static logo’s, there are lots of economic ways to brand vehicles, give us a shout and we can guide you through options that suit your budget and vehicles. And if you haven’t got the budget for rebranding your fleet or you don’t own a fleet, how about giving your whole workforce car bumper stickers.
*In traffic-heavy areas – such as central London – vehicles can be viewed by more than 3,000 potential customers per hour, according to research published recently by multinational signage giants 3M.
Low-cost advertising idea: Vans driving around London will get on average 3,000 views per hour, make sure you optimise your assets.
Buildings – Another under-utilised advertising space are office, factory and warehouse buildings and car parks. You’ll need to consider your landlord or leasing agreements but consider the space you have and who your passing traffic might be. There are now good alternatives to the traditional canvas banners, like feather flags that flutter in the wind and grab attention to smarter banners with sturdy barriers.
Staff and customers – And of course the best form of mobile advertising can be people, who advertise your business without even realising with clever promotional items, from coffee cups to umbrellas, t-shirts to baseball caps and water bottles. It’s easy to cut budgets for promo items when you’re under cost pressure thinking they’re an indulgence but, in reality, as an advertising channel, they are very cost-effective and powerful, outperforming many digital advertising channels, with stats showing that a general piece of outwear (T-shirt etc.) generates over 5,000 impressions, so as digital channels get ever more competitive, this isn’t to be sniffed at. Click here for more info or give us a shout.
Products and packaging – So, your products are branded but how well are you optimising packaging and product inserts to promote other products? This is a great way to sell other items, particularly if you’re B2B, where this vital channel can easily be overlooked.
Giving your customers branded goods is one way to encourage them to market your business but there are lots of other ways they can help you raise your profile.
Asking for testimonials, case studies and referrals is always on the to-do list, so maybe this is the time to carry out a series of customer interviews and get those vital recommendations.
You can also ask your customers to join you on Webinars, for event speaker slots or maybe guest blogging their experiences of working with you or using your product.
Offering training courses to customers is another great and budget efficient way to keep in contact with old customers who perhaps don’t require your services now but may in the future. Keeping in contact in this ‘low-sell’ way helps you promote your new services/products without seeing this as a traditional sales or marketing channel and can often yield better results.
It’s all too easy to overlook the contribution the workforce can make to marketing, so what does it look like to become a marketing-led organisation and are you already one? Consider a few things to find out:
Most organisations have room for improvement in these areas, but with very little budget there’s lots you can do to nudge better performance in this area, from running internal social media training to setting up referral schemes.
Another great way to reduce budgets is to share them with others, collaborations and partnerships are a great way to do this. Perhaps you can’t afford the budget for that great customer insight or research piece you were hoping to carry out this year, but maybe partnering with other non-competitor brands might cut the cost whilst giving you access to a wider reach for publishing the findings, a win-win. Or running a join event could help share the costs of venues and marketing. Co-authoring thought leadership might give gravitas as well as double your distribution.
Whilst budgets might be tightening up for PPC and digital marketing this is a great time to focus on your organic SEO, content strategies and social media performance. From carrying out an SEO health check and working through the recommendations to reviewing social channel performance, there is always more that can be done to improve organic online reach. If you would like to talk to us about carrying out a full social review,click here
There’s no doubt the world around us is requiring a more ethical way of doing business, regardless of the sector you’re working within, doing good is good for business.
So during times of low budgets, it’s essential to return to your core brand purpose to maximise the impact you’re trying to make. If there’s something you can do to further that purpose this is a great time to get creative and stand out from your competitors, you might find that your marketing budget goes a lot further if the message is making you a force for good. A great example of this, is Nike making a stand against racism which considering the low production value of this piece and the zero advertising spend, generated valuable brand alignment during a difficult political situation.
If your marketing budgets have been cut, don’t give up hope, this is the time to be creative with how you spend the money you have. We’ll keep you posted in this blog series on how to reduce marketing wastage, how to make the most of your agency resource and more, in the meantime if you like to talk to us about how we can help.