Do you have a marketing budget in place for 2016?

28azb2016If you’re like most small businesses, you probably don’t. Budgets are difficult for most business owners. Money is tight. With hard expenses and never knowing how good sales will be, many simply can’t afford or won’t spend what they do have in the bank. That, however, is a problem.  Everything you do to attract customers requires some money. Even free networking events have a hard cost. You still need business cards, right?

Assuming you’re starting the year off with only a small marketing budget available to spend to start the year, I’m going to recommend you take two big steps for 2016:
Set up another bank account.  The goal here is to build, even if it’s a modest one, a marketing reserve for 2017.  If you’re disciplined, this account will ONLY be used for your 2017 marketing.

For each sale you make in 2016, deposit 5% of the net revenue into this account.
Create a list of all of the marketing activities you’re planning for 2016.  This will allow you to prioritize these activities and write down what you can afford to budget for each.
A few ideas for this list:
Automate. If you don’t already have a system in place to automate some of your workflow, leads and customer communication, this is the one area I highly recommend you invest. Automation helps free your time to more effectively run and grow your business while still being able to remain Top of Mind with your existing customers.  The monthly cost is far outweighed in the long term by the time saved and the increase in revenue.
Email marketing.  This one integrates with my point above. It’s still very effective when implemented appropriately. It’s also easier (and generally less expensive) to reach out to existing customers than converting new ones. It’s one of the best ways to market on a limited budget. If you’ve never considered automating some of your systems, talk to us first.  We can step you through how effective and easy this can be.
Networking.  This is another great way to market yourself when you have limited funds. There are generally free or low cost events if you do the research on Facebook or the on line calendars. Be sure to find those which are most likely to put you in front of your audience. That might mean finding events or tradeshows your customers attend and not traditional events.  The key here is follow up, follow up, follow up.
Get some training. Social media and online marketing is a great way to connect with others, provide customer service and generate leads if you do it right! It’s far more effective when you take control of your own accounts (with some help along the way) then paying someone to manage them for you.  Learn how to do it properly for yourself.  Check out the Tucson Marketing Professionals.

Consider allocating some of your budget to paid ads as you have additional funds available.

Your website. This is closely tied to your online marketing. It’s your best lead generation and sales tool. If it’s outdated, hire a professional to get it back on track. The money spent here to have it done correctly will save you frustration and hassles later.
Hire a professional. Yes, this does mean some of your marketing budget will be spent on something other than direct marketing activities BUT you’re the best at what you do. People hire or buy from you for that reason. Why aren’t you doing the same? Hiring the right experts will mean you’ll spend less in the long run and you’ll know you’re spending your money in the right places.
Creating a budget isn’t easy. It’s even harder to risk spending money when you aren’t guaranteed a return. Failing to spend, however, is not the answer.  Spending smart is. Without a budget, even a limited one, you cannot make smart choices or determine if and where you’re spending those limited dollars is helping.

If you’d like to talk more about your budget and your 2016 marketing efforts, I’m here to help!
MJ Jensen, Chief Idea Officer, IdeaMagic visionary marketing & social media
Infusionsoft Certified Partner