It is a question launched by the first pioneers of business. How much should be spent on marketing activities in order to ensure an acceptable level of sustainability and growth, particularly for small emerging businesses? Even after centuries of operating experience, professional marketers continue to openly debate the question, generally in hopes of finding the magic that will consistently produce a single, right answer. The correct answer is most often elusive and is always different depending upon the type and size of each commercial venture. Like so many other important questions, there is no single, correct answer. For nearly all emerging start-up businesses there are limited funds to devote to building a brand’s reputation, gaining exposure and acquiring customers through an integrated marketing campaign. So, how can small, emerging companies build an effective marketing campaign on a tight budget?
All things marketing begins with developing a comprehensive marketing strategy that is built around a well-defined goal and a budget with specific and objective priorities. There is never a time to be wasteful with resources regardless of a company’s position in a business lifecycle. But for an emerging new venture, failure to extract every ounce of benefit from each marketing campaign’s spend can shorten the brand’s lifecycle. Focus initial efforts around specific actions that provide the most immediate return on time and budget spent. Institutional or legacy campaigns produce longer term responses so they should be avoided at the outset.
Seek out the digital channels and collateral that are likely to produce the quickest results and meaningful connections with a targeted audience. Tame the immensity of the beast by providing potential customers one solution at a time and create fewer but high-quality messages that will break through all the competitive noise. Writing impactful website blogs, producing how-to videos, and utilizing sharp images to demonstrate a brand’s purpose and promise is a content strategy that can elevate a brand’s authority in the field, promote increased customer interactions, and foster a better understanding of the needs of the audience.
Identify no-cost options like social media platforms (the new word of mouth advertising). Support and participate in community-sponsored events and promote employee inclusion and involvement. Some things that are free can have real value. Build loyalty among followers by offering rewards, and create an ongoing loyalty program that will inspire and retain customers. Utilize emails and organic newsletters to remain relevant and connected with charter customers and followers.
Involve employees in the effort by assigning social media tasks during unproductive work intervals. Many younger employees are social media savvy and proficient at utilizing engaging messages to peers and family members. More than 4.2 billion people are active across multiple social media platforms, each spending an average of 2 hours and 25 minutes per day on multiple channels, making social media a primary marketing pathway for global commerce. Employees can also be a valuable resource by getting the word out among company followers. Including them often provides an opportunity for them to feel as though they have an important and integral role to play in the growth of the business.
Be certain to establish a comprehensive system of measurement to ascertain the effectiveness of every campaign. Revisit original assumptions and adapt each campaign to optimize its performance. Be customer centric, listen to your followers and strive to do what the competition cannot or is unwilling to do to find solutions for consumers.
And remember, “The single most wasteful thing you can do in marketing is try to change a mind.” –Al Ries