Marketing Budget

7 Ways to Get Results: From a Small Marketing Budget

You already know you need marketing, but the question is how much do you need? What marketing activities will get you to your goals? To create a marketing budget look at how much you can potentially spend and think about what goals you want to reach. Say for instance, if I spend $100 I want to make at least $150 in sales. Because, without a return on investment your efforts are wasted.

By looking at lead conversion rates, average cost of sales, and cost of goods you can determine exactly what you need to sell in order to make the whole process feasible. It often pays to do one marketing activity really well rather than spread yourself thin doing the bare minimum on a multitude of platforms.

Start with the basics: email, social media, and your website. These are three things that are a must. A small marketing budget doesn’t have to limit your efforts. Time can be your very best friend when branching out into new marketing strategies.

Here are seven things you can do to make that small marketing budget work overtime.

1. Don’t Rush Into Content – Without Targeting

Remember the basics, of course! Understand this one important piece, why do people care about what you are selling? Don’t get stuck as simply another nameless face filling the spam boxes of executives.

  • Who’s the targeted audience – It’s not everyone!
  • How does your product provide value – you are not the lowest cost provider this position is overused.
  • Where is your competitive niche in the market landscape?
  • What is your identity in 10 seconds?

Then turn this information into a 1 – 2 sentence positioning statement.

“For (customer segment), our product/service is (important benefits – reason to buy), because compared to (primary competition – key differentiators).”

You’ve got to learn how to communicate a brands’ relevance to a targeted market.


2. Start Small and Test Like Crazy

Nearly everyone has an opinion on what type of message, graphic, article topic, layout, media, etc., will attract the attention of the most ready-to-buy prospects. The result is that marketing decisions are often based on who can shout the loudest or has the highest rank. Everything, and anything digital has made it easy to compare the effectiveness of different marketing approaches. Marketers, for once, have a way to enforce solid attribution models.

For example, you can develop several different e-mail marketing campaigns each based on a different target audience, distribute them to your prospects, and determine within hours which one is more effective. Or distribute content over multiple social media platforms and see what drives the most results.

For some industries, direct mail provides the opportunity to inexpensively test different marketing messages with small test mailings that can provide an answer in a few weeks to the question of which message is the most effective. Integrate all of these tests with an attribution tracking plan and you’ll see your sales pipeline grow. When you don’t have money, your only friend is time, so you’ll rely heavily on efficiencies. Finally, for your social media campaigns, you will want to measure awareness, and then use metrics such as volume, reach, exposure, sentiment, and amplification. How far is your message spreading?

A/B testing a website can be fairly difficult depending on the platform and if manual coding is involved but A/B testing for emails is fairly straight-forward. MailChimp has free A/B testing with the forever free account type. Email marketing is still around and thriving because it’s relatively cheap and it gets the job done.

MailChimp Free

Email is promising for businesses because as of December of 2016, email open rates across all industries was at 16.37% and click-through rates were at 7.08%. Compared to organic views on social media these metrics are impressive. Recently, there has been a myriad of people talking about the 40-52% decline of organic views in the second quarter of 2016 for Facebook.

Email also has the added benefit of allowing you complete control over who receives it. If you create buyer personas and sort out customers in your customer database email becomes and even more powerful tool where the right message is reaching the right people. The same can be said for paid social media advertising, we’ll talk more about that in section five.

3. Take Advantage of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization is geared towards making websites rank better in search results for specific keywords/phrases, which allows companies to respond to a want or need. If a business wants a Denver marketing agency, they will likely search for “marketing agency in Denver” or something along those lines, and over 40% of Google users click on the #1 result. Therefore, SEO is very consumer-driven and produces high conversion rates. Depending on the product or service being marketed, as well as the geographic region, getting the #1 slot can be very easy or extremely difficult.

To increase your SEO make sure all of your information is exactly the same across all platforms on the web. This means the same company name and address in the same format. This is known to the local SEO experts as NAP management. Signing up for Google Plus and cleaning up third party review sites like Yelp can also increase your local SEO by making your web presence more coherent. If you want to dive in deeper check out this list of 50+ local directories.

If you’ve started a blog make sure to keep it up to date by publishing on a regular schedule typically, the more frequently the better. Websites that post blogs 11+ times a month see the best results. There is no “easy way” to start ranking as Google has an easy handle on black hat SEO techniques. Your best off doing it right the first time by following the over 200 SEO ranking factors.

Blog Leads

Relevancy to customers is essential to SEO rankings. Average time spent on a page tells Google that people searching for key terms either love or hate the content of the site. This means that your site’s ranking can be beneficially or detrimentally impacted based on how people use it. This is why high-quality content is so important. Whatever your business is you must make sure that your content resonates with that target audience. has a wonderful blog dedicated to marketing and an emphasis on ranking strategies. Brian Dean has a video on YouTube that breaks down the APP Formula. This is a formula that grabs the visitor’s attention resulting in longer average time on your page and a higher ranking for your website. APP stands for agree, promise, preview. This strategy means relating to your visitor by agreeing with a struggle they are likely to have had, assure them that your content can lend insight into the problem and lastly, give them a glimpse which can be one or two sentences summarizing the point of the content.

4. Maximize the Use of Reviews and Referrals

The most cost-effective method of reaching new customers is by referrals from satisfied customers. A satisfied customer telling others about your small business is more effective than any fancy ad campaign. Spend time to get customer referrals on a weekly basis. Let customers know their feedback is important to the success of your business.

Referrals and reviews are free. And a great tool for spreading the word about your business. Now, reviews can make or break a small business, so while you want to encourage them, be sure to monitor and respond to them. Start by claiming your business listing on sites like Google Places, Yelp, and Yahoo Local, and monitor and respond to reviews. If a customer searches for products or service by location, then there is a good chance that your listing will show up near the top of the results page. Don’t shy away from criticism or feedback on social media either; use this information and commit to making changes and improvements. Let your critics know that their feedback is heard.

Plus, review sites like Yelp have a strong ad presence among small businesses and are almost always throwing out free advertising opportunities. Yelp is currently running a giveaway of $450 in free advertising. This dries up fast, however it can provide the evidence you need to determine if a certain marketing channel is prime to drive results.


5. Switch From a Retainer-based to a Results-based Agency Relationship

Most PR and advertising agencies prefer to work for a retainer or charge an hourly rate for their services. This approach provides them with a steady flow of income, though the client incurs continuing costs without any assured results. A new approach is provided by agencies that charge for results, wherever the results of their efforts can easily be measured. Such as their ability to place a particular article or publication. Where results can’t be easily measured, like as writing an article, they charge a flat fee for the project that is fixed in advance and includes any changes required to gain the client’s satisfaction.

This approach can dramatically reduce the cost of a marketing effort. But besides being lower, results-based marketing costs tend to be incurred later in the program at the same time as results are achieved. Another advantage is that far less time and effort are required to supervise an agency whose fee is results-based because both parties’ goals are aligned.

By working on set goals in order to get paid there’s accountability and the customer knows exactly what they’re paying for.

6. Get on Social Media (Spend a Little)

In a recent post on social media management tools, we laid out what platforms all businesses should be using and then addressed the additional ones that businesses should consider using depending on their industry. Social Media is a free way to get yourself out there and spark consumer interest without having to spend a whole lot of money. Social media requires constant attention and websites are continually decreasing organic views to improve the user experience and at the same time they’re enhancing the value of paid advertisements.

The bottom line is what most businesses are interested in and having something that allows you to accurately track exactly how much money is being made is essential to success. Here are a few statistics about social media versus other paid advertisement methods:

For B2C businesses, Facebook was rated the highest at 66% effectiveness followed by YouTube at 53%, and Twitter at 50% (Social Media Examiner).

A survey by found that out of 551 respondents found that 95.8% found Facebook to have the highest ROI followed Twitter at 63% and Instagram at 37.7%. Respondents were allowed to choose up to three platforms which is why the numbers don’t add up to 100.

This isn’t a mass delusion, Facebook reported an increase of 75% in their clients ROI or in this case ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) and in 2016 it was up 33% year over year.

It’s worth noting that as the success of ad spend continues to grow so do the prices for it. This means the likeliness of a successful campaign is higher, although, you have to be willing to shell out a little bit more money to do it.

As of Q2, 2016 the CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) for Facebook was approximately $7.29 and most likely has risen up to about $7.50 by this time. The actually cost is dependent on many factors having to do with ad relevance and the target customers for the ad, so your mileage may vary; it’s still a great value proposition.

7. Take Greater Advantage of Free Publicity Opportunities

Business journals, trade, and online publications are more than willing to give you space to deliver your message to their audience. The catch is that you need to provide them with materials that help them meet their goal of increasing the loyalty of their readers. Also, watch their editorial calendars for opportunities. The most important factor in placing articles is understanding the concept of news value, something that will grab the attention of your target audience. News value can come from helping a customer make a dramatic improvement in their operations, developing a new way to solve a problem or introducing a product that does something that no other product does. The fact that your product did what it is supposed to do or has features that are superior to competition rarely constitutes news value.

It’s often quite difficult for companies to take an objective view of what is newsworthy about their product. An organization that is experienced in working with publications that target your customers and prospects can provide the valuable service of objectively determining what is newsworthy about your products. They can then create articles and place them in social media, print, and online publications. The approach of emphasizing the news value of a product can also improve your sales literature, website, and other marketing programs. 

An easy way to start generating additional buzz is to jump on free or paid media aggregators and answer pre-populated media queries. Reporters & bloggers need high quality content. They can submit queries and have experts at their fingertips (ideally you!) on these aggregator source sites. 

Don’t Give Up

Too many marketers think that a small marketing budget is a death sentence. I say, they just aren’t crafty enough to drive results. Anything worth achieving in business or life takes time and effort, or else everyone would be doing it. Keep your efforts focused and understand where your highest converting prospects are coming from.

Leave us a comment. Let us know what you think and what you do to with a lower marketing budget.