Let’s say you have a startup or a small business with a brilliant product or service. Marketing the product/service effectively is the only way one can go about ensuring a loyal base of customers. At this point, it is imperative to have a budget for marketing, in other words, an amount of money that is earmarked for marketing. This budget can be utilized towards paid advertising, generating web/social media content, social media promotions and more. Among the working costs of a company, the marketing budget accounts for about 11% on an average, according to WebStrategies, Inc.
Aligning the budget with marketing goals is the first step in making a marketing budget and once this is done, it can be utilized for maximum effect.
Going by the average of 11% of a company’s working cost, it is a significant chunk of money and there are several ways one can optimize how the budget can be utilized to ensure a decent return on investment. To put it in startup jargon, there are many ‘hacks’ that ensure effective marketing on a minimal budget. A part of it can be allocated for traditional forms of marketing like paid advertising, advertorials in media, etc. and the rest can be utilized for hiring an in-house marketing team or freelance marketers and for hacks like social media marketing, guerilla marketing, co-marketing and more.
We’ve elaborated a couple of techniques that work on an excellent budget:
Social media marketing is slightly tricky but if done right, is one with a low risk and return ratio as it is all about generating the right kind of content to strike the right chord among your target audience. Infographics and small videos with information related to your product/service and not necessarily about your wares, ensure a good reach on social media. Also, online contests and the likes will go a long way towards generating a fair amount of engagement with the audiences and highlighting your brand online. Leveraging social media influencers and strategically using paid promotion features of social media platforms are one area where this form of marketing costs money (apart from what it takes to generate the content) but on a whole, it costs a lot lesser than traditional advertising.
Co-marketing works in a simple you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-your-back wherein two or more companies with a similar target audience can run a common campaign benefitting all the partners. It can be done between companies of similar size or between a big company and a small one. There are also risks involved if one of the partners doesn’t deliver up to the mark but the returns far outweigh the risks as co-marketing ensures a good reach online, especially if one company is much smaller than the other. Co-marketing can be done for online campaigns, webinars, and during offline events, conferences, etc.
Guerilla marketing is another effective way of utilizing the marketing budget. Akin to the shock and awe tactics of guerilla warfare, guerilla marketing employs unconventional tactics to ensure they connect with their audiences. In fact, most of the guerilla marketing techniques directly involve the audiences and are interactive. A prime example would be the campaign that Coca Cola did for expat workers in UAE in 2014. In that, Coca Cola set up phone booths where people could pay for calls with Coca Cola bottle caps. It served two purposes as it gave the workers an easy way to talk to their families back home (as opposed to paying the unaffordable prices of international calls) and it gave the beverage giant a massive boost on social media. PETA also employs similar tactics to promote their cause.
Cooperative marketing is another tactic that can be employed by two or more businesses. It differs from co-marketing in the sense that co-marketing involves jointly running a marketing campaign or conducting a branding event while cooperative marketing involves utilizing each other’s brand image for mutual benefit. For instance, every big mall has either McDonald’s or Starbucks and it can use that to advertise itself and vice versa. Another example would be how travel websites have tie-ups with airlines, hotels, etc. and offer discounts upon making a purchase through their website. This way, both the website and the other party are being benefited at one shot.
Having a clear idea of the resources you have at hand, that include not just your finances, but also your time and effort that goes into these campaigns, helps one to easily choose among many of the options available to market your product/service. It is also extremely important to note that presence of a financial backup can only influence the marketing decision to an extent, since the content and process takes precedence over the former, after a point.