Marketing on a shoestring budget becomes less challenging

In today’s tough economic climate, marketing budgets are expected to work harder then ever. At the same time, technological advancements of the past decade have made it much easier to reduce promotional spending.

Here are a few ways to get the most out of your marketing dollars.

Reduce placement costs

For businesses that advertise, ad placement cost is perhaps the most significant budgetary factor. The reason why advertising dollars continue migrating from print to digital media—which ranges from online news Web sites to smartphone and tablet apps—is because such outlets sell ad space at a fraction of the cost of traditional print and broadcast while delivering a much more targeted audience and measured audience response.
Consider that even the most esoteric of enthusiasts can easily find a dozen blogs and likely an online forum of likeminded peers. Advertising to this highly specialized audience—of rock climbers, thimble collectors or widget users—starts at just a few dollars per month through direct arrangement with their owners.
There are also numerous other pay-for-placement opportunities, from offering bloggers nominal incentives to write about your product or company to utilizing larger advertising services like Google AdWords.

Bring some creative functions in-house

Another new advantage for marketers is access to software and services that drastically cut production costs for print and web-based collateral.
For example, there are numerous online resources that help novices design web sites and brochures with easy-to-use template-based interfaces. Other retailers sell stock art—anything from £1 photos and illustrations to video and sound clips—that can add pizzazz to do-it-yourself posters and home pages.
While it is likely not a good idea to shoot your own television commercials, today’s marketers can still reallocate a significant portion of the funds they previously spent on graphic designers, photographers and other creative consultants.

Reconsider print promotion

If your business simply cannot do without direct mail or catalogues, online services can help greatly reduce printing costs—by utilizing digital printing technologies or moving their own production facilities to less expensive locations. Similarly, on-demand printing can help reduce your total spending by producing only the quantities you need when you need them, even if it is just a dozen pieces.
More importantly, however, every marketer should consider whether or not digital communications methods can efficiently substitute more costly print materials. For instance, replacing just one direct mail campaign with email can mean thousands of dollars in savings without a loss in effectiveness for the same mailing list, such as an existing client mailing.

Expand online lead generation

Online marketing is not just a way to reduce printing costs; it has become one of the primary ways to do business. Customer and prospect expectations have grown well beyond just being able to find your business online.
Today, you must have a useful web site, one that helps your clients do their jobs, learn something new, entertain them or otherwise justify repeated visits. And in order to make each of those visits count towards your bottom line, you need significant traffic.
Blogging, using social networks and participating in online groups and forums is not only cheaper than traditional advertising, it is also more effective in growing traffic, because it positions your company as a source of valuable knowledge and creates trust.
Remember the basics. While technology has created many new tools and venues, it has not changed the fundamentals of the marketing discipline. It remains entirely about audience targeting and repeat exposure. As such, marketers biggest challenge remains the how, not the how much—how to most effectively spend available marketing dollars, not the size of the overall budget.