“I want to advertise our new product and I have $12,000. Is that enough?” In 2016, with tight budgets, growing costs and shrinking margins, you can image this conversation happens often. The new normal is riddled with lofty goals and challenged budgets. Champagne taste on a beer budget anyone? In a hyper competitive world of marketing and social media, it’s easy to fall into that category. And while we all want large budgets to help slay the dragons, sometimes brands must take on the role of David when advertising in a category full of Goliaths.
While we can’t work miracles, fear not, there can be solutions for every budget size out there. When challenged with a small budget, there are a few items we look at when creating a recommendation. None will move heaven and earth, but together they will dramatically increase the likeliness of generating a meaningful return.
- First order of business is figuring out who your audience is. Unless you’re selling oxygen, everyone with a pulse isn’t your audience. If you look close enough at your product, the value it delivers, and who it matters to most, you’ll narrow in on a very specific segment of people. Those are who you want in your cross-hairs. The more you pay attention to and speak with extremely qualified prospects, the easier it is to sell your product. The deeper understanding you have of your audience, the greater ability you have to determine which media tactic you should invest your precious budget in. And a more focused audience segmentation means less waste when buying media.
- The campaign must have a home. That is, a place where the customer can find more information, communicate with the product, or even make a purchase. If you can’t afford an award-winning site with a killer user interface (UI), amazing photography and video, and live chat, there are alternatives. Facebook is a great place to set up shop. If 1.7 billion hang out on Facebook, it’s probably a focal point of people’s daily media habits. So, go ahead, build out a page, tell the product’s story and generate a home for customers. After all, it’s free.
- While you’re on Facebook telling the story, promote some content and run some ads. Remember that highly defined audience from #1 above? Well, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are perfect for communicating with them. Most of them spend an overwhelming majority of their time checking their feeds. And the targeting capabilities of such platforms are very powerful. Want to focus on a particular age, geography or interest? Check. Ads and promoted posts are extremely affordable to create, run and manage. Perfect for small budget initiatives. Oh, and the data. Facebook has amazing data on who is engaging with your brand. And it’s free. All there to help get smarter about who is interested in your brand.
- Get involved. There are many events, organizations or “communities” that your audience associates with. Go to where your audience is. Most opportunities require minimal financial investment, but do require you to do some footwork and get your hands dirty. The dividends are face to face interaction with an extremely qualified audience at an affordable price tag.
- Finally, consider the traditional media options. Radio for instance is still affordable and is highly focused on specifics demographics. Not to mention radio is great for attaining frequency for a product. Out of home (i.e. billboards) are still one of my favorites. If you’re going old school with static vinyl placement the production costs can add up if you’re employing multiple boards. But the impact, awareness and frequency is hard to beat. Digital boards are even better since they eliminate the need to produce vinyl. The tradeoff is digital boards cost more and you share the location with half a dozen other brands.
While small budgets are a challenge, all hope is not lost. With a little bit of work and some creativity, there are subtle things a marketer can do to achieve a ROI. Thinking about the true audience and how to get in front of them is paramount. Don’t make it complicated. But do test new tactics, measure and kill those items that don’t work. Rinse. Repeat.