While the Small Business Administration suggests companies spend 7% or 8% of their revenue on marketing and advertising, analysts conclude the real number is between 1% and 3%.
And while 8% may seem high, that 1% is too low.
As the SBA's Rieva Lesonsky points out in a blog post about marketing budgets, "Marketing isn't an expense—it's an investment, one that drives sales."
So in the current economic environment, business owners need to make smart choices about maximizing their advertising costs.
In the following post, we'll discuss five ways to keep advertising costs down while maximizing outreach.
1. DIY Your Advertising Costs
Many small businesses have no problem outsourcing graphic design and website administration. These business responsibilities are time-consuming for novices.
They also take a bit of artistic flair, and may not be your area of expertise. So if you have no advertising talent, you may still want to consider outsourcing this part of your business.
But if you're willing to invest the time, there are several ways to reduce costs using a do-it-yourself approach.
There are several online resources—from flyer ideas to marketing designs—that can help get businesses to save costs and produce quality products.
Some companies also offer low-cost logos, social media content, and graphic design elements to help with your in-house advertising.
2. Up Your Digital Presence
Maximizing your website presence through social media and SEO has excellent potential for cost savings.
In an article for Entrepreneur, expert Alex Sixt says starting a blog about related business topics and using it as an engine for your social media is invaluable.
Other tips include making sure your social media is on a dedicated schedule and that you pay attention to hashtags and what's trending.
By writing or posting about what people are searching for on social media, you can capture some of that traffic for yourself.
3. Networking for Dollars
One great way to keep advertising costs low is to use existing relationships to bring in revenue. You can create an email group of your current customers and use it to pitch a referral program.
Offer a discount or other incentive per referral and let the word of mouth and your existing network do some of your advertising and marketing for you.
4. No Time to Spare
With so many employees working from home, it's essential to make sure that you're getting the most for your companies' time.
A marketing or advertising project not on time is money wasted. Make sure you let your employees know this is a priority.
There are time-management applications, like Focus Booster, to help keep everyone on track. Shared schedules and deadlines will help employees understand your expectations.
You can be respectful of employees' homelife needs while maintaining a productive work environment, even if those interactions are online.
5. Keep Your Eye on the Ball
Whatever advertising and marketing cost-saving measures you implement, you need to make sure you're getting a return on your investment.
Make sure you are using web tracking applications like Google Analytics or Parse.ly.
These services can sometimes have a low-cost and are great ways to see if your online and social media marketing has its desired effect.
Use All Resources Available
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you went DYI or outsourced your marketing if your advertising costs don't equal a return on investment.
You'll need to decide if trying to do more in-house has the impact you for your business.
One thing is for sure: To save on advertising costs, you need to embrace all the resources available to you over the internet.
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