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Navigating the Marketing Maze: A Small Business Guide to Maximizing A Small Marketing Budget


March 19, 2024

Small business owners face marketing challenges with limited resources. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to play the game, and it starts with making the most of your budget. When you focus on knowing your numbers, strengths, and connecting with customers, you can make smarter decisions with your marketing dollars. Read on to discover practical ways to maximize your marketing impact on a budget.


First Rule of Marketing: Set a Clear Goal
Before investing in your marketing or setting a budget, first clarify your goals. Whether it's boosting website traffic, sales, or social media presence, know what you're aiming for and why. Too often small businesses invest in advertising or social media campaigns, without considering if these initiatives will create the results they want. For example, if your goal is to reach new customers, there’s an important difference between display ads and google search ads. When faced with limited resources, choose the option that best aligns with your top priority, and ensure everyone on your team understands the goal for cohesive strategy execution.


Marketing Your Uniqueness, Not Your Bank Account
There's a misconception that consumers only favor big flashy brands with big marketing budgets. But business is more like chess; strategy often trumps resources. Your small business has unique selling points that set you apart. Focus on what makes you unique. Maybe you’re family-owned, source your ingredients locally, or nationally-recognized for your customer service. Using specific language in your marketing that attracts your ideal audience is key. The more you understand your audience, the more capable you will be in creating marketing messages that resonate with new and existing customers.


Marketing Metrics Tell No Lies
Thanks to online tools, a small business can now accurately gauge the impact of its marketing efforts in real time.Think about it this way: you've put your precious coins into an ad campaign. If the click-through rate is low, adjust the ad. If a post is gaining traction, boost the ad and run it longer. According to research conducted by Hubspot, the most important metrics to follow on your website are your sales/conversion rates, your monthly visitors, click-through rates, search traffic, and bounce rates. You can access their full report here.

If you want to run your business rather than analyze data, consider hiring an agency to monitor the metrics for you. Their job is to help you earn a return on your marketing spend or ad investment. If you’re on the fence about outsourcing your marketing, remember you can track this spending too. Decide in advance what success looks like – is it more customers, more email sign-ups, more scheduled meetings? Having a clear notion of success will help you determine if your marketing results match your expectations.


Allocating Your Budget for Maximum Impact
Here's the key: Leveraging even modest resources effectively can yield significant returns. Forget one-size-fits-all marketing budgets; what you need is a strategy customized for your unique situation. For startups, dedicating 10-12% of your revenue to marketing is a smart move. More established businesses should focus on sustaining their market presence. On average, small business owners are advised to invest between 6.5 and 8.5% of their gross revenue into marketing efforts. Another approach is to follow your competition’s lead and match your spending to theirs. It's crucial to remember that judiciously spent funds can dramatically shift your business's trajectory.


The Takeaway: Learn and Adjust
At times, the wisest course of action is to pause, observe, and absorb lessons from your surroundings—be it your specific niche, other sectors, your analytics, or, most importantly, your customers. Adaptability and the ability to listen are crucial in both business and personal life. Leverage these insights to gain a marketing edge. Unlike their larger counterparts, small businesses possess a level of agility and flexibility that is often envied. Embrace these unique strengths to make your marketing budget work for you.

Our business owner roundtable focus for March is "MARKETING for Business Owners".



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