How to stretch your small business marketing budget

Inflation, supply backlogs and worker shortages continue to impact our nation’s small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy. To save money, small businesses may be tempted to cut their marketing budgets. But that could be disastrous because marketing isn’t a line-item cost. It’s an investment.

Adapt to grow during inflation 

Before reducing your marketing budget, consider two strong reasons to keep or even grow it: 

  1. Your competition may be ready to jump on your absence. If they grab your current and prospective customers, it will be that much harder to recover once the marketing environment improves. 
  2. The strain on your cash flow may worsen. With a smaller market share, revenues will likely decrease. 

Strategic marketing can help you capture discretionary dollars 

Inflation and recession can both be characterized by downturns in consumer spending. A paper published in the “International Journal of Research and Marketing” found: “Companies with a strategic marketing program in place benefitted from proactive marketing during a recession.” 

Further, “Firms that have a proactive marketing response in a recession achieve superior business performance even during the recession.”

Being proactive and strategic means: 

  • Find ways to be more engaged with your market. 
  • Be more visible. Tell your story in as many places as possible. 
  • Focus on desire. Remind people why they should prefer to buy from you vs. your competitors.

If you’re unsure about what strategic marketing involves, you can learn the basics by reading about our six-step Strategically Aimed Marketing process, outlined in the award-winning, Amazon best-seller, “The CEO’s Guide to Marketing,” by Lonny Kocina.   

Now is not the time to disappear from buyers’ search results 

Retreating simply means you’ll be harder to find. You won’t be top of mind. Here are steps we recommend taking to make your small business marketing budget work even harder for you. 

  1. Get one or two earned media stories. These are your foundational marketing elements. Not only will earned media stories reach large numbers of people and give your product credibility, but they often direct people to your website for more information. 
  2. Squeeze more value out of each earned media story. Post a TV interview on your YouTube channel. Link to a media story in your blog. Brag about it on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. These actions do more than draw attention to your business and reinforce people’s positive opinion of you. They also increase your discoverability in Google searches. 
  3. Analyze your competitors’ websites. A competitive analysis of similar sites that are working well can reveal ways to dial up your leads. Media Relations Agency’s clients are often surprised to learn that much of what’s happening behind the scenes with websites is publicly available if you know how to get it and what to look for.
  4. Increase your social media and blogging frequency. Marketing platform Semrush reports that updated social media content can improve engagement, search rankings and traffic. Social media is also very effective at building relationships with buyers. 
  5. Create a brand persona. Understanding your market demographics will only get you so far. To capture buyers’ interest on an emotional level — when they are most likely to open their wallets —  many first need to feel a personal connection with you. Tell your story in a way that makes people feel heard and understood. Be consistent with your tone and style. 

Media Relations Agency has been helping small businesses market their products for 35 years. We can help you tell your story and get measurable results. Reach out to us at 952-697-5269 or use this form for a no-obligation consultation.

 

For more great marketing advice, check out The CEO’s Guide to Marketing!

Written by Robin Kocina

Robin Kocina is a proven marketing industry leader who has been instrumental in growing Media Relations Agency, a top performance-based PR agency, from its inception in 1987 to its current status as a successful integrated marketing agency with international clientele and multi-million dollar revenues. As President, Kocina now concentrates her efforts on the agency’s direction and fiscal growth, as well as new business development in the company’s Minnesota and Florida offices. Kocina’s financial acumen is evidenced by her recognition as a Top Women in Finance Circle of Excellence (Finance & Commerce, 2013) as well as Top Women in Finance (Finance & Commerce, 2010). A highly regarded community leader, Kocina believes strongly in sharing her marketing and leadership skills through community service. She served as chairman of the board for Depart Smart. She also serves on the Leadership Board for the National Federation of Independent Business, and actively involved with the Women’s Presidents Organization. She is a past board member and Chairman of the Board for WomenVenture. Robin is the recipient of numerous honors for her leadership and community involvement: Inductee into the Women Business Owners Hall of Fame (2018); Exceptional Businesswoman Award (2016); Volunteer of the Year (Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, 2010); 25 Women to Watch (Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, 2008); Upsize Lifeline Award (Upsize Magazine, 2008); Standing Ovation Award (Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine, 2006) and Luminary Award (National Association of Women Business Owners, Minnesota Chapter, 2005).

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