Marketing budgets are an investment in the growth of our businesses – or at least we hope so. But so often I hear tough stories of owners who have spent thousands of dollars on direct mail campaigns, online advertising, etc. that have not resulted in a single lead.

While I cannot guarantee that every marketing expense will be worthwhile, the following five tips will help increase the chances that your expenditures will be wise ones:

  1. Stick with the plan. Marketing budgets are often wasted by acting on lots of fragmented tactics rather than an overall campaign: a single ad in one publication, one month on social media, newsletters that only go out at holiday time. Decide up front on 3-5 marketing initiatives for the quarter complete with goals and target markets. And then stick with your plan.
  2. Don’t buy based on a sales pitch. The other big money waster is making impulsive decisions based on sales pitches. Especially during industry conference and networking events, it is tempting to engage a new marketing expert who can generate that cool mobile sales app, or light-up display, or social media contest. While you want to always be open to the new ideas and advice you get in these events, make a promise to yourself to NOT make a decision then. Take the card and decide how it may or may not fit in your plan.
  3. Share expenses with joint marketing campaigns. If you are looking to launch a big outreach or make a splash at an industry event, consider working with a partner company who wants to sell into the same audience. Partners can be other small businesses who can contribute time, money and creative inputs, or larger companies who can donate giveaway products or cash.
  4. Design projects to be attractive for marketing vendors. Consider organizing and batching your work into a larger RFP (request for proposal) with clear objectives and expectations stated up front. Vendors are then more interested in bidding on a longer term, larger projects; and you will get better, competitive bids in the process.
  5. Do targeted pilots first. Rather than jump into a large-scale national campaign, test the waters with a pilot. Do a small ad campaign, or direct mail push, etc. and track the results after three months. This can then tell you whether you should continue with a full-scale rollout or go another path.

How do you save money on your marketing budget? Share in the comments section below.

About the Author(s)

Jeanne Rossomme headshot

Jeanne uses her 20 years of marketing know-how to help small business owners reach their goals. Before becoming an entrepreneur, she held a variety of marketing positions with DuPont and General Electric. Jeanne regularly hosts online webinars and workshops in both English and Spanish.

President, RoadMap Marketing