I was thrilled to recently speak on a webinar about how little you can spend on a campaign and still get results. As sales and marketing people, we are being tasked to do more with less. We must produce more leads, more conversions. The frustrating truth is they we aren’t given more money to do this. There are solutions to this dilemma, and you can listen to many of them on the hour-long webinar put on by My Lead Agency and Virtual Causeway.. During the discussion I shared some money-saving tips I’ve learned over the years. Here are some of them.
TIP #1: Don’t Rent Someone Else’s Audience
You may see an offer to jumpstart your content marketing by hitching up with a social media person or brand. Whether these offers call it ‘native advertising,’ co-marketing, earned media, an advertising buy, or social influencer marketing, they always come back to the huge audience they have. They claim that when their audience sees your content, they will visit your site and convert into leads that your sales team will value. I think there are some valuable offerings out there, but when anyone hears those claims, they should ask what it actually entails. How successful will you be at using this quick-hit to make their audience become part of your own audience? What percent of that audience will you ‘own’ once the circus leaves town? Would you rather have a small percentage of a big number? I hate to be a pessimist, but you will probably not get anywhere near the results you hope to.
The other option is to build the audience on your own. Yes, that’s a much slower route, but you will have that audience all to yourself. Though small at first, you could scale it up to eventually eclipse the audience you used paid media or earned media to reach. Also, the acquisition cost of an individual audience member will be more reasonable than taking a large media buy and dividing it by the number you convert into members of your own audience.
I encourage people to build an audience on their own. Even if you only start with a handful of subscribers, you are starting to climb your way up the curve. The people who found your message to be relevant and pro-actively opted in are going to be highly aligned with what you’re delivering. They recognized your subject matter expertise. The credibility you get from an opt-in gives you an edge when it comes time down the road to sell to them.
The bottom line: always try to build your audience organically. Building your own audience slowly and surely will one day put you ahead of where you would have been if you had rented someone else’s audience.
TIP #2: Invest in Quality Content
It takes budget to create good content, but once you do, that content will work continuously to bring in prospects. If you think about it from an SEO perspective, what you put on the web stays on the web. Content that’s highly-polished is going to work for you not only the day you post it, but also a month later, a quarter later and even a year later so that spending gets amortized over a very long period of time. An investment of several thousand dollars seems much smaller when you break its total cost across several quarters of years.
TIP #3: Make Selective use of Graphic Designers
Designers are pretty good at understanding how much time it takes to do a task (the seasoned ones can do this) so when you want them to do something, get them to break down the project into its individual pieces. When you review the tasks, you will probably notice that it doesn’t take a graphic designer to do all of them; there are some that you can do. Let’s say that you want a website with a lot of images. One of the tasks in putting the site together will be finding stock photos. If you offer to do the work of searching for stock photo images and handing them a ready-made list of images saved in the photo site’s lightbox, they don’t need to hunt around. They don’t need to get you to approve the images. This way, they can use their graphic design skills for the tasks where that skill is most needed. The designer can focus on manipulating and placing those images on the site. You’re only paying the designer for work that requires their expertise. The end product will be high quality, and you will have saved a lot of money. So don’t be afraid to examine what work they are really needed for. You are the client, remember that you can negotiate who does what.
TIP #4: Don’t Buy Too Much Marketing Technology
If you like impressing your peers at your local marketing meetup, saying ‘we just bought marketing automation package X’ will make you very popular. But vanity aside, your business objectives should be the driver for deciding the right amount of technology you need. Let’s examine marketing automation suites – currently many of these suites offer features such as:
- Sending Contextual Emails
- A/B Testing & Optimizing Landing Pages
- Scoring Identified Leads
- Tracking Website Visitors
Seen this way, it’s clear that there are point solutions out there that do each of these functions. Granted, separate software products won’t integrate as well as an all-in-one package.
Take Scoring Identified Leads and Tracking Website Visitors, for example. Marketing Automation suites blend these last two features nicely, attributing each of your leads to their source so you can evaluate your channels. But it’s possible to log your contact-form submissions in a spreadsheet and use your analytics tools to look this for free. Once you analyze the data, gain insights and apply changes to your site, you have done everything a marketing automation tool would do, without the high-cost. Admittedly, using point solutions is a duct tape and baler twine fix, but it works.
In my case, I would need to see data showing that for every dollar that I put into a software suite, I would get a dollar and change back from it. I would encourage you to ask yourself these questions before you try to persuade a financial decision maker to part with a large amount of budget. You will eventually reach a point as you grow, where it only makes sense to get premium technology that delivers high-end value; you’ll just get more productivity by doing your workflow inside a suite. But don’t cross that bridge until you come to it. Make sure you prove ROI before investing.
TIP #5: Look for Traction, then Double-Down
Endlessly tying to generate leads via all channels (SEO and PPC and Word of Mouth and LinkedIn and Twitter, etc) can be exhausting. If we’re honest with ourselves, we must admit that we can’t predict which one is going to work for us. If we’re smart in our digital marketing, we don’t have to master all these, we just have to gauge them all. We start off experimenting with them, watching key metrics, looking at our website stats. There is a learning curve involved to get most channels to positive ROI, but we aren’t waiting until we get ROI from each channel. We simply want to establish a cause-and-effect link – do our tweaks have any affect on the channel’s performance? If working on them doesn’t make the metrics improve, we need to put that channel on the back burner.
There will always be a new social network, a new channel, etc. Of course you should watch for new opportunities, but you should also stick with what works. Using our marketing agency as an example, when a new marketing channel launches, we put in a couple of hours over several weeks trying to see if we can make it work. We think of it as placing a little bet, but we are also placing expectations on that tactic. If we don’t see traction, we dial it down and go back to existing focus areas. At some point, you’ll have such good ROI that you’ll reinvest any resources you have into that strategy. Your ROI goes way up when you’re doubling down on the channels that work and withholding budget from the channels that produce less.
The bottom line: Do only what has proven to gain traction, then double down on it.
Hope you found these tips to be helpful. You can view the full webinar below, featuring my great discussion partners Darryl Praill and Cory Schnurr.